Merry Christmas from Oakland! :] The skies are a little paradoxical today — gloomy and radiant at the same time. Grey and bright.
This Christmas season has been rather like that, too. As a hymn writer put it, He whose heart is kind beyond all measure, gives unto each day what He deems best, lovingly its part of pain and pleasure, mingling toil with peace and rest.
This past week, at intervals, I’ve been taking some time to consider the lot He’s given to me and to those I love this Christmas season. Some delicious flowers, some weeds whose purpose I don’t yet understand, and some promising seeds to hide and tuck away until He causes the growth. In other words, joys, painful trials, and glimpses of what He might be doing — just hints, not fully grasped yet.
The seasons for rejoicing and the seasons for weeping seem to come all at once sometimes. Picking up the different pieces of our lives, rejoicing over this one, weeping over that. I’m pretty sure that except for the grace of God, I’d be mentally deranged by now. Sincerely. But this is where redemption happens. I’m slowly, slowly learning that lesson.
God is unfolding His plan of redemption, He isn’t unleashing it in one thunderbolt. He’s telling His story chapter by chapter. And every chapter doesn’t end in a happily ever after; sometimes, we’re left with a cliffhanger. But the story continues, doesn’t it? Sometimes, God’s explanations come very clearly before an event. Sometimes, we only get a dim foreshadowing. And sometimes, the event happens and it isn’t until much later that we understand. Other times, the explanation never comes in our lifetime but comes to those after us. Like in the case of my grandma who prayed for my grandpa’s salvation for years and died of breast cancer almost 40 years before God answered. Who saw His answer in this life? Her children, and most of all, her grandchildren. And it didn’t happen in Walt Disney fashion. It happened with a suicide attempt. It happened with a few years of humiliation and pain in a skilled nursing facility. It happened with the slow and patient unfolding of His Word, week by week, year after year. It happened perfectly in God’s timing, through ugly, unseemly circumstances.
Hasn’t that been God’s way? Redemption coming in the way of a dirty manger. Redemption coming in the way of a criminal’s cross.
And doesn’t He still work that way? Even in the things of our life that we can’t unravel and expound yet?
But we have the benefit of knowing His character. We have records of ways that He’s worked in the past. Amid the grey, there is a brightness — not always right before our eyes, but through the real sight of faith. There is a Redeemer.
That’s this Christmas for our family of three (one still in the womb) and those we love. Great pain at times. But greater joy.
So it’s a beautiful thing to ponder on the birth of Jesus, our Redeemer. It’s a beautiful thing to consider that the Savior came in such an unlikely way, born to “nobodies” and laid in the feeding trough of animals. He came into a real world of smiles and tears and not-yets. And He’s working in time, like a master Storyteller, for His bright glory and our bright good.
He knows all about how to work in the dark and in the grey.
Merry Christmas, friends. :] ♥