Christmas is my favorite time of year. I love everything about it. The lights, the food, the presents, the surprises, did I mention the food? And my absolute favorite part is the Christmas story itself. Not a year goes by that I don’t go through each book and reread the story of my Savior’s birth and think about the details. It has filled me with an indescribable joy to know that God loved me so much that he sent Christ and that Christ loved me so much that he would come to earth for me. But, I will admit this to you, as the days to his birth celebration have counted down this year I have found it harder to see his light and to remember the good news he brought. That happens sometimes when this world pushes in hard around me, ever reminding me that it is NOT my home. It is in the loss of true friends who have gone on before me, it is in the humble prayers that have yet to be answered, and it is in the human bodies that hurt and ache with illness. I want to experience it, but try as I might I fall short of that scandalous joy I know exists with Christ. Sound Familiar to you? Maybe you aren’t at the bottom of the well, maybe you are. But I can tell you that Heaven knows it’s awfully dark and quiet where I’m sitting right now. I pray over and over for a grace I cannot describe and I just sit in God’s presence and feel him there, strengthening me, empowering me to face the next moment, the next day. Yet, still, no Christmas joy, not like I remember. And I remind myself that regardless of how I feel God remains the same. He is not less today or more tomorrow based on our emotion. The story of his love has not changed, his faith in us is constant, and in the darkness of our lives he is the ever present light. And if we continue to enter his presence and cry out for him, he will answer us. His light will send every dark corner from the recesses of our hearts. If our road is difficult, he will straighten it with his own hand. He will be our guide.
“I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them & make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.” Isaiah 42:16
Did you know he did the same thing on the night of his birth? He became a light for the wise men and shepherds to find him. They didn’t have to wander in the dark; alone, confused, or frustrated. They just had to look up and keep their focus on that one bright star. That one light. And he brought them all the way to his home. They witnessed the beginning of the greatest story ever told. Right there in a barn, y’all, the King of Kings held court for the first time. I’m betting there was some scandalous joy involved that night.
I confess, I don’t have all the answers. I’m no theologian. I won’t argue religion or legalism or denominations; but I will stake my reputation on this. Focus on him because he’s still the light. Follow that light and it will lead you home to him. If your heart is hurting, or empty, or tired, that’s not a problem he’s not familiar with mending. Just stick with him. Hold fast. He’s still the light that will devastate the darkness.
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
P.S. And could you trust me about the scandalous joy… he throws that in for extra measure just because he can, and just because he loves you. Ask for it, then watch for it. Mine are ages 11, 6, and 3…..and counting.