Today I had to clear the driveway. Here in Minnesota we had a bit of a snowstorm on Wednesday the 23rd. I had cleared the big snow with the snow blower that night, but I had some extra snow to clear and I let it wait until today. I shoveled the snow, moving a bit at a time and I became winded. Clearing the driveway is hard work. I kept clearing as I thought of a night a few months after Mark and I got married. It was a very windy night and the snow was still falling when I got home from work. Mark wasn't home yet so I started the driveway. He pulled into the driveway about 30 minutes later laughing at me. I was covered in snow because no matter where I threw it the wind blew it right into my face. He quickly told me to just go grab some dinner and he would finish the driveway. Clearing the driveway was not my chore, he always did it, every snowfall. No matter the amount of snow I knew it was something I wouldn't have to worry about, If 12 inches of snow fell overnight I would still be able to back my little car out of the driveway in the morning.
As I stood there in my driveway today knowing I only had to clear about half of the driveway I thought of my husband. He was not in perfect physical condition, but he didn't get winded shoveling the driveway, he was strong. Mark was so strong. I remember the first time I realized how strong, I watched him carry two five gallon buckets of paint up 3 flights of stairs. I recall so many times noticing his wide shoulders, his sculpted forearms. This man could pick me up and throw me over his shoulder like it was nothing, he could carry the most giant box of books down three flights of stairs from my attic room, and he could shovel the entire driveway without getting winded. It is still hard to believe that Mark, as strong as he was, could not be here on earth with me. Yet, part of me is so thankful that he died just as strong as the day I met him. I am so grateful that he didn't waste away laying in a hospital bed for 8 weeks, grateful that his pride didn't have to take the hit of being re-taught how to eat and how to walk. I don't know how Mark would have handled the possibility of permanent disability, or the inability to work. I don't know what it would have done to him or our marriage. I know that I would have tried to be as strong as was necessary to carry whatever load Mark living would have meant. Instead I have to be strong enough to carry the load of what it means that Mark died. Today that load was not easy to carry, I shoveled the driveway, I washed the dishes, I cleaned up the wrapping paper, and I also yelled and cried and missed sharing Christmas with my husband. Thankfully for me, Christmas doesn't just mean presents and good food, it means so much more. Christmas means that Jesus Christ came to earth to be with me, to sit with me, to comfort me, to save me, to teach me, and to strengthen me. I will never be as physically strong as Mark, I won't win the arm wrestling contests, and I won't flaunt a 22 inch bicep, but I will carry the load I have been given. I will carry the load only with the strength Christ bestows upon me.
Merry Christmas! I pray that we all take the time to appreciate the significance of Jesus Christ coming to earth to die for our sins, but also to have a personal relationship with each of us.
Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.”
2 Corinthians 12:8-10 "Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."