December 14, 2012

God with Us

Almost exactly two years ago, I posted this and today it seems fitting to revisit it:

Christmas. Even the word "Christmas" makes us think of cheer, of wonder, of festivities and fun. Yet, for so many it will carry such sorrow, and heavy hearts will sit under lit up trees. There are many reasons that hearts will be heavy each year, but this year I think of the two families I know that between Thanksgiving time and now have each lost a son. One was 12, one just a baby. I can feel the shattering of their hearts into so many little pieces. And, my heart is broken...again.

Sorrow, pain, death, imperfection: our world is so full of it. I sit at a funeral watching a mom look at her 12 year old son's casket, and I remember. I watch the scene that should never be, dad and mom following their lifeless child out of the sanctuary and I know what it is like to go home. It all seems so wrong. The email that the baby won't make it through the night, and he doesn't. And hopes, dreams, lives crumble. These pictures of death happen all over the world, every day. Because our world is fallen, imperfect, not as God intended it to be.

As I sat at that funeral, and watched mom and dad follow their son's casket out, reaching up high behind them were risers in the shape of a giant Christmas tree and it was all lit up. This scene is etched clearly in my mind because as I watched this family and their shattered world, I was reminded. That tree in all its shining wonder reminded me what this season represents. Even as so many will wade through dark waters this Christmas, they do not have to do it without HOPE. God did not turn His back on our imperfect world. He left perfection and entered into our hurt with us. He came to us and brought hope all wrapped up in the form of a tiny baby. "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." He came to us and offers a way to be with him forever, promising that one day he will dry all the tears and heal all the broken hearts. We are not alone, and this life is not all there is. God with us. Hope.

Please pray for these two families and that they could experience the hope of Christ during these difficult times.

Since that Christmas of 2010, we went through another Christmas surrounded by hurting people and now in 2012 this one is no different. Today another unthinkable tragedy has struck out East and everyone is left wondering "Who could do such a thing to children?" And, "How will these familes move forward?" And, "Why did it happen?" And the truth is, there are no easy answers to those difficult questions. And THIS is why we celebrate Christmas. We celebrate to remember - God with us.

If you have placed your trust in Jesus Christ, then all the terrible things taking place should not leave is in fear or disheartened. God tells us over and over and over in His Word not to fear. John 16:33 tells us to take heart because He has overcome the world (and that includes all the evil in it). The hard things should drive us deeper into His Word so we can know more of Him. They should also lead us to tell others of the hope that we have because God not only came to be with us, but make a way for us to be with Him. I Peter 3:15 says to always be ready to give an answer to others about the hope you have.

If you have never placed your trust in Jesus Christ there is no better time than now. He is the only one in whom you will ever find real hope and peace. Check out this link and it will walk you through what Jesus did for you and how you can respond.

December 12, 2012

And They Went With Haste...

"And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger." Luke 2:16

"When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedinly with great joy.  And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him." Matthew 2:10-11

The shepherds got it, the wise men got it, and my kids get it, so why don't I?

Christmas time comes and my kids can't wait to get the nativities out!  It is literally one of their absolute favorite things about decorating for Christmas.  The big man wants to help place each piece carefully on the mantel this year and can't quit talking about how much he loves getting this out every year.  He has all sorts of ideas about how it should be arranged.

Then come the Veggie Tale ones made for play and every kid, no matter the age is down on hands and knees in wonder of those little characters even though they could play with them at any time of the year.

Then there is the box filled with tiny boxes each containing a different part of the scene and I am saving it...for what?  I don't know.  For that one great night when we will sit down and read the story and pull out the pieces as the book tells us to.  Only the night doesn't come, and doesn't come and they beg and plead to break into that see the baby.  And what do I do?  I tell them no again and again...wait...we'll do it later...  Wait for what?  Should we ever wait to get on our hands and knees and wonder at what God did?  Should we ever wait to see the baby again?

They find the box, and are thrilled with the contents, and have it all set up just so.  I discover this, and scold, and miss what the shepherds, and wise men, and my children all know. 

We should ALWAYS go with haste to see the baby again and rejoice with GREAT JOY when we find Him and the hope that He holds.

They do it so well, every year.  They hurry to find Him.  They rejoice at the discovery and they linger long at the scene.  I hurry...but not to find Him.  I rejoice at a great find...but it isn't Him.  I linger long...but on tasks that someday won't matter. 

Tomorrow is a new day and it will start with the opening of a very special box...and there will be great joy...and we will linger long.