Monday, December 5, 2016

Stepping Into My Reality

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You ·protect me with your saving shield [L have given me the shield of your salvation/victory].
    You support me with your right hand.
    ·You have stooped to make [Your help makes] me great.
Psalm 18:35, EXB

The Christmas season has a way of assaulting us parents. Even though we can clearly and predictably see it coming each year, it seems to suddenly pounce with relentless demands, barely letting us come up for air. Perhaps that is why a seasoned parent like myself finds the heart calloused, numb, and even disengaged at the imperative of Advent. The emotional shut-down protects me from all the ways I will fail to meet the requirements confronting me in December.

Thankfully, the "Hound of Heaven," as named by English poet Francis Thompson, doesn't allow a mother like me to stay in her November deadness for very long. In pursuing my duties as a parent to acquaint my children with a very personal Christ, I am forced to carve out time to sit silently and once again page through Ann Voskamp's The Greatest Gift. Her artful words, cited Scripture, and a modern day Jesse Tree quickly usher me into the awe of which this season is worthy.

Beginning at God's creation -- the stunning fact that I was made by Him, for Him, as the object of His affection turns me away from all of the temporal that drowned and numbed me only days ago. I see the profound significance of the nativity to a worn, financially struggling, nearly constantly stressed, and often discouraged mother like me. 

You see, rather than viewing the biblical Christmas story as mere tradition or fantastic fairy tale, I know it is a reality that sets my faith apart from any other world religion. Other figures or creeds extol constant efforts to ascend to better behavior, earn some prize, or a greater level of consciousness. Only in Christianity does God step down into our reality to pull us heavenward.

Considering what a complete mess my life is by the world's standards, that's quite a hopeful thing! He steps down into my chaotic reality to transform my mess into His message. My suffering, my family's suffering has infinite value because He was willing to descend out of the glory of Heaven to suffer alongside us. Since it's clear that no human could ever endure by their own ability all of the loss, heartache, and ruin our family has, our whacky little lives can't help but glorify God and His goodness. He is our hope. Jesus not only took on our flesh, he took on our anguish as well as punishment to guarantee our permanent home in Paradise. There is nothing that we could endure in this life that can take that away.

Advent is a time to marinate on the magnificence of the God who stoops low to make each human person great. Will we allow His innocent fingers to grasp ours and usher is into a greatness that we could never know on our own?

PRAY: Gracious God, thank You for coming to get us by sending Your only Son. We would have no hope without You. Thank You for reminding us that we have the great glory of Heaven to look forward to simply because You stooped low in Your loving mercy.

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