God sent Moses with the command that Pharaoh “let my people go.” When Pharaoh refused, God brought ten plagues on the land of Egypt. Hebrews 11:28 refers to the tenth and worst plague, which was the death of all the firstborn in Egypt on the night of the very first Passover, “By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them.” This refers to the instructions God gave the Israelites to sacrifice a spotless lamb (“without blemish”) and mark their doorposts with its blood. When the Lord’s “Destroyer” passed through the nation, He would “pass over” the households that showed the blood. The lamb’s blood saved the Israelites from the plague and spared the lives of their firstborn children.
Early each holiday season when the lights and ornaments are brought out from storage and we fill the house with festive decorations, we also bring out an old baby doll our girls used to play with. We swaddle the doll in a faded, worn receiving blanket, place it in a shoebox covered in brown paper with a shiny red bow, and slide it under our Christmas tree. It’s a simple representation of the gift of baby Jesus.
The brown paper box is meant to be a manger, so it’s also filled with “straw” made from ripped strips of yellow construction paper. Many of these strips of paper have statements written on them.
Recently after band practice I listened to our kids’ conversation on the car ride home. Although they are enthusiastically committed, they typically vent out their complaints: the repetition and monotony, harsh conditions, tough messages from teachers with high expectations, unclear directions, difficult personalities, evolving and unforeseen changes, lack of progress. As I listened it crossed my mind that they could actually be describing my faith walk. I’m committed but complaining about similar things, just plodding along, uncomfortable, frustrated, discouraged by the cares of this world. There are seasons where this is generally the norm more than the exception. God never promised we would live pain-free.
Seasons of Change
My identity as a mom has indeed changed as my kids have grown. Now that I am raising 2 teenagers and one tween, I am no longer perceived as the wonder woman-mom they idolized in infancy and toddler hood. Mothering used to be sweetly characterized by singing songs in the rocking chair, playground swings and glittery art projects; now it involves chauffeuring, arguments, whining and drama.
We’re very fortunate to live in a neighborhood which was once the site of a tree farm. Our property is inhabited by a variety of very old, very tall trees which cover everything in a blanket of shade. I’ve learned after 20+ years of living here, not to waste time trying to grow sun-loving plants. The only exception is the single corner of our house which gets the right amount of direct sun to keep a purple wisteria vine happy and flourishing. It has enthusiastically climbed all the way up the side of the house, sending its pendulous blossoms cascading elegantly over the roof.
Our society uses merit-based standards to judge whether someone or something is worthy of a title or role, such as a Grammy or Oscar award winner, military General, Nobel Laureate, pageant winner, etc. We consider income, status, accomplishments or the opinions of others to determine worth. We also place a great emphasis on self-esteem, which is defined as “a feeling that you are a good person who deserves to be treated with respect.”
But what does scripture say about worth and worthiness?