On Christmas Day, long after the presents had been opened and tossed aside, Grandma gathered the family into a circle, twenty of us in all. She then announced we were going to try something new. Our eyes fell upon the little brown basket nestled inside the crook of her arm, and mindless crowd chatter came to a halt.
“These are called Angel Cards,” she said cheerfully. “Every card has a different word, and each one of you will pick a card and describe what your chosen word means to you.”
Grandma shook her little basket, while the rest of us sat perfectly still. No one was excited about this. Or at least, I wasn’t. Since these words could not be drawn ahead of time, responses would have to be presented on the spot. If given the choice, I would have opted to get a root canal, rather than play along.
A college-aged niece volunteered to go first. I remember her giggling her way through, but I can’t remember her word. I had been too busy freaking out to pay attention. Sweat dripped down my back as the little brown basket crept around the room, drawing closer to me with each passing second.
Numberless drops of sweat later, the basket was passed to my pale-faced son.
He reached for his word.
“Peace,” he said with a smirk, and as if by magic, his fourteen-year old brain whipped out a response. “There is no peace in this world. So we should all work toward more peace.”
He capped off his answer with a fist pump, which is what sold it in my book. I was proud of my son for scraping through but alas, my turn had come. I had no choice but to select a card.
When I saw that my word was depth, a smile spread across my face. The answer was easy. I had accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior late in life, but from the moment I found Him, my heart never ceased to bubble over with life. I was on fire for the Lord, and effervescent with joy in Him. In my mind, nothing could define depth more clearly than Jesus.
Imagine my disappointment when I opened my lips to speak of my Savior, and my voice fell out flat.
My eyes flashed to the ceiling, but the answer wasn’t there. Why on earth was I holding back?
“As I’ve gotten older,” I stumbled on. “Um, well, depth has become more important to me.”
Good gracious, woman! Nearly five years of writing, of learning to shape words and phrases into intelligible expressions—and six years of knowing Jesus—and that’s all you can say about depth? Mention Jesus. Just say his name. It’s Christmas Day, for crying out loud. What else could come close to defining depth?
“Um…you know, with like with television, and books, and stuff.”
And stuff? Seriously?
My heart sank with my words. As the silence grew thicker, I noticed a number of faces wincing.
I considered a fist pump, but the timing was off. Too much awkward space had passed.
“Well,” I said, throwing my hands up. “If I had about an hour to write my response out, I could make it sound a whole lot better.”
The crowd exploded with laughter, which was a relief because I was trying to be funny. I wanted to create a diversion, so I could escape the fumbling abyss. With the crowd still chuckling, I was able to gracefully pass the basket on to the next victim, my twelve-year-old daughter.
Her word was, willing.
“To do something that maybe you don’t really feel comfortable doing,” she said simply.
The basket moved on, and I mourned my lost opportunity. My mind raced with the words and phrases I still wish I had said.
That depth is God’s Word, which soaks through my five senses and awakens my soul. Depth is found with the One who makes me quiver to the bone when the things of this world merely bounce off my flesh. Depth is hope, bursting with life. It is stepping out in faith in the midst of sorrow and loss. It is divine love, and eternal life. Depth is Jesus. And Jesus is depth. Depth is praying for the Lord to strengthen my conviction, so my thoughts will flow freely, and my words will not fall out flat.
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