Written for my friend Mary Elizabeth
by Patricia Spreng – December, 2014
Usually, she’d go once a year to see the cradle. And every now and then she’d go for the cross. Of course she believed. But that was church.
For quite a long time she’d found herself tripped up by the kind of life hurdles that hurt badly. The ones that leave you behind, break your dreams and mock you for ever having had them in the first place. But she was a fighter, always had been. Each time she’d get back up either by sheer stubbornness (which she had) or maybe because she believed.
Anyway, in the thick of it, she began to feel something pulling at her but couldn’t quite put a name to it. And, oddly, a new thought kept coming to mind…
Human hands had made the cradle
and human hands had made the cross.
One work was loving and the other wasn’t.
Each prepared to embrace the King differently.
In all those yearly sermons about God-sized holes, the part about asking Jesus into your heart never made any sense to her at all. Her holes were wounds that didn’t look anything like God. Besides, the heart is an organ and Jesus was too big for hers anyway.
Wrestling with it all, she went for a long walk to clear her head. She couldn’t believe how strongly the frustrations welled up inside her. She hated ‘not getting it’
and they spilled over, loudly. How long must a woman cry? She wondered for 10 sad and lonely miles on that dark December morning.
When he appeared on the sidewalk, it wasn’t like a Mary Poppins chalk drawing or anything. But he was there, with arms open wide, saying “Come to me.” This time, she could put a name to him. Jesus. She never did ask him into her heart. Instead, she just walked straight into his. She fit perfectly… holes and all. He cradled her in a love and peace that she has never, ever known. The relief was palpable. Her loneliness began to subside and the waves of sadness were stilled in his comfort.
She stayed in that embrace for a long time… knowing that the heart of her life’s work had begun to shift … from self to serve. In the truest sense of renewal, she found this amazing grace to be cleansing her soul. She felt no other choice than to begin making her life a cradle for him.
Joy to the world, the Lord has come. Let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare him room.
*Her name has not been changed, but she has. How beautiful that her given name is Mary Elizabeth. The reality of the transformation from “Mary” (in Hebrew meaning bitterness or rebelliousness) to “Elizabeth” (in Hebrew meaning ‘My God is abundance or My God is oath”) is not lost on us.