Saturday, January 3, 2009

Crossword puzzles

I am a bit of a crossword puzzle fanatic. Okay, I am a certified crossword puzzle fanatic. I am not very good at them, but I enjoy them all the same. I do crosswords alone, I have to do one in order to fall asleep at night, I have gotten angry with family members who have carelessly spilled breakfast food on the newspaper crossword, and I need crossword puzzles to survive some social situations such as long meetings. I don’t lie to my family about puzzles and I don’t secretly spend our family’s life savings on them but I guess I am pretty close to needing a 12 step program like puzzler’s anonymous.

Hello, my name is Kim and I am a ten letter word for one who is obsessively devoted to puzzles.

I am not entirely sure why I enjoy puzzles the way I do. I know I have a thing for words but I suspect that I spend too much of my day using words to tie things up in confusing knots. By the end of the day my brain wants something that can be solved by words to help me accept the confusion my life and sin causes.

Sometimes I get stuck with a puzzle I hand it over to my husband to finish. He always finishes it because he knows, and has instant recall, of every word know to man. This skill is rather amazing and just a little bit unsettling. I was not a crossword puzzle fan when I married him, but somehow I must have known this characteristic would come in handy some day. I feel a bit sorry for him, though. It is no fun to share a crossword with me because of two reasons: I always do them in pen and I always make mistakes. They are a mess when I finally get them finished.

One of my favorite Martin Luther quotes is as follows:

Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong (sin boldly), but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death and the world.

I was drawn to this quote as a young person, even though I did not understand it. It became a little clearer to me when I first started teaching and first started making mistakes that affected people other than me. I came face to face with the cruel hard reality that regardless of how hard I had worked in school over the previous four years, I still did not know everything and my students were suffering because of it. They needed me to sin boldly and then ask and receive forgiveness. I couldn’t help those children who were struggling with learning math or reading, or help those children who were struggling with learning how to treat each other unless I acted boldly. Every situation needs a leader. It is better if the leader is being led by God. No leader, even one led by God, will be able to escape sin and mistakes. The only recourse is to sin boldly and live in mercy and grace.

What a strange way of living! To sin boldly means you dive in to your life with the confidence of three truths: I am a child of God, I am going to mess up my life and the lives around me, and I am forgiven. This is strange to us because we want what we cannot have; we want to create our own perfect heaven. We think we can plan and execute a life that is perfect. Think of the time we waste doing God’s job! We can’t make a perfect world but we can’t sit back and be afraid of doing nothing, either. We must sin boldly and then accept forgiveness, mercy and grace. It is the only way to live in God’s world, as God’s child.

So, I will try to live my life in pen and sin boldly.

But there is more; I would never finish a puzzle if I didn’t work from the mindset that I make mistakes. I have tried finishing puzzles I have found on airplanes. I never finish them because I wrongly assume that the answers already inserted by the passenger before me are correct. I can’t finish a puzzle unless I assume all the answers could be wrong. I have to assume the possibility that every word I put in is a possible mistake, until the whole puzzle is done. I can’t hold on to my mistakes and hope things work out in the end. I have to be willing to admit I was wrong and try a different word. But, this makes for a messy puzzle.

If I am going to sin boldly and live in mercy I better ask God to help me repent. I also need to learn to turn to my crossword puzzle dictionary more often. God gives me all the answers in His Holy Word.

But in keeping with this promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless, and at peace with him. Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation. 2 Peter 3: 13-15a

No comments: