Two Tubs and a Boy’s Testimony
I know they’re just things. But my heart cries anyway, that Thursday evening, as eyes take in the sodden, moldy mess in the tub of Christmas books and decorations. So many years of books. Most of them given by my mother. A sweet note and date penned in her precious script adorn each inside cover. Christmas pictures given by sisters who seek the smile of the youngest sister – the one who loves all things Christmas. Memories of love and giving and a heart smiling.
And I cling to these memories. People die – families unravel like quilts – wounds fester and words sting. But in that tub the memories sang clear and sweet that it was good.
And God. He’s let me cling to those memories when it hurt. When I cried myself to sleep and told Him I didn’t want to be an adult. That I wanted family and a mom and a dad and big holiday gatherings. And I wanted to be ten and cocooned in the big, crazy mess of my family. He let me cling, all the while gently prying fingers off the things I held so dear. More dear, more close than I held Him. And He is bringing sweet restoration. It’s halting. Imperfect. Bittersweet. And sometimes the restoration hurts. But He’s bringing it. And I know now that first He had to take me to that hard place. The one where it was just Him. Where I would cling to Him.
So I look in the tub of things destroyed. And it hurts. But I smile bittersweet at the tangible reminder that the things that matter are locked up, stored in my heart.
And that Saturday, I’m opening another tub, a smile playing on my lips. For that day brought forth a life. A small 6 pound, 11 ounce bundle with a head full of dark hair. Mom always said that my youngest brother and his beloved would have a little girl with dark hair. And they did – and she is precious. And I carefully take little socks and booties and dresses and sleepers out of tubs and wash them. Inhaling the sweet scent of baby that still seems to cling to the folds of fabric. My heart swells as I remember outfits my mom had bought for my oldest – and that would clothe this newest grandchild. Joy spread through veins as I imagine my sister in law unpacking the tub of washed, sweet smelling pink, pink, pink. And there are so many memories as these clothes have traveled through my girls and another sweet niece. Memories that they wore – that we wear too.
We sit by the Christmas tree as we do our devotions. My eyes blurring sometimes as I recall another favorite book or decoration that is gone. But mostly my heart is full. Because God brought new life; He always brings new life. I sit surrounded by my own littles – who will wear the memories of their growing up years. And how I want them to be good ones!
We are talking about the hard things. About Jesus being the only way. How we reject that. And how we don’t want to talk about our sin, own it – and we water down His sacrifice when we do that. Without Jesus. Well, without Jesus, we face eternity separated from God. There’s no watering it down, and it can be a hard truth. And the world rejects it. But there it is, written plainly in His words to us. Without the bridge of Jesus, our sin separates us from God.
The boy, the one who will be eight soon, sits curled in a chair and wipes his face with his blanket as his eyes spill over with fresh tears. I ask him soft why he’s crying.
“That’s the worst thing, Mom,” he whispers, grief in his voice, “to be separated from God.”
And my heart constricts with both pain and joy. Those who say you can’t feel more than one emotion at a time have never been a mom. Fresh understanding washes over me as I see this from my boy’s view. He gets it. He gets the sacrifice. And He gets the reason. He understands what Jesus did for us and why. And I feel joy for this. But I feel pain because it hurts. That realization that we pinned Him up there on the cross with our sin. And the realization that we so narrowly escaped living eternity without Him. All but for His grace.
And I smile and hug him tight. We pray together, our tears mingled. And I feel joy because He is storing up in me treasure. Treasure that will last.
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21