Monday, December 14, 2015

The Sixth Month

"...and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;for nothing will be impossible for God.”

These words are written about Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, in the story of the Annunciation. That's just a fancy word to mean "the announcement that Mary was going to give birth to the Savior of the World".  I like it.  

This part of the passage really jumped out at me when I heard it read aloud.  

I distinctly recall being in my sixth month.  It's some of the best part of pregnancy.  I was far enough along that I was done vomiting all day, and I had a little poof of belly.  I wasn't yet a planet with my own zip code, and I could still see my shoes from a standing position. I also had the benefit of being chock full of reproductive energy!  I was knocking out projects and getting things done.  I had a nest to feather, and it wasn't going to feather itself!  

So when I heard this passage, I was thinking of it in another context.  

I was thinking about the "sixth month" of life.  It is that time of life when you are most productive, and joyfully going about the business of making the world a better, more comfortable, more loving place.  It REALLY IS the good part!  

Elizabeth was thought to be barren.  Some friends and I hate that word.  It brings an image of the guy in rags dragging himself through the desert begging for water as the scorching sun bleaches the life out of everything. Below are some  definitions of "barren".        

  1. 1.  (Of a woman) unable to have children.  Synonyms:Infertile, sterile, childless.

  1. 2.  empty of meaning or value.  Synonyms:  pointless, worthless, profitless, valueless, unrewarding, purposeless, useless, aimless, hollow, etc....

It is crucial that we ALL agree that only the first definition applied to Elizabeth, and that one was only temporary. Only the first one is meant to describe a person.  

Sometimes, the second one has been used to describe me.  

I've been called each of these at one point or another, either with actual words, or by the actions of others.  I have been encouraged to feel useless and a waste of effort.  I have been defined by others as unnecessary, and not worth the flesh I was made of.  I have had someone tell me, "No court in the land would ever convict me of killing you, you are so ridiculous."  

I believed it.  I lived a very barren life inside myself for a very long time. I believed all the horrible lies I was told about myself, but not now. I am in the "sixth month" of my life.

I don't know when it happened exactly, that I started to see myself differently, but it was solidified when I was held in the arms of my Creator when my heart stopped.  There was nothing to get in the way of His Love.  No kids to take care of, no house to clean, no heart beat, no breathing.  

Just Me and LOVE.  

Perfect, eternal, beyond words and description.  I saw nothing, and experienced Pure Love.  God loves me like a newborn baby.  It's appropriate that He came to Earth that way.  He was Mary's perfect little boy.  Joseph would have looked at him with hopes and dreams and perfect Daddy love, even if this child wasn't the Savior of the World. It's how God sees us.  It's not that He doesn't know what mean things we are capable of, it's that He knows the Love we are capable of, and that we are made for.  

So here I am.  

The sickness and discomfort of my first trimester is done (I hope).  Now I'm on to being productive, helpful, fruitful.  With God's help, I will spread kindness and goodness that will last beyond my years.  I will give my strength and energy to share the love that God made me for.  

It will indeed be the sixth month for THIS woman who was once called all kinds of "barren". 

...For NOTHING will be impossible for God!       


Sunday, December 13, 2015

Do You Love Me Enough?

I was listening to NPR and this fella was telling the story of his sister being in hospice.  He told of how he sat in her room, holding his beloved sister's hand, telling her how much he loved her. As he proclaimed his love for his dying sister, she asked him, "Do you love me enough to trade places with me?"

That stopped me in my tracks and made the rest of the story a blur. He felt very awkward about his answer, so he made a joke about her having to be married to his wife, but what a truly deep question.

"Do you love me enough to trade places with me?"

I remember when my granddaughter Evelyn was born.  She had a difficult time breathing at first, and she required some special care.  Her father (my son, Jordan) is a professional tuba player.  His lung capacity is beyond that of normal humans, yet his baby girl struggled to fully inflate her lungs.  His desire to take her place was palpable.  It was also beautiful.  It's what real love looks like.

"Do you love me enough to trade places with me?"

I think of my own sweet kids, and the times when they had stitches or fevers, or the chicken pox.  I would have gladly taken on that discomfort to ease their pain. I think of poor Luke, when I was in labor all those times.  I'm sure he would have taken my pain, if it was in his power to do so. (Well, once, anyway.)    

At so many points in my life, without saying these exact words, I have had this conversation with Jesus.  

When the baby we created out of love died inside my body, the devastation was crushing my very soul. I may have asked him,"Do you love me enough to trade places with me?"

When I was lost in my brokenness, and couldn't find a friend.  When I couldn't feel loved enough and couldn't feel whole enough, I may have asked him, "Do you love me enough to trade places with me?"

Too stubborn to change, and insisting on doing things my way instead of his, I have broken his heart and his promises too many times to count. Yet, I STILL have the audacity to ask him, "Do you love me enough to trade places with me?"

Nearly 2,000 years ago, he knew me already.  (He's God.  He can do that.) He knew what I would ask, and he said, "Yes, Amy.  As a matter of fact, I do."  Then he took flesh and suffered loneliness and frustration and sadness.  He mourned and felt his soul crushing as his friends turned away and the ones he came to save rejected him.  He took to the cross and died, Because He loves me enough to trade places with me.

It could have ended there, but it didn't. Now, He asks the question.

"Do I love Him enough to trade places with him?"

Look to the manger and answer that one.

Look to the cross and answer it again.

Now look to the Resurrection.

"Do you love me enough to trade places with me?"

 He does.  He did.  He has.  He always will.