Completely Stripped Bare

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What do we do when life completely strips us bare?  It’s a tough question.

Some of you have no idea of what I speak.  Some of you know all too well.

When bad things happened to me before my family’s wreck, I always had an “and.”  When my husband and I had a miscarriage, I still had my husband and my job and our bank account.  When my mom survived cancer, not once, but twice, I still had her and my dad and my friends and my health.

But moments after we crashed I literally had nothing earth could provide.  There were no “ands.”

I didn’t have my husband.  My best friend.  My protector.  My earthly provider.  My go-to-always-dependable human being.  He was gone . . . gone to the hospital with our children.

I didn’t have my children.  The absolute lights of my life.  My joy.  My purpose.  The two human beings who I would die for without question.  They were gone . . . gone to the hospital.

I didn’t have my parents.  The earthly foundation and guidance of my life.  My encouragers.  People who would never withhold their love and forgiveness from me.  They were completely unaware that eight hours away, all hell had broken loose for their only child.

I didn’t have my education.  There seems to be this fallacy that a “good education” will ensure your success in the adult world.  I assure you, my college degree and academic awards meant nothing on that beautiful, sunny, horrific day.

I didn’t have my job.  I had a nice job at the time, but my job wasn’t doing squat for me as I simply tried to breathe – a task which took almost all my concentration.

I didn’t have my talent.  No amount of singing Broadway show tunes and making emergency personnel laugh was going to help.

I didn’t have my health.  My right leg was so twisted and grotesque there was no way I could have gotten out of my vehicle on my own.  My broken rib felt as if a cement block was resting on my chest.  The numerous deep cuts and gashes hadn’t even registered on my pain scale, and the bruising that would literally cover me from head to toe just a few short hours later had yet to appear.

I didn’t have my bank account.  I could have futilely sat in that smashed minivan and told the EMTs how my husband and I had saved our whole lives.  My money was inconsequential.  In just the time it would take the life flight to carry me and then my daughter to the Charleston Trauma Center, our entire savings would have been depleted if insurance hadn’t paid the bulk of those two helicopter rides.

I certainly didn’t have my friends.  I seriously have a team of some of the absolute best people on the planet who would support me in a heartbeat.  But they couldn’t support me then.  I was eight hours away and no one even knew what had happened.  My phone?  Who knew where it was at that point?  Who cared?

Absolutely stripped bare.  No husband, no children, no parents, no education, no job, no talent, limited health, no money, no friends, and no way to communicate with the people I loved.

I didn’t cry.  I didn’t scream.  (Until later, when the Jaws of Life removed the door on which I’d been thrust.)  I simply sat with my left hand up in the air holding onto Jesus.  And at a moment when it appeared I had nothing this world can offer, I realized I had who I had always had.

Just Jesus.  And when I say “just Jesus” there’s no “just” about it.  All these earthy things I thought mattered really didn’t matter when Satan and this world hurled a super-bad situation at me.

I love what Jen Hatmaker says in her book, Interrupted: When Jesus Wrecks Your Comfortable Christianity. (By the way, the irony of that title is not lost on me.)  She says, I liked imagining I was something rather than realizing I am nothing.

Until the wreck I erroneously thought I was something.  I had “the people.”  I had “the stuff.”  And being stripped absolutely bare in a crumpled vehicle in the unmerciful July West Virginia sun made me realize this: I was really nothing!

But I had what I needed.  Jesus was literally holding my hand in that wrecked van and nobody can tell me otherwise.  In fact, one EMT said, “Mrs. Jagger, you can put your hand down now.”  I resolutely replied, “Nope!  I’m holding onto Jesus right now and He’s all I’ve got.”  There was a calm and a peace in me that only could have been provided by Jesus and His Father.

I love it in the New Testament when Jesus has literally been feeding thousands of people and all of a sudden He lays out exactly what it will cost for people to follow Him.  The masses just wanted a free buffet, but Jesus wanted true followers.  The Bible tells us that almost everyone who had been following Him left.

And then there were his twelve disciples.  And Jesus turned to them, “What about you?  Aren’t you going to leave me too?”  And Peter (I confess he’s my favorite disciple) bluntly asks, “Lord, to who else would we go?”

And now I understand his words.  Now I have been stripped bare.  Now I have lived it.  And now I can confidently answer the tough question I posed to myself and you, Dear Reader.

Now I know I only have one option and one answer.  To who else would I turn?

Until next Wednesday, Lord willing.  Thank you for following my blog and for any recommendations you might make to family and friends.