This year I missed it.
You see, every year there comes a moment during the Christmas season when I "get it"...
When everything comes together and a flash of understanding invades my hectic life...
When I meet the Christ of Christmas.
Christ amidst the hustle and bustle, glitter and lights, food and festivities.
Who He is. What His coming meant. Why I am called to celebrate the Incarnation.
It is a gift He has always bestowed on me and one I have come to eagerly anticipate.
But this year it didn't come.
I missed it.
At least that's what I thought.
December 25th and 26th were difficult for me...ask Ted.
Tears and questions were my daily bread...
"What did I do wrong?"
"Was I so busy that I couldn't see Him? Hear Him?"
"Where are you?"
All I felt was lonely...deeply, achingly, lonely.
At times the weight of that loneliness seemed more than I could bear.
"My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?
Why this pain? There is no reason for it...
My mind tells me that I am blessed beyond measure...a loving husband, an adoring family, friends and a church home...
My faith tells You are here...Your Word is true and You have promised to never leave me nor forsake me.
But my heart...oh how it is breaking...and aching...
Why this pain? Why this loneliness at a time when all should be merry and bright?"
And then, like the slow seeping of sunlight through the cracks of drawn blinds,
He invaded my darkness...and I got it.
This was His gift to me this year...
The gift of Loneliness.
That I might feel the pain that others feel during not only this Season, but throughout the whole year...
Those in Christ who are walking through hard times...the loss of a spouse...a child...a loved one...
Those apart from Christ who have no hope and are desperate to fill the emptiness of their hearts and souls...with something...anything...to ease the pain.
This was His gift to me...
That I might feel His pain...
That I might truly embrace the truth that without Him, Christmas and life are empty.
My life long prayer has been that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His suffering...being conformed to His likeness...
And He has faithfully been answering that prayer, slow as I am at times to understand His working.
If I truly want to celebrate Christmas, then I must embrace both the cradle and the cross...
For without both, there is no answer to loneliness.
I am not big on New Year's resolutions, for so often they are triggered and enforced by my strength and my effort...and usually they fade away by February...at the latest.
But this year, I am asking Him for one more gift...
The gift to remember, throughout 2016, what it feels like to be lonely.
And then be given the grace to live my life daily in light of that.
It is a gift I can give to Him...and others...throughout the New Year.
A gift that keeps on giving, and giving, and giving.
Homeless- photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/28832703@N00/82264654">Down and out in Covent Garden</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">(license)</a>
Heart and tinsel- photo credit: <a ref="http://www.flickr.com/photos/19683258@N00/5268255114">Season's Greeting</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">(license)</a>
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