“JUST Let Me Say”

To my beloved readers: If you think you’ve seen this before on another website, you probably have. It is no longer on that site because I felt it was more appropriate to the Weaned Child blog. Enjoy!

JUST.

We have such a complex relationship with that word, and our consideration and usage of this simple syllable have only become increasingly lazy over time. It springs up in every discussion of ours–sometimes to joyous effect, other times in bitter sorrow. Have we ever considered the myriad meanings of this word–the multiplicity of circumstances in which it has been used? I’ve never quite seen anyone try. I’ve read articles in which people ask after Kindly Mr. Just, but no one has ever offered any explanation. Worse, the word “just” isn’t always appropriate–particularly if you happen to be a poetic thinker. Here, then, are my feeble attempts to justify our word uses. When said phrasing cannot be excused, I simply offer my thoughts on what it all conveys and the ways in which my experiences fail to match it.

Just ten more minutes… it’s only five o’clock in the morning. [Snooze!] For one thing, your ten minutes will quickly deteriorate into twenty, thirty, forty, fifty… You’ll learn to count by tens all over again–and you’re a grown adult! For another, why press the snooze button when you can hear the birds chirping outside? When there are mountains in the distance? When you can smell the coffee that has begun automatically brewing? When morning, in all its beauty, has come encroaching upon your carefully-planned snooze routine? When morning fragrance and stillness and Psalm-like peace steal over you, at once calming your heart and invigorating you? When Psalm 118:22 leaps gracefully and joyfully into your mind and you find yourself saying, “This is the day that the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it”? When a journal is on your headboard, not three feet away? “Just ten more minutes” isn’t worth it in the light of all that beauty. Let the alarm do the sleeping by turning off the Snooze feature while you get up for the day.

Just an open window. How can you use the connotations of cleansing, rejuvenating morning air and then those of boredom and laziness in the same sentence? A window is not “just”. This is particularly true if you have gotten up to watch the sunrise. Braille readers don’t do that, you say? You see with your eyes; you can watch with your other senses. I said “watch”. Seeing will come in His time.

Just chimes, just a whispering breeze, just a lilac-scented candle. The chimes weave in and out of each other. Through them, you’ve learned the incredible beauty of high and low notes being hung simultaneously, singing together as they do. You read somewhere that those living in Jesus’ time found 218 things for which to thank God during the course of a single day. Why should it be any different today? Each time you hear those chimes, no matter where you happen to be, you thank the Lord for something: “Thank you for Your presence, Lord. Thank you for Your grace. Lord, thank you for this friend and that devotional and Your Word…” How can the chimes be “just’, “simply”, “only”, under those circumstances? As for the breeze, it carries the fragrance of dewy grass through your window–inexpressible! No simpler than the chimes, I suspect. And the candle? Light! Light of the world, light in our hearts, light not under a bushel. Again, simplicity succumbs to intricacy. And then there are the Northern Lights, which are my name for the chimes. Here we go again…

Just a pair of socks. But the socks have knitted tops, like the comfortable sweater your grandmother crocheted years ago. True, those socks are factory-made, but they do put you in mind of a more nostalgic time. And, if they were practical yet much-needed Christmas gifts, they were purchased and wrapped by loving hands. Loving hands, my precious reader, can never be dull. Never “just’/

Just a quick wash and then… But the quick shower is so reminiscent of something else. Once, the editor of a magazine produced by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association wrote of a woman who had recently become a Christian. As she was praying with one of the leaders, the rain that had been expected for some time began to fall. The rain may have been anticipated, but the woman’s reaction was not. “I’m clean! I’m clean!” And now a shower is cleanliness–’tis music and joy and hope. The hot water flows over your hands like peace, the colder drops touching your fingers with exuberant joy. Am I really comparing the washing of one’s face with majestic beauty? Well, we’re told to think on the things of the Lord at all times and to pray without ceasing–so, yes I am!

“It’s just breakfast.” Translation: I don’t know what you see in a cup of tea and a few slices of toast. Milk and honey in the tea. The sharp, clean sensation of peppermint tempered with the elegance of Earl Grey. As for the toast, it’s so reminiscent of that time in third-grade, that moment of studying fractions and having every slice of breakfast toast cut into sixths and fourths and thirds and halves. Not a “just” experience at all.

Just a hammer and a few nails, a carpentry project that needs doing. But the hammering reminds you of another Carpenter, long ago, and of sacrifice and solid foundations. It’s so beautiful that you must record it.

Just a roll of flatware at an old diner. But look! The paper around the roll has come loose and the thin edges of a napkin are peeking through. Their delicacy is like that of Bible pages. Oh, it’s beautiful– not merely a knife and fork!

Just some flags on a building, flapping in the breeze. Those flags sound like hands clapping. Clapping in worship–to the rhythm of “Almighty, Most Holy God”, to be exact.

“I just want what’s best for you.” Translation: You don’t necessarily know your own best interests. “Just” isn’t always usef for glory and magnificence, you know.

“I know you’re right–it’s just that…” Translation: You win, but let me have one last word.

I ask, “What just happened in that play? Why is everyone laughing?” Braille readers must, you know. Answer: “Oh, it’s just…” Translation: This bit of information is worth neither your time nor mine. You don’t need to know every detail in life. I protest this treatment!

Just some tomato sauce. The sauce belongs with noodles, which belong on a plate engraved with I Corinthians XIII, which belongs on an antique table, which has a tiny scratch in the shape of a heart. And the sauce itself! Slowly simmering all day long, bubbling in that pot on the stove, filled with garlic and zucchini, if any were available. Topped with sharp cheddar and olives and expectation. Pasta that’s served with bread that pillows your palate and twisted around comfortable forks–not actual silver, but common family forks that have so many stories to tell you couldn’t possibly write them all down. You focus instead on the spaghetti itself. It transforms a house into a home. Once, when you were in middle school, you came home to an aromatic crock pot. It had been a very difficult two years, and spaghetti hadn’t been seen on the table in a long time. You lifted the lid of the crock pot, held that tangy tomato /cinnamon/cayenne combination in your breath and heart for a long moment, and inexplicably found yourself in tears. And that was the beginning of restoration–of healing from God, whom you had not even thought to pray to during this whole time. But He answered–and He used something as unassuming as angelhair noodles.

“Let’s just keep it simple.” Unless your name is Heidi, let’s adorn everything with as much elaboration as we can possibly find. Let’s add garlic to that bread, add notes and highlighting to that Book, and add praise to our hearts. “Just… simple” means, “Let’s be lazy, for it won’t hurt us.” Neither will eating strawberry stems, but you don’t do that, do you?

Just a quick walk around the block. Not so! No matter how brief the sojourn into the outdoors, there’s always something to notice. Traffic is lighter and more leisurely in the evening. It’s slightly uphill one way, slightly downhill the other. There’s a breeze throughout the first leg of your trip, but a downright nip on your second. It’s a contented chill, though–the kind that makes you want to fling yourself down on the patch of grass to your left and just enjoy it for a few minutes. There’s a gentle, indefinable fragrance here, too–grilling and wood smoke and grass and flowers. Beauty! And there are the chimes on neighbors’ houses–more Northern Lights. Can I call this “just”?

Just a laptop. No, not even that, despite its propensity for statistics and such. The first laptop I ever received was a precious gift, bestowed upon me in order that I might better glorify God through writing and song. “I don’t eserve it,” my fourteen-year-old self protested, for I elt that it was far too great and elaborate a gift. But then came that beautiful question–“Will you use it to serve God? Then, yes, you need this.” Every laptop since has been almost a covenant in the Lord.

Just five more pages and just one last trailing sentence–then I’ll put the book away and go to bed. Technically, I could tear those pages out of my book and staple them together, in which case it would all just be one long, extensive page. And how am I to know what page I’m reading if I’m in the middle of an author-narrated audiobook? What I’m saying is that “just five more pages” is a polite colloquialism that has no basis in reality of any kind.

Just five minutes later… Translation: at two o’clock in the morning. “Just” means, “time is immaterial to me–be it three minutes, five, or ten.”

“I Just Want to Be Where You Are, dwelling daily in Your presence…” This is a worship song, and here the word “just” is beyond suitable–the only word that adequately expresses that ever-present need to serve the Lord. All I really do want is to be in His presence, surrounded by His glory. If I had nothing else for the rest of my life, I would be satisfied with this. “Just”: only, ever, and always.

“And all his words fell just like honey on the rock…” The person referred to here is a preacher who proclaims words of revival and salvation. The line was taken from Robin Mark’s timeless story-song, “Billy Spence”. “Just like”: exactly, identical, comparable. Revival, then, is sweet as honey and just as potent. It is promise and prayer, and “just like” is “just so”.

Just Like Jesus. If you’ve never read Max Lucado’s book with the same title, you’re missing out. There’s a chapter that mentions foot-washing, and it’s a desperate, unspeakable shame to have been without it for all of these years. “Just Like”–very, intensively, profoundly. Yes, this is what I want–to be so much like Him that all of my faults and sins fade in the light of His glory. “Just” and “just like”: righteous to the point of worship.

“Lord, we just come before Your throne, and we just thank You for who You are. We just ask that You would just bless Hannah in all she does and…” Often, I have encountered articles in which the question is asked–why? Why is there this propensity to use the word “just” when praying? I’m here to answer that query. On a subconscious level, it’s used to submit to God’s will and to acknowledge Him as powerful. “We just thank you”: that is to say, “we, as mere man, cannot possibly come before You with the reverence due Your name, but we are nevertheless thankful.” “We just ask that you would bless…” This is a proclamation that our tiny request pales in comparison to God’s great, awesome power–far more wondrous than we could ever, ever know. I realize that people–to include a few in various prayer meetings I’ve attended–wonder about that consistent use of the word “just”, but I believe it is fully valid.

Just a blanket. with roses on its velvety surface. I’ve read Job and Jeremiah and Ezekiel here, read and reread the Gospel of John and the book of I Corinthians, dreamed of glory and majesty, hoped for answers to prayer and received them when the time was right. How can this be “just”?

Just for You. I’m afraid I must forsake both intellectualism and dignity and salute the children’s author Mercer Mayer for his brilliant idea. In the book of the same title, the protagonist makes every effort to please his parents–with, let us admit it, inconsistent results. And yet, the pronouncement stands–“just for you I do this”, “just and only and especially for you I sew my heart firmly onto my sleeve, where it shall remain never again to be hidden”. And so, I publish this post–just for you, just to share a bit of joy, just, just, just…

Addendum: Title taken from “Just Let Me Say”, sung to radiant effect by Jennifer Anderson.

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