Self-sufficiency and the embrace of Jesus

My youngest daughter is two months shy of her first birthday. This means, of course, that she's at the age when it is all but impossible for her to sit still for any length of time. Somewhere in the recesses of her little mind, she realizes, perhaps subconsciously, that the world is about to open up in the most marvelous of ways. Self-sufficiency, she's beginning to understand, is infinitely preferable to life lying down.

But, oh how I loved those early days of her life. Perhaps more than any other child I've ever known, Lilly was born with a sweet spirit, a gentleness that you can sense will follow her the rest of her life. As such, she loved simply being held.

And those moments, for me, are cherished memories. I would hold her and she'd make these terribly beautiful chirping noises as she buried her face into my chest. Then, she'd smile in a toothless work of art, and my heart would melt like a snowball in a skillet.

I can only imagine her joy at those moments as well. To feel completely loved, I would imagine, for her was equal to my own, different kind of bliss. And I think that feeling is one of the reasons our generation should be so quick to realize how wonderful it is to know Jesus.

It's not the common belief, but it is true nonetheless that my generation -- so-called Generation X -- had self-sufficiency forced upon it. Now, maybe we weren't particularly good at it, but the fact remains that divorce, a high rate of attrition in college, the explosion of the number of children growing up without fathers ... all of these were particularly heaped upon our generation in percentages likely larger than any before.

Because of all that, one of the defining characteristics of our generation is this sense of something being wrong, of always feeling a general sense of malaise. It's the idea, immortalized in the movie "Reality Bites," when Winona Ryder's character talks about being proud of Baby Boomers' sense of social justice, civil disobedience and a pure sense of right and wrong. But, her character says, "they sold out their revolution for a pair of running shoes." What, then, did we have to cling to, socially? Video games? The Cold War? Our culture didn't exactly inspire us.

(Of course, many of us have grown up now, put away the Nirvana records and bought SUVs. The lesson? That every generation puts aside its nonsense in the name of taxes, child rearing and two vacations a year.)

But what I find in Jesus is the very thing many of us, through the course of our lives, long for: He is a place of refuge, a place to hide and bury fears, sadness and uncertainty.

What would you, Generation Xer, give, in the hustle and bustle of a way of life that was perhaps forced upon you, to just once be gently rocked to sleep, to be sung a song, to worry about nothing? That smile on my daughter's face? It's the smile of someone totally at peace, of a mind purely and securely at rest without any hint of knowledge of fear.

That's the embrace I gave my daughter -- and that Jesus gives me.

Forgive my meandering diatribe that may or may not embarrass me in a couple of weeks when I go back and read this. (I'm betting it will). It was written over the course of two days, the bulk of which came at, oh, 2 a.m. or so on a worknight. (See? We Xers are respectable ... I worry about bedtimes.)

But if you got nothing out of this, wrap your mind around the central metaphor here: that all of us, at one point or another, just needs held like a baby, sung a lullaby and kissed on the cheek.

And if you've never experienced the love of Jesus, it's hard to relate how truly wonderful knowing Him can be. It's not all wine and roses. Heck, it's not all beer and dandelions. The great wheel of life still goes 'round and 'round, and every once in awhile it lands on Lose Your Turn.

But when it does, there's always someone there -- The Someone -- who knows just what happens when it's time to spin again.

(copyright andrew j. beckner, 2007. all rights under copyright reserved worldwide. e-mail ephesians514@gmail.com for reprinting information.)