In our family, we spend Christmas Eve with my side of the family and Christmas Day with my husband’s side of the family. Grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins all together for two solid days of celebrating. On each side, we have a photographer. My sister-in-law is responsible for oh so many family photos over the years. And on Dr’s side, one of his aunts loves to take pictures throughout family events to share with all of us in our family Facebook group.
Three years ago, Dr’s photog aunt hosted the family Christmas celebration in her home. She had created a little slideshow of her photos from Christmases past and it played all day long on the living room TV. I sat there, staring, watching pictures of our family, seeing so many smiling faces and loved ones we miss. Also in those pictures, I saw my own smiles and knew they were hiding the pain of infertility raging just under the surface.
Saffron came over to sit with me on the hearth as I watched the photos scroll by. She snuggled up to me and I hugged her so tight. My soul offering prayers of gratitude to a Father who graciously gave us the little girl in my arms and our son playing somewhere with his grandparents.
Our sweet aunt caught this moment of us together.
My miracle, beautiful, little girl in my arms. I whispered in her ear, “I love you so much, Baby Girl. I am so grateful God gave us you.”
And I’m pretty positive I was crying.
The truth about our journey through infertility wasn’t that our victory came wrapped up in sweet blankets, making adorable cooing sounds, filling our empty arms with a much loved and prayed for baby.
Our victory came in finding Jesus.
In learning about the heart of God and how to live a life of gratitude rooted in Him.
And when I think back on about those days on the way to victory, the victory of knowing Jesus instead of just knowing facts about Him, I smile remembering the people He sent to walk alongside me.
Brave, Godly, humble women God used to point me back to Him and away from my circumstances. Women who prayed and cheered and wept and counseled me. When I thought I might drown in my grief, they rowed a boat right up to me and pulled me inside. Much more than friends, they became my sisters, my prayer warriors, my rescue team. They never failed to love me in a way that honored both my heart and journey and every time I needed a redirect, they pointed me straight to the Healer, my Savior, my Friend.
God sent me rescue.
Naaman’s Rescue Team
At this point, maybe you’re hoping we’re done with Naaman. Sometimes it feels like we’ve pulled more than enough out of this one story. And for the love, it’s in the Old Testament.
But, we’re not done.
(Shhhh… but I’m not at all sorry.)
As a brief refresher, Naaman served the Armenian army as it’s general. He was wealthy and powerful and dying of leprosy. His wife’s Israeli servant girl knew the man of God could heal Naaman and she told Naaman’s wife about him. Naaman got permission from his king to go to the King of Israel to find this man of God for healing. King One sent him to King Two and King Two then sent Naaman to Elisha, the man of God his wife’s maid spoke about. Elisha sent his apprentice, Gehazi, to meet Naaman and give him the recipe for healing. A healing Naaman thought was too ordinary to even bother attempting. He kinda pitched a general-sized fit. But Naaman’s servants, the people who loved and respected him, convinced him to do the thing Elisha asked him to do. And then Naaman was healed.
Boom! How was that for brief? You’re welcome.
Did you catch all the people in Naaman’s story?
Israeli Servant Girl
King of Israel
Seven. Seven individuals or groups. All part of Naaman’s story of healing.
All part of Naaman’s rescue team.
Humanity’s Rescue Team
Sometimes, underneath all the To Do Lists and party commitments and preschool programs and classroom celebrations and decorations and lights that keep going out FOR SOME REASON and endless baking and late nights wrapping gifts, we forget this entire season serves as a reminder to us of God’s rescue.
God sent Jesus.
And to get Jesus here, humbly but safely, He recruited a rescue team of His own. Mary and Joseph, of course. Gabriel, the angel who came to Mary, Joseph, and Zechariah. Elizabeth and her miracle baby, John. Even Ceasar Augustus who issued the order for everyone to return to their ancestral home fulfilling Old Testament prophecies. The shepherds in the fields. The heavenly hosts proclaiming the arrival of the Savior.
Gabriel and the Heavenly Hosts
Elizabeth (and in utero John the Baptist)
The Shepherds in the Fields
Seven. Seven individuals or groups. All part of God’s rescue.
Each person, couple, and group carefully drafted onto God’s rescue team for humanity. All part of God’s plan to redeem His people and restore them to their intended place, as joint-heirs with Christ. Sons and daughters of the King.
Your Rescue Team
“God rescued us from dead-end alleys and dark dungeons. He’s set us up in the kingdom of the Son he loves so much, the Son who got us out of the pit we were in, got rid of the sins we were doomed to keep repeating.” ~Colossians 1:13-14 (The Message)
I love The Message version of that verse. “God rescued us from dead-end alleys.”
How many “dead-end alleys” have you been rescued from over the years?
And in each of those alleys, I had a team of people around me helping to lead me away from a certain dead-end back to the Light. My parents, my brother, Sunday School teachers, youth ministers, roommates, best friends, husband, co-workers, Bible study leaders, neighbors.
Wonderful, amazing, challenging people who rowed right up to me in their rescue boat when I was sick and dying in my dead-end alley and carried me straight to The Healer.
Gratitude for Our Rescue
This time of year can be hard. Brutal, even. Loneliness and grief, small bank accounts and long wish lists, unforgettable homes lost and the forgotten homeless, empty cribs and full hospital beds, crammed schedules and as little sleep as necessary.
A whole bunch of dead-end alleys.
How do we turn around? How do we start back the way we came? Return to The Light?
A good place to start, offer gratitude for Your Rescue Team.
Begin with being grateful for something. Maybe the dead-end alley itself.
Then on to everything in that alley. Your individual rescue team members, the events in the alley, lessons learned, revelations that brought you closer to Your Healer.
And the last, most important step, offer sincere, humble gratitude for the One Thing…Your Healer, who sent that rescue team He started with His own son.
Send that Sunday School teacher a Facebook message of thanks. Craft a handwritten note to place inside the gift for your neighbor. Text your boat rowers who have year after year after year pulled you safely inside the boat and brought you to the feet of your Savior.
Our rescue teams are worthy of our gratitude and time. My sweet rescue team prayed up two precious babies and introduced me to the heart of my Savior through their love and honor and service. God saved Naaman from death with his rescue team. And He saved all of us from an eternity separated from Him when He sent Jesus.
God always sends rescue. Our response should be to thank Him for that rescue and thank the people He put on His team for us. And Christmas seems like a pretty good time of year for that.