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Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Sharks, jellyfish, and a baby in a manger





So, I think I'm getting a little insight into why the nativity/baby thing I talked about in my last blog weighs heavily upon me.

It happened this morning as I was thinking of all the things I needed to do today: a deadline to meet, cards to write out, issues that need to be dealt with, etc, etc, etc.

It was one of those, Lord, if you don't give me the strength, ain't none of this gonna to happen today moments.

And that's when the angels sang and the clouds departed and I got a glimpse into this struggle I've been having. The truth is...

I don't need a baby to get me through every day.

I need a strong man who's in control of everything.

Don't get me wrong, babies are fine. For a while. But I don't know anyone who wants their baby to stay a baby. They are needy and helpless and in spite of their being adorable beyond words, they just can't do much for themselves. Much less help you out!

And Lord knows I've needed a lot of help this year!

And this leads me to the main point of this blog...one that it has taken me a lifetime to embrace...


Weakness is a blessing.

For all my life I've felt like I had to be in control. I recognize that we have a strong family gene for this, but a lot of it was my attempt to keep order and sanity in my life. I figured who, but me, knew best what I needed? Who, but me, was with me always? Who, but me, wouldn't let me down?

So I spent 59 years holding tightly onto the reins of my life...steering like a madwoman...trying to keep from going over the edge. Did it work? Sometimes.

But it was exhausting and scary. Picture those Facebook posts of people careening down a mountain in Switzerland on a flimsy piece of plastic and you get my gist.

It was only this year that I pitched the sled, walked away from the mountain, and let go.

I just couldn't hold on any longer and I knew if I didn't that eventually I would crash.

Looking at it now, I see God's fingerprints all over that time. But He was too much the gentleman to peel my white-knuckled fingers off sides of the sled. For 59 years, He let me ride the ride until I was ready to get off.

When I was young, I was forced to take swimming lessons. In the ocean. In the Connecticut ocean where you can't see what you're swimming with. It was in no way whatsoever like the Florida ocean.

All the while I knew...because I had seen them coming up to the surface...that there were jellyfish and Sand sharks in there.

But if I wanted to pass the swimming test...per my parent's instructions...I was going to have to  jump off that raft and do my best to get safely to shore.

Yes I would be fearful.

Yes I would struggle.

But if I didn't jump, I would fail.

Can you see where this is going? Unfortunately, what I took away from this was that it was up to me to get to shore safely.

I carried this lesson subconsciously for all of my life. And I thought I did a pretty good job of it. Until this year. When the death of my mother, depression, illness, and other burdens weighed heavily upon me and suddenly the struggle to get up and go on was just more than I could muster.

I don't know how it works...how He comes alongside and picking us up, carries us forward, through the pain that threatens to destroy us.

Maybe we're too weak to hold on to ourselves any longer.

So we let go and let God...

Be our Strength and Shield, Our Defender and the Lifter of Our Heads, Our Rock and Fortress.

A God in whom we can trust.

All I know is that HE DOES...without judgment...without condemnation.

He Comes to be with us. Amen and Amen.

And now it's the end of a very difficult year. And Advent is here. And the Baby is everywhere.

As for me, I am so infinitely thankful that He came. And that He didn't stay a baby, but grew up and became my Savior.

Fall on your knees! We are weak but He is strong! Hope and Life have come, not just for the big times of crisis in our lives...

But Immanuel everyday...with us through whatever we're going through...providing for us whatever we need:

Strength to be kind when I want to lash out...

Grace to do what is right...sometimes moment by moment...when it just seems too hard...

Perseverance to keep on keeping on when it is required and people are counting on me...

Openness to be honest in my weakness so that others too, like me, can find their strength in Him.

I don't know where you are in this season of your life. But God does!

My prayer is that we won't relegate the Hope that has come to us to just a season...a time of year.

But that this Hope will be the guiding force for all we do...for all we say...for all we are. Everyday.

For that is where others will find Jesus.

Not in a manger.

But in us.

Shine on, dear ones!