THE TAKE AWAY
TensionBy Kersley Fitzgerald
At midnight, on the edge between Thursday and Friday, our friend Michael died. His wife pounded on his chest and begged him not to leave. His two little daughters slept. His best friend stood over him, knowing the image of his childhood friend laying on the floor with a towel over his face would be etched in his memory forever.
On Friday afternoon, we drove into the mountains for a church retreat. We stayed in a beautiful log cabin, one room to a family with en-suite baths. We ate amazing food and hiked beautiful trails. The kids kayaked in the ponds and climbed the rock wall while the adults met for strategic planning and fellowship. We mourned Michael, prayed for his wife and daughters and parents, and went back outside for another hike or a visit to the hot springs.
Then we came home, signed up for meal trains, Facebook-shared GoFundMe accounts, and texted our support. The sun is shining gloriously. The robin hatchlings are starting to spread their wings. Kids are starting school. The funeral is next Saturday at 3 at the church where they were married.
Saturday is a fun run for families of children adopted from overseas. Louisiana is drowning. The American women swept the 100-hurdles. Haze fills the sky from the California fires. The black-eyed Susans are blooming, and everyone has runny noses and watering eyes. At least, we pretend our eyes water from the flowers.
The kitchen in the new office looks great with all the new cabinets. The microwaves are in the conference room because the outlets above the counters can't handle the load.
We are suspended in tension. The good and the tragic pull for our attention. Sometimes it feels like we're being stretched on a medieval rack, feeling our joints separate and come undone.
We're like cars stuck on the ice, rocking back and forth until we can find a dry patch. Or a stake too deep and too long in the ground, that must be pushed and pulled before it will release its hold. In the same way, God rocks us from joy to mourning, back and forth until we're free.
Anyone who has ever tried to break a wire hanger knows the drill. You bend it one way and then the other until the metal becomes brittle and it snaps. That's the risk with us, too — fatigue is the technical term and it works as well for people.
We crack into smaller pieces, compartmentalizing the good and bad. The smaller pieces make us hard, increasingly resistant to the stress. But it's the borders of those pieces that threaten the most damage. The more borders, the more easily a crack can grow, until we're nothing but pieces. God's plan for us is greater and far more difficult. To stand whole in that tension between good and bad. To let the shocks of this life impact and travel through us without destroying us.
For metal to become stronger, it must be annealed — heated so the crystalline structure can reform, essentially melting the microscopic cracks and making the metal whole. And that is us, too. God anneals us with His love and grace and reassurance so that we don't become brittle, even as moments of peace and hardship pull from opposite directions.
And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1b-2Jesus endured the cross because of joy — He lived in torment and hope at the same time — and that same strength offers to create and perfect our own faith. Because of that, I will see Michael's best friend Friday night. Saturday morning, I'll compete in the run. Sunday, I'll see Michael's family. Sunday afternoon, I'll sit in the sun, read a book, and pray for Louisiana and California. I'll feel for the push and pull of life and turn to God to heal the tiny cracks in my heart. I'll fix my eyes on Jesus and anticipate the joy that's coming.
Image Credit: josealbafotos; untitled; Creative Commons
Tags: Biblical-Truth | Christian-Life | Hardships | Jesus-Christ | Personal-Life
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