Friday, December 27, 2013

Now What?

So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:
They kill us in cold blood because they hate you.
We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.
None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.
~ Romans 8:31-39, MSG ~

It's the phrase that every decent parent dreads on Christmas Day after all of the presents have been opened and pretty papers litter the floor:  "Now what?  Is this all there is?"  Yet, something sinfully instinctual deep in our adult core whispers those same dangerous questions right along with the children.  Christmas has come and gone.  Despite how we have focused on just surviving -- Trying to stay out of the hospital -- Trying to manage all the complicated nuances around our child's diagnosis.  Merely trying to financially afford this holiday has been tough.  Oh, if we can just make it to Christmas! 

We've spent weeks, sometimes even months preparing for the crescendo of this day...  And it's over.  And our hearts can still wrestle with a deep unrest and sense of dissatisfaction that we thought all of the "stuff" of Christmas would assuage.  We thought Christmas might bring peace, contentment, or even relief that it is over.  Yet there is still that empty, disturbed space inside of us.

So where do we go from here?  What do we have to look forward to now that Christmas is over?  How do we face the rest of this long, cold, dark winter with joy?

After all, these months are not always a friend to those with mobility issues.  Have you ever tried to maneuver a wheelchair or walker in snow?  Isolation can insufferably flood into the empty space left after the speedy departure of the holidays.  And if it isn't a mobility issue, it is that non-stop child who wants us to spend hours out in the freezing weather playing when we just want to nestle.  Now comes the time where we bump into one another with a cabin fever crankiness that has no twinkling lights or magical expectations lifting us out.
Christmas is gone!  What let down!  What emptiness!

But we shouldn't be empty.  We should be transformed because Christmas came, never to leave again.   The holiday season should only mean a fresh start at rekindling the memory of God's faithfulness.  It should be a celebration that He has seen us through another year, even if that year did batter and bully us.  Christmas is the promise, the annual rejoicing as we remember that we are never alone.  He is here seeing us through.  We can face the cold, unrelenting winter ahead with joyful warmth, endurance and confidence, because He has arrived on the scene to fill us up with all we need for the days ahead.

Jesus lived a dynamic, not a static, life.  The Babe humbly born did not remain in a manger, but went forward, fully experiencing the ups and downs of this difficult life.  He understands our trials, our isolation, our pain.  And because He understands, we find hope.  He is not detached from our troubles, but cared enough to leave His perfect glory and go behind enemy lines to live as we do in brokenness.  His birth was just the start of His rescue mission to bring us out of that territory, relieved and rejoicing.

Pause in wonder.  Hang onto the joy and hope Christ has delivered to your door during the holidays.  Don't cast it aside like another opened gift that will remain unused.  Because with Jesus on our side, what can keep us down?

PRAY:  Precious Jesus, you are not a detached God who stands far away from our troubles.  You got down in the mud, rolled up Your sleeves and labored through our suffering alongside us.  You have proved that You are a God who cares and can be trusted.  Let our family cling to this amazing confidence and carry Christmas in our hearts throughout the year ahead.

~ Barb Dittrich

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