Volume 11 #4

I was a bit tired. Often my body follows suit when my soul grows weary from too many sad stories and broken kids. I was sitting in the church basement – contemplating quietly as the kids raced around the room, laughing. It was a simple game of tag (boys against girls!) and it made me smile.

Donny jumped up on a chair and screamed, “Base! Base! This is base!”

But Natalie went charging at him just the same and yelled, “THERE IS NO BASE!!”

My smile turned into a sigh. Isn’t that the truth? Sometimes there just is no base and we run and run but never seem to find a place to rest our hearts. So it seems when we grow weary. This year has brought many joys but we’ve also weathered our share of stories we wish weren’t true. Kids getting pregnant, a 13-year-old trying prostitution for quick cash, boys protecting little brothers from abusive fathers, middle-schoolers getting caught up in neighborhood violence and families struggling to keep food on the table and water in the pipes. We’ve held little girls in our arms as they sleep and broken up fights that have brewed in families for years. All the while doing our best to raise kids up to be kind, responsible and whole.

We’ve helped kids learn to read and they’ve taught us about generosity and resilience. We’ve marveled as many of them hear the story of Jesus for the first time. We’ve served countless bowls of spaghetti-o’s, pulled out slivers and bandaged blisters. We’ve lost our tempers and asked for forgiveness. We’ve played innumerable games of Candyland and beaded more necklaces than we could ever wear. We’ve lived in light of God’s goodness and – by His grace – sometimes we even manage to love well.

As I watched Donny jump from the chair and madly flee the 9-year-old wrath of Natalie I began to wonder. There might not be a “base” during a game of tag but I know for certain that deep in the arms of Jesus there is a safe place in the midst of our lives. All because of a King who left His throne to lie in a manger. Christmas seals it. The incarnation guarantees a refuge in the shadow of our great God become Man.

The Truth of Jesus Christ is what keeps the Hope in our hearts and drives us to give – even when we feel so empty. His grace and the human life that began under the brightest star in the sky still have the same power and purpose to make the angels sings. His presence demands the least and greatest to pause and worship – even two thousand years later and half a world away from a humble Bethlehem stable. Emmanuel, God is with us, is the heartbeat of our faith. And it is here where we rest our weary souls.

Donny ran until he collapsed in a giggling pile with all the other little boys. We finally were able to slow Natalie down by bribing her with a plate of grilled cheese and turkey sandwiches. My smile was back. We can rest – even in the middle of the pain, chaos and uncertainty. This world is full of unknowns and uncertainties. But our God is sure, His promise will prevail and His children will stand.

God is good and the life He gives is full of hope and joy. May each heart rest in this goodness as we celebrate His presence.

* all names and identifying details have been changed to protect anonymity © Amy Beth Barlow