Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Simply, Lowly and Quietly Joyful

We crave the emotionalism of Christmas like a drug. And when it doesn’t come, we buy more, drink more, bake more and eat more, in hopes that sooner or later, if we do all the traditional things, the emotions will genuinely come. But often, the older we get, they never do.

This is my first Christmas where there was altogether no snow, no home-baked goods except for the cupcakes brought over by my neighbor, no focus on presents, and no children (both our kids are far away in two different states). And God in His mercy made it an exceedingly contented Christmas.

I love my kids and being with them at Christmas. I delight in traditional Christmas cookies. And I adore a white Christmas. But this year, knowing I would have none of that, I prayed a simple prayer to God to keep me strong. He not only kept me strong, he cleansed me of the need to have the usual accouterments of Christmas, and gave me His peace (which indeed does truly go beyond comprehending). 

The only thing I can compare it to is the residents of Whoville as they gathered together that Grinch-ransacked Christmas morning: For them, Christmas “came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags.” My Christmas even came without “rare Who-roast beast” (my husband and I grabbed a late dinner of Chow Mein at a small Chinese take out place after driving back from an impromptu snack gathering with extended family on Christmas day).

What freedom to finally be able to sit with God each day of December and just be still in Him! I thank God that no depression or funk befell. I thank God especially for the young couple, friends of ours that we met in seminary, who visited us in our home the weekend before Christmas. I thank God that my husband and I had a quiet, lovely time on Christmas Eve that harkened back to when it was just the two of us. I thank the Lord for His coming into the world and into my husband and mine’s marriage. I thank God for the life that each of my children is living that, although it keeps them away, fulfills them.

Yes, Christmas came without the usual brouhaha, but also without the usual dependence on it. Perhaps that is why it also came without the attendant post-Christmas let down. That is something I didn’t think I would ever experience. Christmas came pretty much as it did in that manger long ago: simply, lowly and quietly joyful. It came, fully embracing the gift and tender blessings of God.

I pray that the peace and contentment God turned Christmas into this year will be the case every year: whether it arrives with all the trimmings or not; whether surrounded by loved ones or not.

I perceive this is what wise, aged believers experience, and not just at Christmas. It is what they have come to know of God and the birth of His Son into their lives.

copyright Barb Harwood

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

“Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” 2 Corinthians 9:15

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