When I was in 9th grade I met a girl named Jenny in typing class. Drama ensued as it tends to do with high school girls, but during senior year God began to knit our hearts together in a way that would last for many years. Not long after we graduated high school Jenny began attending the little country church I went to called Auburn Christian Church. In my mind’s eye I can still see us on that second row every week.
I can see her hands lifted in worship to the One she discovered could be all she needed.
Jenny lives in Florida now but the same ties that God used to bind our hearts in 12th grade still exist. She will send me a link to a message she thinks I should hear with no explanation and none needed. If I text her out of nowhere and express my confused heart she will pray earnestly for me. Because we have prayed and persevered together though the ups and downs of friendship, adulthood, parenting, marriage and family issues it makes this morning all the better…
My friend has a brother with whom she tried to share the love of Christ for many, many years. He was a tough one; uninterested and angry. His wounds were deep. His coping mechanisms unhealthy and destructive.
But Jenny never gave up on her brother. She had been pointing to Jesus for years and he finally took an honest look. In a group thread this morning he wrote of the change Jesus brought to his life and of his gratitude to his sister for always being in his corner.
I had to let it sink in. All that time, all those years, they were just in the thick of it.
In the thick of grace.
Tangled together in the sticky and relentless pursuit of the Rescuer.
Her perseverance infused with His mercy.
Time is grace and forgiveness repeatedly clears redemption road in hopes it can one day be traveled together.
So we keep forgiving. Continue to let grace and mercy plow through the pain and difficulty of loving others and being loved ourselves.
Today I’m thinking how this is the essence of Christmas.
God becoming human is the most unsettling event of history. Humanity is abusive, hateful, manipulative, perverted, predatory, selfish, deceitful, and greedy.
Yet God came near. So near.
Baby Jesus sweetly wrapped in cloths lying in a manger. Bleeding Jesus wretchedly wrapped in cloths lying inside a tomb.
Jesus wading, quite intentionally, into the depths of my depravity in all its particular packaging to tell me He loves me. To tell me He can do for me what I can never do myself. To tell me that He wants to do it. Already did.
I can’t fix myself. I can’t really turn over a new leaf. I can’t try hard enough. Be good long enough. I can’t heal myself. I can’t let go of anger, selfishness, pride. I hurt other people. I can’t stop failing. Can’t face myself.
I crumble but I’m caught.
All my pieces held in the gentle hand of my Savior-King.
Jesus does not give up on us. He perseveres with us.
And He shows us how to do it with others so we can walk this rescue road together.