UNEVEN FOOTING at CHRISTMAS

We’re traversing an unsteady season of life in our family. A journey that requires attention to each step taken. Tender hearts are at risk. The magnitude of the impact of decisions made and actions taken makes the path feel perilous. A step in the wrong direction, a stumble, a misunderstood word can send one’s life careening off a cliff.

Oh, for a level, well-lit pathway.

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Recently I attended a meeting at a lovely venue all decked out for Christmas. From the parking lot it was a glorious sight: massive evergreens festooned with ribbons and garlands that glittered in the morning sun. Friends gathered, and as we crossed the mosaic-floored terrace I tripped on an uneven tile and had to pull my gaze from decorations to the ground.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe entered a grand lobby with glittering lights. Bedecked topiaries dotted the slate floor. The uneven slate floor. Again I had to look away from the surrounding beauty.

Once settled at the table, I relaxed and lifted my eyes, taking in the glowing fireplace, candles, wreaths and colorful packages. And the radiant faces of friends, gathered to enjoy each others’ company, our journeys as writers, and joy celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.

Later I thought about that precarious path and bristled at the fact that to traverse it, I had to keep my eyes glued to the floor ~ missing some delightful scenery. Then the memory of the uneven, perilous path facing our family came roaring back. I realized that I felt cheated by having my life forced into a narrow lane. I was missing opportunities to connect with people, missing out on pleasures and joys. It wasn’t fair. I wanted to pout. Wanted to complain and ask God to fix it.

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And He did.

He reminded me, during this season of Christmas, that …

He is Emmanuel ~ God with Us.

That my path is not precarious. Nor is it devoid of beauty.

The Lord Himself holds my hand. And if I look at Him, the view is more glorious than any beribboned, ornament-laden tree. If I hold tightly, He can keep me from falling … and missing opportunities to connect with others.

The difference is not in my path but in where I choose to look.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I wish you plenty of time and freedom to gaze without limit on a season filled with light to remind you of The Light of the World, God With Us.*

Merry Christmas!

*John 8:12, Matthew 1:23

EMMANUEL ~ God With Us

21-Days-of-Christmas-Cover-medium-150x212Hearing that the Christ child would be called Emmanuel, meaning “God with us”* stirs my heart and boggles my mind every time I read it. With, such an intimate word. To me, that is the Christmas celebration, and exactly what I aimed to convey in the short fiction devotional, “Sculpting a Perfect Gift” which appears in 21 Days of Christmas: Stories that Celebrate God’s Greatest Gift[Planning a give-away next week, so if you like Christmas stories, check back. ] 

To get you in the spirit, here’s a post-from-the-past about another touching Christmas story of God with us.

Each year we spend time in the story “Where Love Is” by Leo Tolstoy. Sometimes we read, but our favorite is to listen to the amazing radio drama version played years ago on the Moody Bible station.  

God tells recently widowed shoemaker Martin that He will visit this day. Listening to it is so rich. We’re impacted by even the sound of the wind blowing when Martin opens his door to assist a child pelted with snowballs. We’re caught up at the crunch of snow as tired street sweeper Ivan walks away, warmed by Martin’s mug of hot tea and pair of gloves.

Martin’s assistance to others passing his window continues, but his disappointment is palpable as the day grows late. He sighs, glancing at the window. “Lord, I thought you were coming today. … I guess it was only a dream. A lonely old man’s dream.”

He opens his Bible and reads from Luke, but his eyelids grow heavy and he slumbers. Suddenly a voice calls his name. He startles, runs to the door, and flings it open.

Darkness stared back. He slammed it. “Acht. Another dream.”

“No, Martin. It is I, your Lord.”

“But, Lord, where were you? I thought you were coming to visit me today.” Martin held his breath. Maybe he should not complain to the Savior.

“But I did come today, Martin. You were a wonderful host. Did you not see me?”

“No, Lord. I did not see you. When did you come?”

“But you fed me, Martin. You warmed me, and you clothed me.”

Martin scratched his head. “Lord, when did I feed you? Or warm or clothe you? I did not see you.”

Then the soft, clear voice said, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”

In his mind, Martin saw the old street sweeper; the sad, young lad; the frightened young mother with the hungry child. And he smiled.

“Thank you, dear Lord, for visiting me today.”

“It was my pleasure, Martin.” *

What are some of your favorite Christmas stories?

[* Note: Section transcribed from the Moody Bible broadcast, but I’m unable to give credit to specific copywriters as MBN can no longer locate information about this radio play. ]

Perhaps 21 Days of Christmas: Stories that Celebrate God’s Greatest Gift will be just the thing to help you get into the Spirit of Christmas this year, or a holiday delight for a loved one.          

*Matthew 1:23