Christmas isn't as I expected this year.
While forecasters warned of the El Nino winter, Southeastern Wisconsin has felt more like spring than anything closely resembling winter. The clouds have held onto the characteristic November gray, confusing as they deluge with rain rather than snow. Winds have gusted like an Easter gale instead of a blinding blizzard.
Unfortunately for my husband, this has meant that he has had to get out in our front garden several times this season, reconstructing the little stable that houses our outdoor nativity scene. Though he anchored the structure, the muddy soil has proven to be no match for the whooshing winds. The sad little stable keeps getting blown over.
It has left Mary, Joseph, and the Baby Jesus looking awkwardly exposed, vulnerable, and unprotected.
This has been a good meditation for me in this year of the unexpected -- considering the un-stable. My elderly mother's health has been failing, leaving my siblings and I walking through each day as a new minefield of crises and challenges. Too much need and too little help with work has left me stretched thread thin. Additional difficulties with our son's health the past four days has left me on edge as well. All of this has me feeling like I am sleeping with one eye open, on high alert waiting for the other shoe to drop.
So many of you also live through Christmas like this.
What draws me in close and anchors me in safety during these times is a Sovereign Savior who can most assuredly identify with my shaken life. Jesus can relate to the rocked and blown-down unstable. He stepped out of the certainty of heaven -- that place we longingly aspire to -- assuming every pain of being an average human like the rest of us. He constrained all of that infinite power and glory into the tiny, tender frame of an infant. He went through the trauma and pain that occurs when we are born into this fallen world. He did so without the usual family and amenities typically present at such an occasion. He was hated, marginalized, and his destruction sought from the minute he drew his first earthly breath.
Yet, those very uncertainties and instabilities all worked for our good and his glory, just as they ALWAYS do for those who love him. (See Romans 8:28) He is the God of the in-spite-of, the even-if. "But GOD," is the Good News of the Bible from start to finish. He redeems the gust-leveled troubles of life, not only in the next life, but HERE... NOW.
This is the JOY to the WORLD we sing of at Christmas each year -- Despite the UNSTABLE, He is an anchor for our soul. People disappoint. Pressures squeeze. Circumstances confuse. Yet, the holy eternal infant hands are enough to catch us, to hold us, and to see us through every turmoil facing us in this world. Chaos and uncertainty MUST yield to Him. And while we may hate the process of enduring and pushing through the parts of life that we would not have chosen for ourselves, we can rest in full trust of our Christ. Because He intimately knows our misery, we can be comforted that He is fully equipped to escort us along the rocky, ankle-twisting, blister-marked paths. This Coach not only cheers us to the finish line, but opens our eyes to miracles and laughter along the grueling route.
This is HOPE. If He had not descended into our breeze-buffeted lives, we would have to persevere through the present miserably, only biding our time until eternity. Our present would hold nothing but bitterness and duty to get us through to the other side.
How thankful I am this Christmas that, no matter the outcome, His presence is better than any of my expectations, plans, or desires.
Praise You, Jesus! You are the GOD OF THE UNSTABLE!
Where would we be without You, Jesus? You are our only hope! Thank You for stepping into our mess and giving it infinite meaning. Remind us to treasure these things in our hearts, especially when we make Christmas about ourselves and our expectations rather than about Your crazy gift of love.
~ Barb Dittrich