Saturday, December 24, 2011

Because of Jesus

Just days before Christmas, I finally pull out my little box of lights and string them across our bookshelf, twinkling stars against wood. It's Friday right before sunset, and I know if I don't bring them out now I might not bring them out at all.....

Christmas...My favorite time of the year.
More than any other time of year, during Christmas season you're allowed to be a child again. To enjoy and share the small things. People are sweeter and more thoughtful, more giving.

Most years, my family is nearly weary of December before it arrives. Months ahead of time I start reminding them it's almost time, almost time to pull out the music and the treasured story books and the lights, the wishes for snow and could they please let me drag into our tiny apartment a tree, even if all I find is a scrawny one?

But this year, when December comes, no Christmas music plays. No lights, no scrawny tree, no laughter in the pure happiness of the season. I notice the difference, but it's hard to get out of survival mode. Something inside me has shut off that little door that held within it that childish joy. Something deep down inside has resigned itself to just making it through this year, and maybe next year I'll have it together enough to invest in the season.

Survival mode continues into ten days before Christmas. Teddy and Susan come to visit from California for a few days. And we're happy and it's so good to have nearly everyone together under one roof, and we laugh and talk and breathe December air together, some with our hearts wide open. Others with certain little doors barred shut. And I realize that it's sometimes people that know us the least, that can sense changes in us the quickest when my brother-in-law verbalizes what no one else had... He states from the start of the week that there's something different about me since he saw us last, and he attempts to figure it out, him not afraid to speak his mind,  but me, I find other things to talk about. And so time flies and all too quickly they too have to fly, but his words, Sara you've changed...You've had to grow up too fast. All the responsibility is getting to you, they stay with me and when Susan calls a few days later and says Teddy's worried for me--she's worried for me, I'm ready to listen.  And what she says is not anything I didn't already know. They noticed the shift in me, slight as it may be...the lessening of the child in me. And she gives me some good advice on setting boundaries and delegating and not trying to carry the world on my shoulders. And she's right and I needed her words.
But that wasn't all. It was just the beginning. I hadn't fully listened to what Jesus had to say yet. To what the root of the problem was...

Yes I've grown up this year. Graduating from college last December and starting a new job and learning to make money stretch far and paying bills and making decisions for the family, yes it's responsibility, but it's real life and I know that's not the problem.
It's my brokenness.
--Or I should say, the problem is not accepting my brokenness.

It's the feeling of complete inadequacy in all those areas of responsibility and more that's been wearing me thin and bolting shut those doors. It's the belief that if I don't carry these burdens, no one will. It's the stressing over life's cares. It's the belief that my brokenness is what's making a mess of everything--This is what's ebbed away at the child-heart inside me, this year more than any other, leaving me raw and ready to close as many doors as possible, all hunkered down and thinking what next... 

....The Friday before Christmas I hang lights and notice that half of one set isn't working, and I'm frustrated, this too, broken? What in my life isn't broken, and these lights, they look pitiful! Our neighbors, their lights actually shine--these just feebly flicker...maybe, I should put them away before my family laughs at them... and as I stand weary, trying to decide what to do while my family sits around a laptop watching a video clip, mom notices and her eyes reflect the twinkling bulbs, happy, the others too, their faces brighten, and something in me shifts...splits... spills...
Seconds later my family says there's a video clip about a cracked pot, you should watch it, and I say no I need to do something else, but right then and there I remember hearing in the past the tale of this pot, and I know God is trying to speak to me. I try to ignore the pull, but He's too strong. I finally slide in next to my family as they're watching another little clip, and I ask if it's possible to watch the one about the little pot, and they get excited that I want to join, and we watch.
And we hardly breathe. This simple story, it speaks healing into each one of us so powerfully. Four brief minutes. But no eyes are dry. Each of us, we are all so moved. An ache so deep down is spoken to, and we each process in our own way...

The video clip, it's animated and cheesy and lame, and downright kinda silly. But it moves us just the same. That man, who so gently cared for those pots, he could have cast that one aside, that worthless piece of dust turned hard. But He didn't. Instead he day after day went up that steep hill, him bearing the weight, the burden. The pot, the cracked one? It was still worthless, broken, a burden, but as long as it leaked, it blessed--He blessed. It had no beauty of its own... those flowers, they couldn't thank the pot, the pot didn't do anything. It was that man. No one could thank anything or anyone but that man, who believed and rescued and treasured that worthless pot, and as I watched that man, I thought of Jesus, and isn't He beautiful? He loves us that much, enough to make use of us, even if we're broken, as long as we leak Him and Him only? And isn't the gospel powerful, that in using us, His name is glorified more than if He just set us on a shelf somewhere, us too broken for Him to use?

 ...I forget so quickly, my eyes blind to Him so easily...

So many people are cracked...aren't we all, in our own way, broken, and leaking, like that little pot?
But we aren't cast aside. We are faithfully held and carried and poured out, to bless others, but ultimately, to bless and bring glory to His name.
All He asks us it to trust His heart, even when we can't see what's just beyond the walls of that wooden cart, and not to attempt to lift and bear those heavy burdens that only He can carry.

And yes I feel silly, knowing I sound like a broken record, but I remember chapter 36 in the Desire of Ages, and after listening to it over and over for the past 3 weeks, how can I not praise His name " the assembly of all His people", and share what He has taught me, and continues to teach, even if it seems to be the same lesson, over and over, because maybe I'm not the only slow, slow learner, and maybe the lesson of embracing our brokenness is one we must relearn daily, maybe it's when we know we're broken, that we become as a little child, and willingly leak for Him?

This Christmas, it's my wish that in every crack, in every cut, in every break, we would allow His goodness to spill through us, one drop at a time. Isn't that what Jesus did, when He came and became small? From a King's Son to a mere speck of dust on a throne of hay, so inconsequential to everyone that not one house, not one family, found room to welcome Him? With every step of humiliation here on earth He stained the rocky path with His blood, His sweat, His tears, His living water, and left in His wake beauty untold...

Athough we may be rubbed raw this Christmas season, Jesus, the spotless Lamb of God, the Son of God, our sins, we hurt Him raw, so raw He cracked, and mercy spilled, for you, for me.

Merry Christmas.

Because of Jesus.


  1. Dear Sara,

    *whispered...I know how you feel. But I'm realizing that when we are broken and hurting, and we surrender before Him, that He takes the pieces and builds something beautiful. It takes time. And so much refinement. But in the end, I know it will be beautiful. Just like the video. So many tears...but perhaps they are watering a garden I cannot yet see...

    And I think, in one way or another, I can relate. Too often in the midst of difficult circumstances I try to do things in my own strength..I still pray and ask the Lord for help, but I want to be the answer to all the problems...I want to always do what's right...I, I, I.
    But in all reality, I can't do it. Only He can. Only when I run to Him on my knees do I find real strength to make it through each day.

    May I encourage you with Isaiah 43? I do not know if you have read it before/it has stood out to you, but I pray that it refreshes your soul this night. Though broken vessels before Him, He will take our lives and use them for His glory as we lay them down before Him. He is walking with us.

    With love from one broken, but treasured sister and daughter of the King of Kings to another...
    Merry Christmas,

  2. Melanie...
    Your words--how they've blessed... what a gift to me, this Christmas. Thank you.

    Your second paragraph? Where you mention the "I, I, I"...Yes, God is convicting me more and more on this, and it's humbling, seeing how deep the root of pride really goes, but hopefully, it's a good kind of humbling? The kind that, like you said, "builds something beautiful"? Even if it does take "so much refinement",so much time.

    And Isaiah 43-- it's a *much* beloved chapter...This morning as soon as I got off work I read it, and every verse refreshed--thank you, for bringing it to mind again.

    Those words, "He is walking with us"...He *is*, isn't He?- and I'm so glad Melanie, so glad...

    And here, this morning? I'm asking our kind Father to bless your spirit in equal measure as you have blessed mine...

  3. Ah, Sara girl, I wish I could be there and give you a hug… It’s painful, it’s unpleasant, it’s tiring… I can identify with that feeling of brokenness.
    When I was reading your post, this song came to my mind: And it made me think, about Jesus. His body, and His heart, His very life was broken for you and me as He carried/carries the burden of sin for us. He understands what you’re going through…
    Another thought struck me too… you see, Sara, it is when we’re hopeless, tired… broken, is when He is able to shine His character, His beauty through us, through those cracks.
    I am praying for you girl. Remember that He is the One who binds up the brokenhearted (Isa.61:1), and He is ever beside you to comfort and to heal.

  4. "His body, and His heart, His very life was broken for you and me as He carried/carries the burden of sin for us." How my eyes are opening to this truth, to the cost of sin. The cost...And not just anyone's sin. My sin. Our sin. It was us, it was me. I see Inga, I see like at no time previous, how my sins have/do hurt Him. And it's painful...

    But it's the kind of pain I've needed for a long time, this deepening of my understanding of the true price of choosing sin.

    And even now, as I type out words of thanks to you for sharing, I had to stop and read the story of the Brazen Serpent-- After reading your comment I felt impressed to read it, and I did(I read both Numb.21 and Patriarch & Prophets chpt.38), although I didn't understand why. But I do now... I've found a whole new layer to the lesson I thought Jesus was trying to teach me... A whole new beautiful layer to process and absorb...

    So truly,thank you Inga. There's so much more to say... but thank you for sharing His light through your own cracks, for unlocking so much beauty, through your words...
    For driving me to His Word.

    You too, dear friend...praying for you too. And that song, I'd never heard it before--how I love it already!

  5. I just read the Patriarch and Prophets ch 38 too. I am greatly blessed. So many lessons in it for me. Thanks for inspiring me to read it :)

  6. Sweet, sweet Sara, thank you for sharing your struggles. Just want you to know that I really, really needed to read this. Sometimes I wonder if Jesus can use us better when we are broken and leaking all over the place? :) Love ya girl

  7. Azure!
    So good to see that you're blogging again--your presence has been missed!

    I'm so glad this post somehow spoke to you... And yes, I think you're right, the broken places, leaking places, God seems to like those moments/places in our lives the best--and that's so hard for this brain to process, and maybe for yours too?...
    But just the same, God eventually get's through to us, doesn't He...

    Love you too! Please give my greetings to Dan and everyone--and especially to that dearest Little One!!:) I'm so excited for you!
    Just a few more weeks...:D