Messy

I somehow managed to catch it.  I hadn’t been one of the multitudes who kept vigil on Animal Adventure Park’s pregnant giraffe, April, since the YouTube feed was set up in February.  She wasn’t really on my radar at all, honestly.  I’m prone to binge watching a show on Netflix like any good American, but watching a pregnant giraffe walk around her pen in a New York zoo for weeks on end isn’t going to make my “must see” list.

But, staying in bed past the alarm on a lazier than usual Saturday morning, I grabbed my phone and tuned in just in time.  I watched mesmerized with about 1.2 million of my closest strangers as April did what seemed wildly impossible…birthing a  5′ 9″, 130 baby.  I held my breath and was completely captivated by the whole experience.

April wasn’t what fascinated me, although BIG PROPS to Mama Giraffe. Ouch.

It was the calf.  I kept wondering what that calf was thinking?  How uncomfortable is this for him?  Does he feel as stuck as he looks?  Is he liking being licked on at this point? Is he aware he’s being pooped on right now?  What was it like to fall that far onto the ground and then have all manner of after-birth splash down on his head?  “‘Welcome to life,’ baby animal!  Try not to drown before you even get started.”

I’ve found myself thinking a lot about that calf today, Easter Sunday.  Today has been a day of celebrating, not a birth (that’s Christmas), but a rebirth. Jesus died and rose again and because of that sacrifice and miracle, we are reborn.  We’re reborn once and for all into God’s family, but also over and over again in a million little ways.

Rebirth, like birth, can be very messy business.  The rebirth of Jesus required a trial, a devastating beating, ridicule and rejection, and a ghastly crucifixion.  Out of His pain, our hope was reborn.

Jesus had choices, I guess.  The Son of God could have called down angels…could have wiped out His enemies…could have run away.  But that’s not Who He is. He chose the cross, even after a night spent pleading with His Father for another way…any other way.  He chose forgiveness and mercy, even while hanging from nails.

We have choices, too.  The rebirth Jesus calls us to can be messy.

We can get stuck, unable to figure out the next right thing to do. Sometimes we get pooped on by other people’s opinions and plans.  Sometimes the fall is way further down than we realized it would be and we wonder if our soul has suffered a concussion. And just when we think we’re good to go, the not-so-pleasant-but-necessary side effects of rebirth come falling down on us and we wonder if we’ll drown.

But then, just like April started a loving clean-up effort for her baby boy, our Father does the same for us.  He cleans us up, understands that we’re a little dazed and probably have a headache, and encourages us to stand up.  Just like April provides shelter and nourishment for her calf, we are able to stand in the shelter of God’s strength and steadfastness, knowing that He’ll give us what we need this day.

The alternative to rebirth?  I think it’s death.  It’s staying in the womb of “what if” and “if only.”  It’s nice and warm in there, but you’ll outgrow it.  The womb is familiar, while the outside world is a little on the scary side.  But, we’re not meant to stay where the safety lies.  We’re meant for the rebirth.  We’re meant for the messy.

In the Middle

Today is the Saturday after Good Friday and the day before Easter.  It’s a kind of “not yet” place on the Christian calendar.  We don’t commemorate the death of Jesus today and we don’t celebrate His rising either.  Today is the “in-between” day.

I feel like my life is a little like that these days…like I’m somewhere in between the death and the rising.  I’m not who I used to be, but I’m not who I’m meant to be either. Seems I’m ever searching for the right thing to do and the correct path to take.  It’s as if I’ve walked into a spider’s web of doubt and uncertainty.  No matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to pick all of it off.  For all of my frantic activity, I don’t seem to be going anywhere.

I know that I belong to Him.  There’s truly no doubt on that topic. I know that I am securely held in His love and grace.  And yet, I have this heavy sense that I’m not really living…that I haven’t really, whole-heartedly risen to the calling He has on my life.

That calling is the same one each of us has as Christians:  the call to live as a new creation…to put off the old and put on the new.  I have a hard time with that part.  I wish I didn’t.  I know people who seem to fully embrace all that salvation in Jesus offers.  They live unencumbered by their pasts and see a future full of promise.  They don’t seem to doubt that when Jesus says, “Come to me,” He’s talking to them.

I think the key in being set free lies in where my mind resides.

What am I thinking about?  What am I believing about myself and about Jesus?  The Bible teaches us in Philippians 4 to think about things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy.  Pretty sure I don’t spend enough time in those categories.  Thinking that if I did, the web would dissolve somehow or at least be less sticky.

Maybe that’s what I’ll write about on this blog.  Maybe in writing about life and the many shades of God’s mercy and grace I experience, I’ll begin to unweave the spider web that holds me captive from time to time.  Jesus never has struck me as someone who applauds captivity.  After all, the one He sets free is free indeed (John 8:36).