Crystal clear

We don't need to understand the why to trust the who.

A lead crystal vase graces the shelf of our old hutch. I hold it, feeling its familiar weightiness. My finger traces the fluted rim until it catches on a jagged point and I’m transported back to my childhood. I was very young, but the event is engraved as deeply in my memory as the design etched into this antique vessel.

I was in the living room dancing to music emanating from the black and white television. I swayed and swooped and swirled as gracefully (in my mind) as the figures on the screen. With a grand flourish I stretched out my arms and spun around. And disaster struck. I bumped into the two-tiered end table. The crystal vase toppled from the upper shelf, gouging the main part of the table and crashing to the linoleum floor. Surprisingly it didn’t shatter, but the damage was significant. The fancy edge of the vase was badly chipped and the end table was permanently scarred.

Straining to lift the heavy vase, I held it like a smoking gun in my hands when my mother appeared in the doorway. I braced myself. Ma ran a tight ship. We had rules. No carousing in the living room, for one.

She stood there staring at me in silence. Time stopped. At last she stepped toward me. Tears streamed down her face. I had never seen my mother cry. It was surreal. “I’m sorry, Ma,” I stammered.

She sighed. “It was a gift from Oma before we left for Canada,” she said slowly. She took the vase and gently replaced it, turned and left the room. We never spoke of it again. No punishment could have cut my heart the way that reaction did. I caused her tears.

The same kind of sadness tugs at me when I read the opening chapters of Genesis. First there’s the creation story – days of forming and filling. Magnificent flora and fauna adorned the land. The seas teemed with life. Sun, moon and stars embellished the sky. God himself declared it all “good,” and crowned it with humankind – made in his own image. He walked with them personally each day.

He already knew

But there were rules. One flagrant act of rebellion indelibly disfigured all that beauty, glory and joy. There was no soft landing.

My big question: Why? Not why did humans sin. I understand that part firsthand. But why – when God knew our nature before time began, knew what we were capable of and what we would do – why did he go ahead with creation in all its splendour and then bring us into the world?

Beyond that, he anticipated the cost of our redemption. We broke his heart. But he was willing to pay the price for us, pronouncing the protoevangelium (the first Gospel) right then and there. Unfathomable love!

So as we celebrate our Saviour’s birth and await his return, this truth emerges crystal clear – we don’t need to understand the why. We just have to trust the Who.

Let nothing you dismay!


  • Heidi VanderSlikke

    Heidi VanderSlikke lives on a farm in Mapleton Township with her husband Jack. They share their home with a gigantic Golden Retriever named Norton, who thinks he's a lap dog. Heidi and Jack have three happily married children and seven delightful grandkids.

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