Friday, June 1, 2012

Silent Parades

We did it.  We endured.  Victory was achieved and we were exhausted.  A precious child had been rescued from a system that was ill-equipped to handle his "special needs" with the healing love that would correct brief years of trauma.  Where an "institution" was his future, forever he would now be part of our family.  The threat of removal was finally, permanently extinguished in our hearts and minds.  Nearly 21-months of social worker visits, agency licensing inspections, state mandated therapy appointments, court mandated sibling visits - all of them taking their toll on our family; the harshest impact being upon our son.  In one swift strike of the gavel, these were removed from our future and our son's permanent name was read aloud for the first time.  Our hearts rose and when our boy exclaimed "That's me!"  Even the judge could not suppress a smile.  All tensions were purged and washed from us.

Exhaustion of the mind and will settled upon us as the weight of social agency oversight and state decree was lifted.  We planned a gathering to celebrate, but to be honest, we were far too tired leading up to and during to put together anything elaborate.  A picnic at a local park.  Our children playing, laughing.  A few close friends.  Very little pomp or celebration.  Very little to note that a struggle of eternal consequences had just been won.  Our play date was cut short as a field trip from a nearby school unloaded four busloads of kids onto the playground.  Sensing impending complications, we gathered our children, thanked our friends, and went home.

That night our hearts ached.  Where were the people to support us?  Where were the scores of people who knew about our special day?  To be elevated on a pedestal was and is detestable in our minds.  We did nothing but go where God led, sometimes hanging on for dear life.  We deserve no praise or admiration for this.  We mis-stepped as often as we walked out His will.  But to share the joy of victory over the enemy in the dimpled smile of a precious boy whose identity was forever changed, not just in name, but in mind, in body, in personality and future:  where were those who were supposed cheer as we crossed the finish line?  Certainly our little one deserved this after the hellish events he has lived through, the extensive work and tears he has worked through - all to be brought from the cognitive level of an 18-month old to a 5-year old in less than two years.  He is, in a word, "amazing".  Where was the "victory parade"?

But there were no parades, there were no large celebrations.  A dear friend made some of the most delicious cupcakes with all of our names on them.  All the while the world continued to scarcely take notice of us...

It was a dimly lit hovel.  He leaned over the matting, protectively and watched the men.  There were several of these herdsmen and they all reeked of the fields.  It was evident that they had been with their charges for several days and had rarely bathed in that time frame.  He had done his best to clean a suitable bedding for his young wife within the meager surroundings.  Matting straw and blankets together, he had managed a pallet for her to rest upon.  He had found an old feeding trough and had loosely packed straw into it and padded it with his donkey's saddle blanket.  The baby was sleeping in this now.  The herdsmen were in awe.  Tears rimmed their eyes as they stared intently upon his newborn son.  Their story was strange - "heavenly hosts" directing them here, to this filthy animal shed.  This was supposed to be the Son of God, Immanuel, the very Messiah.  Were these few herdsmen the only ones to take note?  Wouldn't God proclaim this to the entire world?  Wouldn't His very finger blaze the skies proclaiming the arrival of man's salvation?...

The last of the dust settled.  The quake had ended abruptly and light penetrated the chamber.  The only sound this morning was the soft footfalls of his bare feet as he stepped out of the cavern.  Fresh cool air kissed his cheek in the early morning.  Closing his eyes he breathed deeply, taking in the herbed fragrances of the hillside.  Looking down armored men lay scattered about him brokenly, expressions of terror still etched on their now comatose faces.  Some were tightly gripping spears, some swords.  Some, face down,  appeared to have been fleeing.  Fear had overwhelmed all of them.  Closing his eyes again, he recounted the nameless ones, the rending claws, the terrible teeth, the brutal onslaught of demonic fury that was born upon him in never ending wave after wave in the bowels of that place.  Demonic faces distorted into gleeful men driving nails into hands and feet.  Glancing down he saw the nail prints.  Wicked laughter dissipated into the morning chorus of the returning songbirds.  Hell had been defeated.  Lucifer had been finally and decisively overthrown on this sphere.  Sin and Death were no longer to be feared because of the blood spent and the body broken.  The price had been paid in full.  He turned and walked away from the tomb in silence...

Victory doesn't always get a parade.  Wars won don't always get a celebration.  But this does not diminish the true eternal value of the effort nor the necessity of our following after our Father with reckless abandon because we're not living for just this "here and now".  Our lives have eternal weight upon the lives of others. Our own Savior stepped down from unimaginable glory to a silent arrival, successfully living as a sinless man, and dying a criminal's death bearing all sin to the grave, conquering Sin and Death once for all for every person.  And on a quiet Sunday morning, He walked out of the tomb, without a parade, without a celebration. 

So don't get discouraged when the masses don't rally or the ticker-tape fails to fall.  Rather take heart that you are walking in your Savior's footsteps and He knows what you feel and He has equipped you for everything He has called you to.  Even when no one else sees, He sees and He loves you and is proud of you!  He is, after all, the Grand Marshall of Silent Parades.

"My servant grew up in the LORD’s presence like a tender green shoot, like a root in dry ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him. He was despised and rejected— a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows[a] that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed."

Isaiah 53:2-5 (NLT)

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