My favorite part of the holiday season is our Christmas eve service at church. It always encompasses (of course) the true meaning of Christmas & for me gives me confirmation that I'm on the right path. This year's perspective was a 'White Christmas' which brings to mind Bing Crosby's rendition of the old Irving Berlin song. But it was so much more than just a song. A video was played prior to the service that put it so well...click here to see it....I assure you, it's worth the 3 minutes of your time. I know I will never feel the same again when I hear it.
The day prior to leaving for church was not in my usual joyful anticipation for the evening. We were to get bad weather that night & I had great misgivings about my elderly father being on the road in it. (just 3 days prior he'd already had an encounter with a guard rail up close and personal on bad roads) And we were waiting for test results regarding a potentially severe health issue with my mom..They told me I'd probably have the message waiting for me when I got home.
With a heavy heart I went to church although I no longer really felt like going. I knew it was the best place for me and I wasn't disappointed. I only shared my worries with a select few because I knew they'd sense something was wrong. My pastor prayed with me & a true sense of calm came over me. I felt God embracing me as I tried to compose myself.
As I write this, at this very moment, something else has hit me....I have been on a journey of JOY this year....choosing JOY (the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be all right, and the determined choice to praise God in all things.) even in the moments that are the least 'joyful'. And as this year is coming to close perhaps Satan felt he needed to try one more time to make me choose something different. Maybe he thought the night of celebrating Jesus' birth would be the perfect time to bring me down and a big 'coup' for him.
Upon our return, there were no messages except that my dad had gotten home ok..much to my relief....but no news about my mom...so I would have another night of wondering. My poor hubby had to go straight to bed, because he still had to go to work the next day.
Hoping for something more to ease my heart, I opened the couple little gifts from our daughter, son-in-law & granddaughters...the first was a recordable book of a Charlie Brown Christmas (one of my favs)...just hearing the girls' voices made the tears come. As I picked up the next gift I could hear little jingles that told me the content was in pieces & it shouldn't be. Inside was a little tealight holder that one granddaughter had bought because "Oma needs this! " (we have a family tradition of eating by candlelight when we're together)...seeing this in broken pieces made me cry harder.....the last gift wasn't all that big. As I looked at it closer though it was obvious that one of the little girls had wrapped it...And as I looked at it, I wondered to myself what about this has me so mesmirized? It was small, it wasn't perfectly wrapped with all the tape and the bow on top...well it was a little loose & kind of smooshed. But I thought about the little hands that had done it all with love & it was perfect. Ok, so that made me cry too! ... I couldn't even bring myself to rip the paper off. I just opened one end of it & let the peppermint foot lotion fall out. Call me a fool but it helps me to have these visual reminders...so I put that wrapping in my Smash journal!
I spent the next couple hours listening to the classic It's a Wonderful Life on tv, as I sat piecing together & gluing the 14 pieces of what was to be my tealight.
During that time it was further impressed upon me that there are gifts that come to us, which by the naked eye look less than perfect, or small or broken and yet when touched by a child's hand makes it the most perfect & cherished gift of all.
Isn't that what Jesus did too? He didn't come in a fancy or showy way but he came in love. He's the only one that can wash away our imperfectness til we are as clean as the first snow....and he can put us back together just like a broken tealight so that our cracks hardly show.
As challenging as it sometimes can be, I want to choose JOY even when I'm not sure how it's wrapped. :) What about you?