Friday, December 26, 2008

Strength Perfected in Meekness

Friday Fiction

His world pressed in hard, squeezing him in a strange tightness that ebbed and flowed, sometimes threatening to crush him. Discomfort contorted his face.

His mind, too young to understand, could do nothing but accept whatever happened to him.

Helplessness.

Strange sounds filtered through, sounds that troubled him at an instinctive level. Something in his being agreed with it, longed to join in it, but couldn't.

He could only endure as he was squeezed, pushed, rushed headlong into something new. Eyes opened, seeing dimly. Loud noises, once muffled, now roared in his ears. One such cry, filled with anguish, coincided with the final crushing pressure that pushed his whole body into this strange, cold, bright, confusing place.

Something entered his mouth, swept mucous away. Air rushed into his body, filled his chest. He'd never felt anything like it, but a moment later his own voice added to the cries that filled his ears.

The voices around him took on a different tone. His own wails, strident, seemed suddenly out of place. Warmth wrapped around him, comforting him. He quieted.
NewbornImage by juliecampbell via Flickr

And then, a new comfort. A delicious scent, a taste warm and perfect on his tongue. He had never needed to do anything before, but need drove him now. He drank eagerly until sleep overtook him.


----------------

Sweat dampened his robes. Sunlight poured in through the window, providing much-needed light for his workbench, but adding to the discomfort of the heat.

He drove the last nail into the box, a box like countless others he had built over the years, and yet so different. So very, very different...simply because he would never be able to show it to Dad.

Tears blurred his eyes.

His mother came into the workshop, her eyes red with grief. He opened his arms to her, unable to do more than just offer his embrace. Soon he held in his arms the one who once held him.

"I can't believe he's dead." She said it softly, and there was no accusation in her tone. But he knew her heart, knew the unspoken thought.

Yes, Mother, I am Who you think I am. You mustn't doubt, even though My presence did not keep Dad from dying.

"Zacharias' order is ready, mother."

Mother reached out a hand to touch the smoothly planed wood, and she managed a smile through her tears. "You always do such fine work. Your father would be pleased." Her voice broke.

"I always do the will of My Father," he murmured. Even when His will means withholding my power, withholding life, denying joy to those I love.

A neighbor's voice called. "Mary, I've brought you some food, dear."

Mother gave him a sad smile. "Rhoda is so kind." She turned and walked out of the workshop and back toward the house. Yeshua couldn't see her now, but he knew that she wept again.

He sat down. The bench felt hard, offering scant comfort for his tired bones. He hadn't slept well in the few hours since he'd watched his father take his final breaths. And the previous nights had seen him working late, keeping up with his Dad's work orders as well as his own.

Death.

It doesn't get any easier, even when you know it's coming.

He looked at his hands, black with dirt. A splinter pained his left thumb. It had gone in so deep that he would have had to cut himself worse to get it out.

When I was a little boy, Dad told me to ignore the hurts that I couldn't do anything about. He said it was easier to ignore that kind of pain...the kind that you're helpless against. He said it was harder to ignore the pains that you could eliminate, if you knew God wanted you to endure them. He said it was hard to endure the temptation to escape.

How little he understood! I have endured that temptation every moment of my life in this body. I could have changed everything!

I could have refused to feel the pain of labor...pain which all other babies mercifully forget. I could have made the manger softer for my tender new body. I could have commanded angels to hold me up when my wobbly legs were learning to walk, but I didn't. I fell and crashed into things when balance failed me, like any other child. I could have spoken a word and made all of these simple wooden things in a moment of time, the way I spoke the worlds into place. But instead I sawed, and I planed, and I sweated, and I wore myself out in flesh and blood in this carpentry shop. I got splinters, and hit my thumbs with hammers.

I could have spoken all human frailty away.
Instead I let everything come to me as the Father willed it. Just like everyone else.

He looked again at his Dad's workbench. I could have eased your suffering, Dad. You don't know how I pleaded for permission. I could have made you well. I could have turned mother's fear into elation.

"It's not yet your time," my True Father always said. "You may not show yourself yet."

He sighed. "Father, Your will is perfect. How wise are your ways! It has been hard, holding myself back all these years. But I trust You completely. I yield, as always.

He gathered up his meager tools to put them away. The saw handle touched his tender thumb.

Nineteen years. In all my nineteen years, I have never worked a single miracle. It would be so inconsequential, just speaking this annoying splinter away. What harm could such a tiny miracle do? No one would see. All it would take was a word...

But then I would not know what it is to be fully human. I would not be the High Priest who can sympathize with my people's weaknesses.

The word will not be spoken, because The Word will not remove Himself from the Father's mouth. When He speaks, I will speak. I will not yield to the flesh.

The splinter stays. I obey for the glory of God.

And Dad's body will go into the grave.

-----------------

"Mordecai!" Yeshua hugged his friend. "How is your wife? Is she better?"

"Yes, thank God, she is well now, thank you. And how is your mother, and your brothers?"

"They're all fine. They're here, too." Yeshua looked around at the many happy guests. "This will be an especially joyous wedding, I think."

"Yes, they are very much in love. It will be a good day." Mordecai leaned closer. "I hear you've been doing well for yourself...teaching and even having your own disciples? That's admirable."

"Yes, my Father told me it was time." Yeshua knew that no one really felt comfortable with him saying such things. Sure enough, Mordecai lowered his eyes, then excused himself to go greet someone from out of town.

Yeshua accepted a glass of wine from a servant and greeted more friends. But something in his spirit burned hotter than usual today.

I'm thirty years old...surely I must show myself soon! Is that why there's this fire inside of me?

The guests all sat down, and Yeshua sat beside his mother.

The glory in his soul made it a little hard for his flesh to concentrate.

Oh, this weak flesh! It still wants to doubt. Still doesn't fully believe that I'm the Son of God, the Promised One. It tells me I'm crazy, and that I'd better not ever try to do any miracles, because the only result will be making a fool of myself. Thank You, Father, for Your Spirit! If it were not for Him, my flesh might convince me to succumb. But I cannot possibly give in to doubt, not with You igniting everything within me.

It's important for me to feel these doubts, isn't it, Father? My people feel them, too. And I can sympathize.

Loud, excited whispers pulled him out of his thoughts. Ah, the scandal has begun. They've realized there wasn't enough wine.

The familiar thought, "I can fix that," came and went almost unnoticed. Thirty years' worth of resisting that temptation had made such resistance almost automatic.

Almost.

His mother leaned over and whispered to him, and it kind-of surprised him in his flesh. She doesn't usually ask me to intervene. Even when Dad was dying she didn't ask me for a miracle.

Does she also sense the Spirit straining to burst forth in me?

"Dear woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come."

Mother, with her usual piercing perception, seemed to see what happened in Yeshua's soul as soon as he felt it himself.

"Do whatever he tells you to do," she said to the servants.


Yeshua felt as if the very glory of Heaven broke loose inside of him.
Really, Father? Really? Is this how you want me to start?

The affirmative came back with a warmth that filled every inch of his being. "Fill the water pots with water," he told the servants. They complied, and Yeshua's Spirit shouted with joy at the sight of the water turning wine-red. "Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast," he commanded.

Joy overflowed as they hurried away. Glory to You, Father! Glory to You! And yet even with the joy came a new heaviness.

I know where this road leads.

The wisdom of his Father's plan, of his austere preparatory years, shone more clearly than ever now. Every denied desire of my flesh, every refusal to misuse my power for selfish purposes, has given me the strength that will keep me on that road, and will keep me on that cross.

You have trained me well, Father. Bless You!


Grapes photo from Stock.xchng by Hapekla
Wood photo from Stock.xchng by Durdge39


Friday Fiction is being hosted today by Patty over at Patterings. (The actual assignment for the day was just to pick your favorite fictional posting for the year and "re-run" it. But since the Lord gave me something new, I decided to share that instead.) Please drop by Patterings for links to more fiction.

10 comments:

S.C.(S.Harricharan) said...

Oh I love this. Wonderful! I love how you show the stages of His life and the thoughts and feelings. It brings it into a whole new perspective. Wonderful, really wonderful! I'm glad I didn't miss reading this one. ^_^

Sherri Ward said...

Betsy, This is really well-done. I have often wondered about Joseph, and was glad for his inclusion here. And, of course, we all can't help but wonder what it actually must have been like for the Son of Man, the Son of God...

Lynn Squire said...

Very well done.

Catrina Bradley said...

Oh, Betsy, your writing has moved me to tears! The insight into the possible thoughts of Yeshua is outstanding! Beautiful writing - thank you so much!

Laurie M. said...

Really beautiful! The more I think about the incarnation, the more mysterious it becomes. What an unfathomable thing - God taking on flesh and becoming one of His own creatures! It's almost unthinkable, yet I think we'll spend eternity being amazed at the thought. You've brought a bit of it down to earth for me with your fiction. Thanks for that.

Mary Moss said...

This is just amazing! Breathtaking, really.

BethL said...

I like that you have a "Rhoda" in this story. I love the foreshadowing, "Death. It doesn't get any easier, even when you know it's coming." He really could identify with our weaknesses. Then reading of the first miracle in Cana was "so real". Your story makes me want to know more of His "growing up years". The everyday life He lived. Wonderfully written, Betsy (as usual). :)

Joanne Sher said...

Incredibly real and vivid and unique take. SO glad you shared this today! (LOL or yesterday, to be literal) Wow.

Slowly Dying.. said...

You did a fine job with this. I enjoyed reading it and once again felt God "shaking" me. He has been working on me with waiting for Him and I keep questioning Him, "Why can't I do it now?" Then when I am tasked to do something, I ask, "Really, are You serious? This can't be what You want me to do. I can't do that!" Your story has helped me to clearly see that I will have battles within myself and that God's waiting is preparation. Thank you so much and I look forward to reading more.

Patty Wysong said...

This is wonderful, Betsy! The emotions are so real and vivid. Great job!

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