It’s been a hot minute since I posted. Life sort of kept us hopping. We have had more than 5,000 aftershocks since our November 30th Earthquake. It really shook up our world. So much has come from it. Most of all, I think people have realized they truly control little of their lives. You think you are in charge, making decisions, managing your life and your family, and a 7.2 shaker comes along and you realize you are but a spec on this earth. And control? Ha-Ha. You control very little of it.
One great thing about Alzheimer’s is that they recall very little of their current lives. So an earthquake really doesn’t shake them up too much. We saw Mom in her assisted living home last week and she was a transformed woman. She jumped up, recognizing me, and just hugged and hugged. She laughed. She was smiling. She looked so good. And I realized that I truly was not the best thing for her. She really does better apart from me. And I think now, she can enjoy the life she has left, with her buddies in her home, and with spaced-out family visits. This week a stylist is coming in and doing everyone’s hair! How fun is that? And she loves the attention. Even though her home sustained a little damage in the quake, it never interrupted her life. She lives in the moment, literally. But what a lesson that is for all of us. Live right now.
And all the anxiety we have about things, truly is leeching the life out of us. It is making us shells in the moments of life, if we are continually worrying or anxious about all the “what-ifs” in this world. And I realized something profound: I honestly trust God. Wow. Not me. Not the situation I live in. I am at peace because I truly, truly trust Him. He loves me. He cares for me. Just me. He died on that cross, just for me. And we multiply that in the billions. But even though the numbers make me feel small, like a spec, God is that awesome in that He knows each one of us, by name: (Isaiah 43: 1-5)
But now, this is what the Lord says—
he who created you, Jacob,
he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I give Egypt for your ransom,
Cush and Seba in your stead.
Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
and because I love you,
I will give people in exchange for you,
nations in exchange for your life.
Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
I will bring your children from the east
and gather you from the west.
And I can assure you, I felt this today. I have been worrying about bills and medical expenses, and Christmas and my kids and grandkids, husband’s happiness, friends who are suffering…you name it. Pile it on. I actually felt shorter, from the burden of my own anxiety. And man oh man, have I been storming the gates of heaven with prayers. And today, as I mulled things over in the light of day, pouring myself a cup of coffee and indulging in some incredible raspberry swirl bread, I stopped in my tracks as I realized God covered all of it. All of it. There are details I need to work out, but He hears me. He listens to me. And I am fearful on my own – not allowing Him to share my yolk.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28)
His yoke is easy and his burden is light. Wow. And some days, I truly am weary. Some days I just breathe and feel accomplished. But that is on me. That is my doing to me. Not the Lord. Because He promises us all, that He will give us rest. What do you think He means by “rest”? I somehow do not think it is a nap. Or a long, solid night of sleep. I don’t think it is magically wiggling His nose like Samantha on Bewitched, and everything is fixed. No; He expects us to manage what we have. But the rest is in the yoke. Because when we allow ourselves to rest in Him, His promises, and our faith in the message of Christ’s work in us, we obtain rest – an easing of our burdens. As I walked out of the kitchen in my snowflake and candy cane Christmas leggings (what an image, huh?? And they are winter leggings…so warm and cozy in our 10-degree, snowy weather) I felt taller. My back was not as bent. Because I realized, “God’s got this!” Mark Hart the Bible Geek loves to quote that and I forget to use it daily as my mantra. God truly does have this – all of it. From the shaking earth, to the white out on the highways, to the bills we need to pay, to the recipe we are struggling with for our Christmas expectations and dinner, to even the laundry. The Lord oversees our lives and will interject His Holiness and Peace, when we invite Him to “take the wheel.”
I added candy canes to our tree this year, instead of tinsel or garland or bows. Why? Well, they were so cheap ($2 for 2 boxes of 20 each) and so I got 4 boxes. Too many? That is up for debate in the family; but I like them. But why candy canes? They symbolize so much in our faith. The theories abound but I like: the white is symbolic of the purity of Christ and His love for us; the red symbolizes the blood He willingly shed for us; the shape is the letter “J” for Jesus, but it is also the shape of the Shepherd’s Crook (and He is our Shepherd); and the peppermint flavor recalls the Spices brought to the Christ Child by the Wise Men. The shape is significant because the Shepherd’s Crook was shaped that way for two things – to literally grab the sheep and guide it to food and water, and secondly to grab the sheep and yank them away from danger. Our Lord certainly does all of that and more for us. And so this year, I wanted to share that with my kids and grandkids. We are also going to crush them and use them to decorate some Christmas cookies, and I am planning to do it symbolically with the grandkids, so they can see where Jesus is in our Christmas celebration.
Winter is here. Christmas is almost here. The earth is still rumbling and letting us know we are but sojourners on its surface. Things are changing in my little world. We are attending Church with our kids this weekend. Last weekend when we did that, we had a 4.5 aftershock right as the procession started. We realized we were in the perfect spot if it was a catastrophe – the House of God. I am learning to be aware of His presence and seeking Him in prayer more often. And I am trusting, even in the little things. I am finding rest.