Several years ago, my husband and I and two very sad grandkids stood solemnly around the grave of Yoda, the hermit crab. Just 30 minutes earlier, the kids had arrived to spend the night and everyone was eagerly anticipating an evening of fun and laughter.
As soon as Huston was in the door, he darted excitedly to our crab-a-tat to check on his beloved pets. Then, in an instant, as so often happens, everything changed. Our hearts dropped as we heard his horrible wail.
“Yoda is dead!” Huston lamented. “I picked up his shell and he fell right out.”
After much hugging and consoling, we scooped up the lifeless form, took him to the backyard and held a touching crab funeral. We sang a few hymns and Arden decorated the crab grave with an artful display of sticks and grass.
After the sad event, I went back into the house to remove Yoda’s shell. No need, I thought, to keep a sad reminder of the dearly departed in the cage. As I reached into the crab-a-tat, I couldn’t believe my eyes! Staring back at me from the speckled shell were the brightest, most vibrant crustacean eyes that I had ever seen. The beloved Yoda was alive and well!
After some quick computer research to solve the mystery of the resurrected crab, our puzzlement turned into hilarity. With our new knowledge, we now understood that Yoda had simply molted. We couldn’t stop laughing when we came to realize that, yes, we had just held a funeral for a bunch of crab skin!
Sadly, I sometimes repeat that behavior in my daily living. I mourn for current events in my life or in the world because I don’t know the whole story. I forget that God DOES. In fact, He is the AUTHOR! As humans with limited vision, we don’t know what our stories hold, but as believers we know for certain that our stories end well. We know that God wins!
I was reminded of God’s unstoppable power as I began reading Matthew this week. I was struck by my previous lack of attention to the post-Christmas story found in the second chapter of my favorite book of the gospel.
Christ was born and the world was forever changed. Yet, the world was immediately against Him.
Even as a young child, Christ had a terrible enemy in the form of King Herod.
King Herod was powerful. King Herod was cunning. King Herod spoke to the wise men and implored them to tell him the location of the Christ Child. “I want to worship Him,” he lied smoothly, and probably with a winning smile.
Things did not look good for Jesus. The murderous Herod was thirsty for blood. If the media had been following Jesus, their headlines would have predicted gloom and most definitely doom.
Yet God’s plans were unstoppable.
God is supernatural and He came to the wise men in the supernatural form of a dream. They obeyed God’s instructions to avoid Herod and headed back to their homes without revealing the location of the Christ Child. God also directed Joseph through a dream when it was time to move to Egypt.
Jesus was safe and God’s plans prevailed.
That great lesson from Matthew seems particularly poignant right now.
With the current political climate resembling a tsunami, hurricane, tornado, ice storm, firestorm and blizzard all rolled into one, it is easy to forget that nothing stops God’s plans. With COVID, violence and animosity on the rise, it is easy to forget that God wins.
As believers faced with seemingly overwhelming difficulties, we tend to make two mistakes. One misguided tendency is the desire to right the wrongs on our own without stopping to ask God what He would have us do. We can easily join causes, write emails, post opinions, join marches and preach at others without asking direction from the Lord who knows all.
The second misguided tendency is to do nothing. We can decide that the easiest route is to mimic the proverbial ostrich and place our heads in the nice, warm sand. The “sand” can take the form of TV, video games, social media and lots of other distractions that we prioritize over prayer and doing the work that God has for us.
So, what do we do?
We keep our eyes on Jesus.
…and let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. -Hebrews 12:1b-4, NLT
As the verse states, and as we learn from the story of Jesus and Herod, Jesus endured incredible hostility. Yet, even when death found Jesus, it could not hold Him. In fact, His death brought light and life to the entire world.
Keep your eyes on Him. Keep the bright hope of Christ foremost in your hearts and in your minds. Without the hope and realization that God wins, it is easy to run in futile, angry circles or to give up and withdraw from the world.
Keep hope. Keep heart. Keep your eyes on Him and ask Him to show you the way. Ask Him to lead you to the work that He has for you to do and ask Him to bring spiritual awakening to our land. Jesus is hope.
Let your hope light shine. No more crying over crab skin!