From Cribs to Crucibles

We purchased it at Sears. It wasn’t the cheapest model nor was it the most expensive. We loaded two boxes in our new station wagon: one was very heavy; the other lighter, but bulky. No time was wasted when we got home: Lois was eight months pregnant and the crib needed to be assembled – now! I distinctly recall wading through the confusing instructions and almost indecipherable diagrams and watching Lois, out of the corner of my eye, standing at the bedroom door bewildered that it could take so long to put together a crib.

Finally, hours later, it was complete.

Lois was leaning over the adjustable rail to put the freshly washed sheets on the mattress when there was a pop and the rail fell into the crib. Holding on to the rail so it wouldn’t fall on her toes, Lois turned and looked at me, burst into tears saying, “This crib is supposed to protect our baby!”

Cribs are designed to protect. (Yes, we did get the crib assembled correctly and used it with all three of our children before giving it away to another young family.) There is something comforting about putting a baby in a crib; knowing the child will be safe. But as the child begins to grow, parents trade the crib for a toddler bed with a rail and then for a full-size bed. Bunk beds may even be included in the process. Parents teach children how to get in and out of bed, how to make the bed, how to change the sheets; it’s all part of growing up.

Oh how necessary it is for us to recognize that growing up in Christ also means leaving the safety and comfort of the crib! Just as we move from Birth to Benediction and from Formula to Faithfulness, we are compelled to move from the calm and security of our holy huddles into the crucible of the world.

A crucible is where precious metals are purified. It is the graphite container in which gold, for instance, is melted down in order to make an exquisite piece of jewelry.

Our crucible is living in the world where bankruptcy, divorce, accidents, unplanned pregnancy, violence, cancer, and heart attacks assail Christ followers along with everyone else. And we live in and through those circumstances without complaint, smiling through our tears because we know Jesus said to expect all this trouble. (John 16:33)

Jesus says, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Luke 9:23) “Jesus would say to us, ‘Get a life. Mix it up. Put yourself in the company of the needy. Keep your eyes peeled for widows. Don’t divert your eyes from the lame. Pay attention to them. Let’s not make ministry into a mystery. Get in the game. Just do it!’” (Webster in Text Messaging, p 123.)

We learn to resist the expectation that following Jesus will be safe and comfortable and confidently live with the assurance that God will be us. “Don’t let your hearts be troubled.” (John 14:1) Our hearts are not anxious even though our circumstances might include pain, loneliness, frustration and conflict.

We have hope. That assurance allows us to fully embrace this life while we anticipate eternity. Hope – which gives us the courage to leave the crib and live in the crucible.

The vitality of our Christianity is proven in the crucible of living in such a way that we choose to be uncomfortable, unknown, and unpretentious. Instead, we fully embrace living outside the crib so that others, who are already experiencing the crucible, will see Christ in us.

“Father in Heaven, I pray for confident strength to move from the crib I find so comforting and safe to the crucible where I can learn to be like Jesus. Amen.”

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