It was only yesterday.
Or a lifetime ago...it's hard to remember now.
At the time it was all too real, and I wondered if I would live through it.
But as you can see, I have.
Like they say, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger." Amen to that.
We were living in southern Mexico at the time, working at a Bible Translation Center.
It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.
But the one time I want to talk about today is a time that comes back to me...
Christmas after Christmas after Christmas.
Probably because I need to be reminded...
I struggled greatly in Mexico.
Not because I didn't believe in our purpose there...
To support the translation of God's Word into the hundreds of Mexico's indigenous languages.
It wasn't because we weren't gifted to do the work we were called to do there...
Ted thrived in his support role of Center Maintenance Director, and I as Center Hostess.
We had been trained. Equipped. And sent.
So what was the problem you ask?
The problem was that I was terribly, overwhelmingly homesick.
We had left behind a farm in upstate New York...
Everything that was familiar.
And had walked into a world where simple communication was a struggle, if not at times impossible...
And everyday acts of daily living were magnified in effort and time.
And nothing was familiar.
I struggled in this environment...oh, how I struggled.
Until the third year, when it all became too much and I fell into a deep depression.
It was Christmas time...the rainy season was long past and the lack of the color green was eating at me...everything was gray and dry...just like my soul.
I had gone out to wander the hills...and I ended up in a dried-up river bed...stumbling and searching for signs of life...a colorful rock...anything.
Tears were pouring down my cheeks as I meandered on and on...my eyes swept from left to right, searching...
But all I could find were pieces of broken pottery...shards and large chunks that had been washed from who-knows-where to line the cracked soil of the river bed.
It was their color that drew me to them...rich blues and greens and reds. Color!
I desperately started collecting them...filling up my hands and pockets...
And as I did, the Holy Spirit began whispering words of healing and refreshment into my dry and dusty heart...
"I know what it is to be homesick.
Didn't I leave My Home in Glory to come to earth?
I, too, left everything...My Family, My Home, all that was near and dear to Me...
Because of you...and all those I love passionately.
You want the Christmases of old...
Familiar traditions, activities, and people.
But my child, what you are experiencing right now is the real meaning of Christmas...
Why I came.
Me coming into this world to bring Hope in the midst of Loneliness. Fear. Depression. Want.
No matter where you are, or what you are going through, or what your Christmas looks like...
Rejoice! You are loved! You are known! I have come! I am your Home!
Live in the Hope that I brought with Me when I came to earth on that first Christmas day so many years ago...
Because I live, you live also."
And that was it. A most glorious Truth I needed to hear...
Then and now...and again and again and again...for every Christmas season to come.
Yesterday I was reminded as I walked my dog down a dusty gravel road...far from Mexico but not much different than the one I traveled many years ago.
And as I walked, I prayed for those who are sick...lonely...mourning...experiencing family heartache.
Dear God, let them know the Hope of Christ in Christmas.Fill them with a sense of your Presence and everlasting Love. Help them to understand they are not missing Christmas in these trials and adversities, but are living it. In the Name of Him Who loved so much that He came...Immanuel...God with us. Amen.
Amen. And Amen.
Merry Christmas, dear ones. You are loved. No matter where you are. Or what you are going through.
How do I know?
Because He came.
riverbed photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/92997382@N00/1185017415">Broken ground</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">(license)</a>