I have always been particularly fond of Christmas. My faith teaches me of the significance of this day which is second only to Easter in which the power of the Babe born in those deplorable conditions all those years ago was fully accomplished. I like it because people talk about families. They are more open to talk about their own faith but I suppose most of all I like it because people spend a good deal of time thinking and doing things for others. This is of course, against our natural tendencies, but we’re especially motivated to do something for family or better yet, to do something to help a complete stranger and in some cases, we prefer to remain anonymous in doing so. Churches are generally packed and with few exceptions, people know why it is we pause and reflect on who He is and what He has done. It’s a beautiful time of year not just for Christians, but for the world which is, after all, the scope of His mission. Jesus came to save the whole world, not Americans, not just the faithful (although that is how it works), but He came “to give His life a ransom for many.” (Matt 20:28) Yes – for certain, Christmas is a bright, wonderful and warm season in an otherwise dark, cold and selfish world.
Yet I find this year there’s a new side of Christmas that I’ve never seen before. I’ve seen it portrayed in movies. Heard about it in the songs that some artist’s sing but as with so many things, you cannot fully understand until you’ve had the privilege to go through. This side of Christmas I’m referring to is best summed up in one word. Devastating. That’s a powerful word and as I look back on 2012, I can see so much of the carnage that it has left behind in the wake of life. There’s so much emotion that by the end of the day, I’m physically spent. It’s exhausting.
This is truly the reason why Leann and I chose 2 Cor 9:15 as the Scripture to put on our Christmas card this year. “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” This word, indescribable, occurs only one time in the Scriptures and to the best of my knowledge; the exact meaning of the word is still a bit of a mystery. Most translations use the same word, indescribable, which is an odd way to translate a word that is a little unknown. The root of the word gives the idea of the ineffability, or a wonder beyond description of the gift. (Ryrie) There is so much to life that is indescribable.
The weight of the season really didn’t start to crush upon me until Saturday. I got to see a mother of new multiples that are still in the womb glow as she shared pictures of her babies that most mom’s would never dream of possessing. I’m elated to be able to share in their story. That night we went to the ballet and while I’m certain that the performance was phenomenal, I was fully lost in thought about Kyleigh. I never know where I’ll be or what I’ll be doing that will send my head spinning, but that’s what really got the ball rolling.
Next up was Sunday morning. Leann crafted stockings for the five of us this year and we finally decided what to put in Kyleigh’s as we really didn’t want to find it empty on Christmas morning. We resolved to buy socks, so before church, I ran to Wal-Mart (arg!) and found a dozen pairs. That’s the first time I’ve shopped for girls stuff aside from the take-home outfits we’ve purchased through the years. That was like a stab in the gut, but we do it and move on. This morning I purchased fresh flowers that we will take to Kyleigh’s cemetery tomorrow, on Christmas day, an unthinkable tradition that starts this year and ends for me when I’m called home. Tonight we watched a talking dog Christmas movie with the boys that centered on a family whose mother passed away in the fall and they were trying to be happy again for Christmas. In Disneyland I suppose three months is long enough for someone to feel sad. Too bad life isn’t spent entirely in Disneyland.
So back to the gift. Paul writes in 2 Cor 9:13 that it’s the “gospel of Christ” that is the indescribable gift. Gospel simply means “good news.” To me there is more to the Gospel then to focus all of the attention on the aspect of Salvation as there is more to life than our eternal destination. I choose to see this as everything that Christ has done (and will do) in, through and for me. My gift is so beyond my comprehension, but it’s worthwhile to pause and think of a few:
My wife, my partner, my helper, my best friend, she is so much of my gift.
My boys, both Oliver and Garrison as they embrace life and the season and I can see in their eyes the wonder and magic of it all.
My daughter, Kyleigh, for whom my love continues to grow daily. Although I cannot hold her, I know this time of our separation is short and we’ll be reunited soon.
My God, the Author of life, my Savior, Substitute, King and Friend. It’s for Him I choose to live, to Him deserves the credit, honor and glory.
I’m thankful for this new dimension of Christmas that not all are chosen to experience and understand. Sure, I’d rather my story was different but that’s not a choice that I get to make. What I can choose however, is how I respond to it.
Love what you said at the end. How we respond to circumstances that are out of our control is one of the greatest life lessons I’ve learned. My reaction is the only thing I can control, nothing else. Merry Christmas. Love you!