Sunday, December 24, 2017
The Christmas Picture
The twinkling lights. The humming of familiar tunes. The smell of cinnamon and spices. Late nights of wrapping after littles are tucked in. Christmas movies in pj's with snuggles and hot chocolate. Warm embraces of loved ones who live far away.
The things I love about Christmas float through my mind and land gently on my lips in a smile. Oh, there are hard things, too. Loved ones who aren't here anymore. Relationships that have changed. The stress of spending. The need to meet magical expectations.
One of my littles trying to play a game she was given declares, "This isn't how I thought it would be." Neither is most of life I find myself responding. The words jump out of my mouth before I think. But we can't despair. "Keep trying and when you figure it out it will be worth it," I say.
It's in the hard that we wake up. When entertainment and busyness and life lull us to sleep on the inside, the hard sends little shock waves through our spirit that cause us to Look. For more. For the deep. For the real. And the magical moments are a hint that there is more. That heaven is real and happiness that isn't fleeting is possible. We make choices all day long. We can choose to let the good and the hard birth hope.
And focus. On Truth. The One whose life mingled the good and the hard from the very beginning. God himself made a choice. To chase us. Down into a stinky, cold barn where he would lay in a feeding trough peering through bleary eyes and facing the long years of growing up in a poor, displaced carpenter's family. I sit in my silky, Biltmore sheets from Belk and shudder. I would never choose that for myself or my baby. But. Someone. Did. He chose it. He did not run from the hard. Not from the pokey, scratchy straw or the rough splintery wood of the cross. From His first cry to His last, He chose the hard to birth the hope of heaven. In us.
I found it displayed on the outside of the stairs facing into the living room. Propped up against the iron bars just below the velvety stockings hanging from the stair rail. A simple drawing with words misspelled. But it grabbed my heart. A treasure of truth right out from the hand of a six year old. And the letters in red. A quiet gift declaring what we all need to acknowledge this Christmas. It was for us. The hope of heaven. Given from the One. So we could have an eternity of Christmases.