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On the Side - December 2013

The Honking Harem
by Shelly Wyrick

The geese have flown south. They honked over our house in takeoff, gaining speed and form until two V’s became one and suddenly they were gone.  The mega-store has been selling inflatable Rudolph for the last two months.

Must be Christmas time.

Indeed. My mailbox is chock-full of catalogs and I’m fine tuning the menu for my first attempt at hosting twenty-five physicians and their spouses. Lord help me. There are 14 nieces and nephews to buy for and three of my own to spoil. And the calendar- Pancakes with Santa on Saturday morning, idyllically some sledding to follow before the church Christmas production that evening. We can’t bear to miss the Nutcracker the next day, nor the holiday symphony fundraising event. There is no time, ladies. Hop to it-pel mel.

In all the hulabaloo we know there is a story. A beautifully rustic and soothingly simple story about a babe in some hay. We know it’s about this small magnificent God-child and yet we are pulled in so many directions that it leaves our heads spinning, unable to focus on the one True thing. Our stress mounts and anxiety seeps in like spilled wine on a white tablecloth –running over and taking the joy right out of the celebration.

Recently, a Bible study I was working on suggested I memorize Psalm 139:23-24: “Search me O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there is any hurtful way in me and lead me in the everlasting way” (NASB).

Furthermore, it suggested I recite the verse when my concerns swirl in my head like water in a blender.  I now know it by heart and say it to myself at three in the morning when I ought to be in peaceful slumber, and about 137 other times through the day.

I’m not asking you to memorize it. I’m telling you to. Stop for two seconds, write it on a sticky-note and put it next to the grocery list or your eye-liner. As you do, know that I have too, and we can together focus on the Gift, rather than drowning in the presents. 

The Parable of the Good Sister
Once, a woman was walking down a road when suddenly three robbers, named Stress, Anxiety, and Insecurity came along and beat her. They were old frenimies yet they disguised themselves and jumped her while she was pre-occupied. When they left her beaten down on the side of the road she was unrecognizable – appearing more like the woman she had been before Christ saved her than the new one He had made her into.  She lay there tattered and torn when a sister-in-Christ walked by.

The woman, a leader of her small group, pulled over but was unable to offer a ride as she had just finished shopping for her angel-tree child and the car was now crammed with three plush polar bears each the size of an igloo. She attempted condolence asking, “Why is this bothering you so much?” The battered woman looked up from where she sat in the filth and started thinking that maybe she shouldn’t let her wounds get to her.

Next, the pastor’s wife came by. She was really busy herself with the Ladies Christmas Tea coming up. With her pinterestly-decoupaged clipboard in hand she turned, saw the woman on the ground and said “You’re doing everything right, just keep doing what your doing. I’ll pray for you”

Just as the confusion of it all was searing into her heart, up ran a friend. Huffing, puffing and hair slightly awry from the urgency, she fell to her knees. Without even needing to explain about how Anxiety, Stress, and Insecurity had looked so innocent, her friend began to gush, “I knew you’d be coming to this part of town today. I had been praying for you all morning. Here, let me help you up. I am so sorry I was not here sooner. Come, we will get cleaned up and go for coffee.”

Silent Honkers
Ultimately, keeping a clear head and heart this season isn’t a self-help tool… it’s a help-others tool. Reciting Psalm 139:23-24 won’t necessarily solve your problems. What I’m suggesting is that it could solve someone else’s. When we focus on Jesus, we are freed to see what God is doing around us, where He is working, and who He is putting in our life that needs His love through us. We don’t want to be so busy with the Christmas itinerary that we miss a fallen sister.

When geese fly south for the winter they fly in a V-formation to save energy. The goose at the front only leads for a while. When it tires, it drops back and another goose takes its place. The geese fly much further when they are together like this, bearing the elements in a strategic low-wind resistance formation. Alone they could not go so far. Together they are united and strong. The geese from the back honk along in encouragement to the front flyers who are bearing the brunt. When one goose gets sick or hurt, it will fall out of formation and land. I’ve heard that often two other geese follow and stay by its side until it is able to fly again.

Join me this month in memorizing and applying Psalm 139:23-24 to our lives, so that we might keep a clear head this month. Search me O God and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; See if there is any hurtful way in me; and lead me in the everlasting way. Having a clear head and heart will allow us to see those in need around us.  While I promise to not demonstrate my best goose-honk, I will lift you up in encouraging prayer.  Most of us have never met, yet we can unite in the Word, being more powerful together and better able love others this season.  Who knows, it could end up being the best gift we could offer a babe in some hay.

Shelly Wyrick lives in Spokane, WA where she, her physician husband, and their "gaggle" of three kids are getting ready for Christmas.  Shelly hopes that you are able to experience the JOY of celebrating the gift of Jesus now and throughout the year.