Notes from Jan

Called to Cushion

June 12, 2020

The story’s old, yet eerily new.   Jeremiah was a prophet from 626 BC to 587 BC, not a job folks stood in line, hoping to land.  God called prophets to be Truth-Tellers, which meant saying things folks didn’t want to hear, then or now.

Jeremiah’s old and faithful, but with  more enemies than friends. One day some  Truth-Haters tattled to the king,”The prophet’s a traitor. He’s undermining morale.”(Jeremiah 38:7) So, the weak leader abdicated his responsibility and handed over the prophet. They nabbed Jeremiah and lowered him by ropes into a cistern to die.  Fear and hate prefer to dominate.

While Jeremiah sank slowly into the well’s muck,   Ebed-Melech, an Ethiopian and an important palace official,  spoke truth to the king, “These men have done an EVIL thing!”  So, the king relented,”Haul him up.” But before Ebed -Melech hauled, he headed to the basement of the palace and gathered old clothes and rags.  Then he went to the cistern and lowered a basket of kindness, soft clothes to  “cushion the armpits”  of an old weeping prophet, before they roped and hauled him up.(v.11-13)

The world’s a hard place.

We need more Cushions of Grace.

There’s another story  in the New Testament.    Mark recounts one very full day.  Finally,  Jesus  and the disciples get into a boat to cross to the other side. When a storm comes up, the terrified disciples find, “Jesus is sleeping at the back of the boat with  his head on a cushion.”(Mark 4:38)

Over the years I heard many sermons about the fierce storm, the fearful disciples, while Jesus slept soundly  until awakened by shouts of, “Don’t you care we’re going to drown?” Jesus cared then and now. But until today, after reading a piece on Jesus by Frederich Buechner in Peculiar Treasures, I never considered the “cushion.”

Buechner takes the reader through one exhausting day of following Jesus.  Then  adds, “…but for some reason its the moment in the boat that says most. The way he lay down, bone tired, and fell asleep.”  Then it turned personal when Buechner left me wondering. Would I have thought to be ” the one to raise that head a little from the hard deck and slip a pillow under it”?

The world’s a hard place.

Much harder for some than others as the pandemic and protests remind us.

I’m still wondering.

Would I have been,  and can I be a Cushion of Grace?


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  • Reply Sue Andringa June 12, 2020 at 10:21 pm

    You would be, no doubt … love, Sue 🙂

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 13, 2020 at 10:55 am

      We who have received God’s Grace know how it feels, behaves in the hardest of times. You, dear Sue, are extending that during your tough time. Nothing but good comes from being a Cushion of Grace for someone.

  • Reply Gail MacDonald June 13, 2020 at 7:33 am

    Yes, indeed you would be, Janny! I love those three words and will treasure them in my heart today and in the days to come as a reminder I have the joy of being this for someone each day. Thank you!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 13, 2020 at 11:02 am

      Very dear Gail,
      You’ve been a Cushion of Grace to so many, including me over our decades of friendship. As I write I’m listening to your Forever Friends CD. Grace often speaks to me through music. Fernando is singing, Pass Me Not O Gentle Savior. Thank you, Cushion.

  • Reply dale June 13, 2020 at 8:13 am

    Thanks Jan. We have to remember prophets of God are called by Him and not anointed by us to promote our views.

    Love to my birthday partner.


    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 13, 2020 at 11:13 am

      Yes, so true. But….Thankfully, God , His prophets and I agree on some issues like: justice, treatment of the poor, the stranger, prisoners, orphans and WIDOWS. Never wanted to make the cut in that category but grateful for friends like you and Marty who God’s tapped to be Cushions of Grace for this old widow woman. And I am proud to share a birthday with you, brother Dale. God showed his sense of humor on June 2 , 1940, sending me first, then you a few years later. As for turning 80, “so far, so good.”

  • Reply Peggy Clarke June 13, 2020 at 11:57 am

    Thank you, Jan, for this thoughtful piece. Oh that I may be a “Cushion of Grace” for those in my sphere, and beyond!

  • Reply Jan Carlberg June 13, 2020 at 12:53 pm

    Your prayer matches God’s heart for you, dear Peggy. So you will have many opportunities to do as your heart desires.

  • Reply Linda Campbell June 18, 2020 at 12:31 am

    Hi- I am a newcomer to your circle and I am so blessed by your writing and the thought full comments sent in. It’s so good to be drawn into conversation that challenges and points to justice, mercy, and walking humbly with our God. Thank you.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 19, 2020 at 10:44 am

      Welcome, Linda. Thank you for reading and responding. These are vital times for us to listen and learn. Often God nudges through discomfort at what is both out there and especially what’s within us. The command is easy to memorize,
      Love God and love your neighbor as you love yourself.” It’s the doing that’s hard. Lord, have mercy!

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