Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Do You See What I See?

Lights have been twinkling on both sides of my street at night.

The UPS truck has made multiple appearances each day.

The stores have been crowded, but the shelves have been picked nearly bare.

Wreaths grace every door.

Perfectly, and imperfectly, decorated trees brighten rooms in almost every home.

Presents spill out from under those trees.

Stockings, once hanging straight and picture-worthy, are now starting to twist slightly, and they are bulging in the center, and no one can use the fireplace because the stocking contents will melt.

Travelers are weary from trips, long or short, to see family.

Christmas Day is upon us.



I drink in this time of year like the holiday flavored lattes from Starbucks.

I recognize that it becomes more commercial every year...but I don't really see that.

I smile every time my eyes rest on my decorations, or those of others.

I jump up and down like a kid when snowflakes fall.

I get excited about cooking for parties.

I love seeing the presents under my tree.



I SEE Christmas present, but I also see Christmas past.

I see a weary woman traveling beside her husband.

I see the miles stretching out in front of them.

I see the urgency on their faces, and the lines of fatigue and the hollowed cheeks. I see the pain of the past year still haunting their eyes. The names they have been called. The invitations they haven't received. The struggle to make ends meet. The difficulty of sharing a life, a name, a home, without being truly intimate. The awe of watching a miracle grow inside her, and the fear that accompanies it.

Their faces may not show that they know Egypt is coming soon, or, before Egypt, a birth in a stable, or after Egypt...so much more. I may not see the memories of a star, and foreign kings bearing gifts, and angels singing in the night sky, but I see in their faces the knowledge that something is coming. Something that has already changed them forever.

They've been living lives altered completely by what hasn't even happened yet. So they KNOW that when it happens, nothing will ever be the same.

I see her hold her stomach, cradling the miracle, protecting the blessing that came with its own heart ache, the way it seems all miracles and blessings do. And when I look at her, and him, I see all that is yet to come.



Do you see what I see?

I see Some One who will quake across time and space and creation, burning up the centuries of hopelessness with His arrival.

I see love in its most helpless and most powerful form.

I see sweat, and blood, and tears, and pain.

I see laughter, and happiness, and relief, and peace.

I see a tiny little baby, a life so precarious and delicate, so dependent on the love of those around Him.

I see the Strong Mighty Yahweh, stretching out His hands as an offering for all of mankind.

I see the lowliest of workers, told by heaven's trumpeting host, to come worship Him.

I see the richest kings, bearing gifts, bowing down to a child without an earthly penny to His name.

I see what He has done. The sacrifices made, and those that will soon follow.

I see the Love that WOULD NOT sit by and suffer the absence of fellowship, but stepped into the confusing, messy, painful, lonely, anxious world and said...

"ENOUGH. I am making all things new again."

I see tiny little baby hands, and when I do, I also see the nail scars.

Christmas isn't just about His birth.

It's about everything that came before, and everything that comes after.

It's the striving, and uncertainty, and fear, and loss, and pain, and worry, and hurt, and death, and longing, and waiting...those are all there in the Christmas story, and in our story.

Do you see them? Of course you do.

Now look at them through the eyes of the Baby.

And really, truly SEE the Christmas story.

Redemption. Grace. Peace. Hope. Mercy. Love. Strength. Faithfulness. Protection. JOY.

My heart jumps every time.

Because the story of His birth is really the story of OURS.

He came to DIE.

So I could LIVE.

I look at the manger, and I see the cross.



I look into the eyes of the Son of God, and I see that He left His heavenly home...but I also see that, by leaving, He opened His home to US.

I see my sister there, rejoicing, singing, laughing, dancing, playing...I see so many faces that I love, and miss, and long to touch again.

I look at Bethlehem. But I see heaven.

And an empty grave.

And a defeated foe.



When Satan looked at the manger, he probably thought there had been a mistake. He was a bit leery, sure, but not too awfully worried. God had messed up. Satan was still on top.

And he certainly felt victorious at the cross.

And the people- the man and the woman who's faces had already shown so much confusion and hurt and worry- their faces were etched in grief, and loss and terror.

HOW COULD THIS BE? All of this, all this time, all for nothing? I wonder if they saw his tiny, perfect hands at the same time as they were gazing upon the bloody nails. Did they see the beginning at the end?

If only they had seen, and maybe they did, that the end really...was the beginning.

Jesus stretched out his hands to grasp his mother's fingers...and to grasp mine. And to make it possible that one day, oh some long-awaited day, I will clasp hands with my loved ones again.

You will have your reunions with those you love. When you see the manger, do you see their faces? I do. Every time.

The coming of the new-born King adds a thrill of hope to the lines etched in the faces of us all.

Do you see what I see?

Monday, December 8, 2014

Truth

You know how you have good seasons in life, where the grass is green and the birds chirp cheerfully and the breeze is warm and the scale says what you want it to say when you step on it and the brownies don't have calories and you never get new zits or gray hairs and you can't stop singing songs about how joyful and happy you life is?

Yeah, this is not one of those seasons in my life.

(Actually, I don't think I've ever had a season where the scale said what I wanted it to say, but the rest of it has been true from time to time. (Well...the brownies probably did have calories, but I choose not to think about that. Ever.))

The weather outside reflects how I feel. Its cold and dreary. The grass is dead and the birds have flown south for the winter. I have new zits and gray hairs every single unfair morning. And I'm fighting a cold, so there isn't much singing of any kind going on in my life.

Poor, poor, pitiful me.

I was chatting with my mom on the phone this morning, and something happened inside me while she was talking. She didn't have to say anything specific. She just speaks, and because she's my mom...I hear her like a daughter hears their mother's words.

And I remembered.

All my life I've watched her run to the Word when she was hurting. And I've seen her sink into the Word when she was afraid. And grief-stricken. And alone. And sad. And confused. And anxious.

I've known, my whole life, where to go when I needed comfort, because its where she always went, and I SAW the way she found breath and strength and hope and shelter there.

Maybe you're having a summer season of life. If you are, I'm glad for you.

But maybe you're in the dead of winter, like me. And if so, I have some summer for us to HEAR!

"Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are being consumed, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary struggles are producing for us a glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes, not on what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." II Corinthians 4:16-18

"Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends. His mercies never cease. Great is His faithfulness. His mercies are new every morning. I say to myself, 'The Lord is my inheritance. Therefore I will hope in Him." Lamentations 3:21-24

"Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things He does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle's." Psalm 103:2-5

"Yahweh! The Lord! The God of compassion and mercy. I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations." Exodus 34:5-7

"You light a lamp for me. The Lord my God lights up my darkness. In your strength I can crush any army; with my God I can scale any wall. God's way is perfect. All the Lord's promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to Him for protection." Psalm 18:28-30

"I will praise Your name for your unfailing love and faithfulness. For Your promises are backed by all the honor of Your name. As soon as I pray, You answer me..." Psalm 138:2-3

"Do not be afraid as you go out to fight...today. Do not lose heart or panic or tremble...for the Lord your God is going with you. He will fight for you...and He will give you victory." Deuteronomy 20:1-4

"Praise the Lord! Praise God our Savior! For each day He carries us in His arms. Our God is a God who saves. The Sovereign Lord rescues us from death." Psalm 68:19-20


There are no other words that give life.

Only His words.

And so I'm doing what my mama taught me today.

I'm sinking deep into my favorite chair, wrapped up in my favorite blanket, with The Words of Life in my lap.

And I'm clinging to the summer He offers. Maybe not around us. But WITHIN us.

It's enough, O hurting heart.

It's life, O desperate soul.

It's breath, dear gasping spirit.

It's hope, dear suffering brothers and sisters.

HOPE.
LIFE.
BREATH.

It's there for us, in His word.

Dive in. Sink deep. Let Him breathe summer into your inmost being.

HEAR. TRUTH.