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Strong Ending

From a fairly early age, I found “endings” nearly impossible to handle. I would cry at their portrayal in a movie or in a book, and I would cry and totally melt down about them in real life. My parents often dreaded sending me off to a spend-the-night, or probably even to camp, simply because I had such a hard time transitioning back when those fun times were over. To this day, the ending of beach weeks leaves me grieving for a few days, as does the end of summer and the end of school. Perhaps it is a fear of change, perhaps there is a safety in the moment that isn’t certain in the unknown next moment. Sometimes it is just as simple as “This is fun and I don’t want the fun to end!” We’re at just such another moment as the school year comes to an end and therefore, our official ties to these two school communities is also coming to an end since we are not returning to either next year. I woke up in a panic about it last night.

The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. Matt. 8:25-26

That is about the nature of my internal alarm…”Ahhh, I’m going to drown!!!!” In my case, because there are no actual waves, it is not exactly a rational fear…which makes it all the more gripping. I assume with the fishermen, they knew how to handle themselves in a boat in calm water. They knew that so well, probably, they could do it with their eyes shut. They knew that system, all the rules of navigation, the familiar tidal patterns and smells and sense of community among the other boats. But sailing out into this storm was not normal, it was not known and they felt all alone.

If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ Matt. 6:30-31

If God cares so much about that which is perishing, of course He cares infinitely more about His children who He is growing and preparing for eternity. Again, I’m not actually worried about what I’ll eat, drink or wear, but it is that same encompassing panic that comes from a sense of disorientation that leads me to forget He is caring for me, is with me and will never leave me nor forsake me. What happens to me in these times of endings is that I feel my grasp on stability coming loose, so I forget that His never does. To dig a little deeper, my heart believes that my well being or strength or even confidence is tied to my grip on a certain community or position or routine rather than God’s grip on me.

After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.” Gen. 15:1

See, my shield is my association with socially approved institutions or groups. Or, maybe not even socially approved but how about just identifiable? “Oh no, no, I am not invisible or average, see I am connected to this school/this club/this alma mater/this function/this cause…” I don’t just hide behind these communities but I clothe myself in them rather than Jesus. I feel confident dressed in them and totally naked without them. So, the fear that gripped me in the middle of the night was essentially, “I am about to be naked after tomorrow, Ellie’s last day at Westminster!”

The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. Gen. 3:21

The men designated by name took the prisoners, and from the plunder they clothed all who were naked. They provided them with clothes and sandals, food and drink, and healing balm. All those who were weak they put on donkeys. So they took them back to their fellow Israelites at Jericho, the City of Palms, and returned to Samaria. 2 Chron. 28:15

I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. Is. 61:10

for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. Gal. 3:27

I am not naked but clothed in the only identity that doesn’t have an ending, ever. My connection isn’t to a man-made institution or conditionally defined group or set of new laws for self-righteousness. I am connected into the body of Jesus, clothed in Him and found, always, in Him. My fears of failure with my children’s education, fears of drowning in poor time management, fears of the wind and waves of unpredictability and changing communities all forget who is in control of the boat and those winds and waves. Oh by the strength only possible if provided by His grace, would I not shrink back in shame as if naked today when we say our goodbyes to the predictable waters of Westminster. Instead, would my joy and strength and confidence and hope and peace and anticipation be entirely focused on my bridegroom who has more in store for this boat ride than just routine sailing.

She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. Prov. 31:25

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