Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Proud Mary and Her Puppets

Our Ainsley was selected to play the part of Mary in her little school's Christmas pageant this season. I wish I could say that as they searched the class over they could find none more blessed among women than her. Instead, I'm pretty sure she got the part because the costume they had fit her the best. In any case, a proud Mary she was.


In truth she didn't really feel especially blessed to have been given this role. On the way out of school the day she'd been given the big casting news (albeit not as big as the first Mary's announcement) she was decidedly unenthused. She said with a sigh, "Well, I'd rather be the donkey because he gets to sit down during the pageant." Of course. Why pick the blessing of all generations when you can be a jackass? Is there really a contest? Mock though I do, I've felt the same way more times than I care to recall.

There have been times when the role I've been assigned in the story of my life was one I wouldn't have chosen first. And I'm sure that's because I knew it would require me to stand. To truly stand firm on the foundation of my faith in a sovereign God even when the road ahead looked terribly treacherous and scary. Botched plans and real heartache looked imminent and had I been given the choice, I would have much rather taken the role where I got to sit down. To sit it out. To leave hope on the floor and not risk the pain or embarrassment if things didn't go according to the plan or role I'd dreamt up for myself. But somewhere along the way I realized that it's not up to me to stand upright all the while. That there's Someone who will steady my shoulders and get me up and over the steepest hills and through deepest caverns. And I'll be the better for it.

And when the scene changes, God raises my hand above my head for me, still gloved and wet from the fight, declaring me victorious. Fight well fought! Struggle overcome. And we both know that I fell more than once. That had I not leaned on Him I'd have sunk to a place I couldn't have escaped without His help. But together we got through. Moved ahead. Overcame. That's the good stuff. The stuff worth standing up for (no matter how tiring) and taking the role chin up. If I'm sitting the whole time (with the other donkeys), besides being decidedly smelly, there's just nothing happening down there. Nothing to be learned or gained. Nothing to make me better.

I'm not sure that Ainsley got such a life changing lesson out of her part in the play, but she did come out the wiser for it. Just last night she pulled out these little finger puppets and proceeded to enact this simple finger puppet play:


Mary:(As the angel hops up next to her) Ahhh! Shrieks in horror.
Angel: Don't be afraid. I bring you special news.
Mary: What?
Angel: You will have a baby and will name him Jesus.
Mary: Can I name him Bob?>
Angel: No, Jesus.
Mary: Bob! (in a shout)
Angel: Jesus! (also a shout)
Mary: Bob!
Enter the alligator puppet,
Mary: Ahhh! Shrieks in horror.
Angel: Mary, I told you not to be afraid.
Mary: I know, I know but don't you see there's an alligator right there?!

I realize that most modern translations of the Bible don't carry the account of the foreboding alligator puppet entering the scene in Nazareth. Or of Mary and Gabriel arguing that the coming Messiah's name should be Bob. But it's a version I can appreciate all the same.

I really loved this story. Mary believed. It took her a second to not freak out when an angel appeared to her teen aged, virgin self and told her she'd give birth to God, as one might expect. But she trusted him very quickly. She bravely said she would do as the Lord desired no matter the great personal cost she would pay.

Then the alligators came. She found herself riding a donkey while nine months pregnant for weeks on end only to wind up in a stinky barn to give birth with nary an epidural in sight. For the love. But it got worse. People wanted to hurt her son. To kill him, even. And she might have felt compelled to remind God that trust is a wee more challenging when a horrendous death is prepared for her beloved child. Of course I trust you but don't you see the alligator that's right there?!

How many times am I just like this? I say that I trust God. I mean that I trust God. Yet when the big challenges of life (the alligators) come on the scene I feel it's urgent that I check to see if God's aware that new characters have emerged and they look pretty awful. That things do look ominous and is He aware of that tail slapping the water like crazy and has He seen those fang teeth?

The thing is, of course, He already knows the alligator is there. And where He sits on heaven's throne the alligator is 1/100th the size of a grain of sand. (Probably smaller but math's never been my strong suit.) And He knows when it's going to leave me alone and how much stronger I'm going to be for having braved my time in the cold water with him swimming all around me. How much less afraid I'll be of smaller prey and schemes the next time around. How I'll be reminded of His protection, His care, His ability to swat my fears away like so much rippling water. How that alligator couldn't have so much as opened its mouth unless God allowed it. He's the dearest and most compassionate playwright and the role He has for each of us is so good. Maybe not always easy but always good.

Oh, how He loves us and cares for our every need without any reminders from us.



Ainsley, blessed among women indeed.

1 Comment so far - Add yours!

  1. How funny, my little guy was Joseph in his school play. He was just happy to be able to carry a stick (staff) on stage to play his role. Never mind that he was playing the role of a man called on to father the son of God.

    If it were not for our Savior, the alligators in my life would have eaten me up a long time ago.

    Sending hugs!

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