Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Mundane Life

The mundane is boring. And moms face a mountain of the mundane day in and day out. Some days we feel like we are stuck in the movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray.  We are doomed to repeat the same chores, the same meals, the same homework battles 7 days a week.  If there is a light at the end of this tunnel, it is very, very dim.  But we trudge on because that is what moms do. 

But what if there is more to this mundane story?  What if we were to see this teaching, this training, and this endless doing for what it truly is…the building of a strong foundation?  Would our daily schedules seem so mundane?  So boring and ordinary? 

Or would we see them as small things that could become great things in the hands of a great God?

In Zechariah 4, Zechariah is given some visions from the Lord.  The Israelites have returned from Babylon and have begun to rebuild the temple of the Lord.  It will not be as grand as Solomon’s temple, but God has promised to reside there in all His glory.  There is trouble on all sides though.  Those that despise the Lord and His people are stirring up trouble and those that are just never content are questioning why a lesser temple should even be built.  The people are feeling discouraged and distracted.  They have just left a foreign land to return to the land of their ancestors, but for many, this homeland is just as foreign.  Not only are they trying to lay the foundation of the holy temple, but they are attempting to lay the foundation of their lives outside of captivity.  And the day in and day out struggles are beginning to frustrate them and they are forgetting what the end result will be, God dwelling within their midst once again.  God is encouraging the man He has chosen to rebuild the temple, Zerubbabel, to not lose heart. He is promising him that these small things will lead to great things.  (See Haggai 2:20-23; Zech. 4:6-9)

In Zechariah 4:10, God asks, “Who dares to despise the day of small things?”  I just got stuck right there as I read that part of the verse. Apparently, I dare to despise small things all the time.  I get tired of doing the dishes and cooking meals and doing loads of laundry.  But I also get tired of teaching life principles to boys that just don’t seem to want to learn, or do, or grow.  It gets frustrating.  And I feel defeated.  And I want to throw in the towel and run away.

But then God speaks out of the pages of His word and I realize there is more to the mundane than I imagined.  Especially, when I let Him be the owner of my so-called ordinary existence.  Matthew Henry (by far my favorite Bible commentator of all time) puts it like this, “In God’s work the day of small things is not to be despised. Though the instruments be weak and unlikely, God often chooses such, by them to bring about great things.” Trust me, as instruments go, I am weak and unlikely.  But God chose me to be a wife to my husband and a mother to three boys.  I’m laying spiritual foundations that I don’t even know about right now.  Ones that will serve my boys in years (and trials) yet to come. 

And when I treat the mundane things of my life as unimportant or annoying, I despise the work God has given me to do.  Doesn’t mean I can’t delegate the dishes or the laundry, but it does mean this mundane life is the adventure I’m called to right now.  As much as I would like to jet off to exotic locales to further God’s kingdom, He has called me to build foundations in my home in the lives of my children and in my marriage.  And I need to be about my Father’s business much more consistently than I am.  My boys need the firm foundation of Christ because without it they cannot withstand the storms of this life. 

Foundation-building may be boring and ordinary.  The world may see it as mundane and unadventurous. It may be called small and unimportant. But the Bible tells us otherwise.  Christ calls us to use the ordinary to bring Him glory.  Kind of puts the shine on the mundane doesn’t it? 

46 “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? 47 Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: 48 he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.[a] 49 But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”

Luke 6:46-29 (ESV)

See Zechariah 4; Haggai 2: 1-9

Thursday, December 25, 2014

December 25th: Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas
Luke 2
1And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.
 2(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
 3And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
 4And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
 5To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
 6And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
 7And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
 8And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
 9And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
 10And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
 11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
 12And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
 14Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
 15And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
 16And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
 17And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
 18And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
 19But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
 20And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

This story has been told in many different forms over the last two millennia.  It has been shared over the years by storytellers, singers, writers, and movie producers.  But it is the inspired words of Luke, from the King James Version, that tell the story in a way that resounds with my heart and soul.  These are the words that I first heard used to tell the story of my Savior’s birth, the ones that come to mind when I recall the verses that tell of His love for me.  For the world. 

This morning, as we doze on couches and chairs and the children play with toys in a joyful and sleepy daze, reflect on these words.  Let them pour over you and bring you the LoveJoy, Peace and Hope that came to us when God entered our world as a newborn baby. 

This story didn’t end in Luke 2.  The next chapter, but not the final one, took place on a hill outside Jerusalem called Golgotha.  God, who was born into our world as a baby, died as a man on the cross for our sins.  Three days later, when he rose from the grave, He conquered death and rewrote the stories of those that believe in Him. 

Now, just as we anticipate the Christmas season each year, we wait for the “blessed hope” that will arrive when our Savior returns.  He is coming again and o’ what a glorious day that will be!

Come Lord Jesus, Come. 

One day when Heaven was filled with His praises,
One day when sin was as black as could be,
Jesus came forth to be born of a virgin,
Dwelt among men, my Example is He!

Living, He loved me; dying, He saved me;
Buried, He carried my sins far away;
Rising, He justified freely forever;
One day He's coming—O glorious day!

One day they led Him up Calvary's mountain,
One day they nailed Him to die on the tree;
Suffering anguish, despised and rejected:
Bearing our sins, my Redeemer is He!

One day the grave could conceal Him no longer,
One day the stone rolled away from the door;
Then He arose, over death He had conquered;
Now is ascended, my Lord for evermore!

Living, He loved me; dying, He saved me;
Buried, He carried my sins far away;
Rising, He justified freely forever;
One day He's coming—O glorious day!

One day the trumpet will sound for His coming,
One day the skies with His glories will shine;
Wonderful day, my beloved ones bringing;
Glorious Savior, this Jesus is mine!

Living, He loved me; dying, He saved me;
Buried, He carried my sins far away;
Rising, He justified freely forever;
One day He's coming—O glorious day!

O glorious day!

O Glorious Day
~John Wilbur Chapman~

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

December 24th: The Candles of Christmas Eve

"How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty!  My soul yearns, even faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God."  Psalm 84:1-2

"Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere..." Psalm 84: 10

They had me at "pa rum pum pum pum."  I was completely undone by "Silent Night, Holy Night."  I am not sure I could make it through the Christmas chaos without Christmas Eve worship. Actually, I know I couldn't.

It is when I am finally fully present in the celebration of the season.  In the celebration of the birth of our King.  I have been at a full sprint since December 1st and when I screech to a halt in the sanctuary, I always feel as if there is not a lot left of me to give to my Savior.  But when we begin to sing praises to our King, my heart soars and my soul is renewed.  In that moment, for me, it is finally Christmas.

Tonight as we headed to church, we were not much in a worshipful mood, so to speak.  There had been griping, complaining, disobeying, ugly words, and downright meanness in our abode.  As I drove to church, a little voice was whispering to me, "You are being a hypocrite.  Why are you going to church?  You have been yelling at your kids and your Christmas spirit is non-existent.  Stay home and don't go to church with this attitude."  Thankfully, I knew of whence this little voice came from and I drowned it out with holy defiance and some Christmas songs on the radio.  I am so, so glad I did.

As we walked into the church, I could feel that peace I so longed for in the preceding days descend upon me.  I corralled the boys and their candles into the row and sat down with instructions that they were NOT to play with their candles.  Sure.  Whatever.  Might as well should have told them to stop being boys.

The candles are what do it for them each year.  It is fire and they are boys.  It is not about singing "Silent Night" or being mindful of the true reason we sing.  It is about the hot wax, the fire, pinching it out with slightly moistened fingertips, and of course, the fire.  They were mesmerized by the praise bands rendition of "The Little Drummer Boy" but every so often, my youngest would lean over and ask, "Is it time for the candles yet?"

When our pastor stood before the podium with his candle, every child in the room began to fidget in anticipation.  They watched eagerly as the candles were slowly lit at the front of the room and travelled backward.  As our pastor spoke about the Light of Christ coming into the world to dispel the darkness and how we, as Christians, are to bring His light to the world, I noticed something interesting.

Every adult sat perfectly still, held their candle perfectly upright, and sang the words to "Silent Night" in a perfectly reverant manner.  Meanwhile, our children were examining their candles, tipping them side-to-side, touching the hot wax, laughing, smiling and generally beaming from ear to ear.  Honestly, I am not sure what glowed more, the candles or their smiles.  And it dawned on me...like the candle, they experience Christ and His gift of love with anticipation, curiousity, and child-like wonder.  Like the candle, they want to see what makes faith in God work, to know what it feels like to know God, to understand how He changes all things around Him, and they want to experience Him in every way possible.  All the while, we are shushing them, telling them not to burn their brother's shirt, sit up straight, sing the song, and generally trying our darnedest to ruin the moment for them.

When do we lose that child-like wonder?  When do we accept that reverence comes with rules and regulations?  When does being a Christian stop being the best thing that has every happened to us?  And why can't we just let our kids enjoy the moment?  Well, other than the obvious reason that we would rather them not set the hymnals on fire.  I think we are maybe a little jealous.  We have to behave like adults and worship like adults.  Right?

Oh, to revel in the freedom of a child again.  Maybe this year, we can all capture a little bit of their wonder and awe.  Maybe His light will shine through us too, not just our kids.  Each year, my Christmas is redeemed by Christmas Eve worship.  Obviously, I need to figure out how to enter into His presence a little earlier in the season.  But right now, this year, I am so very thankful that I entered into His presence with all my mess and let Him meet me right where I was...and He calmed my stormed and brought me the peace only He can give.

May His peace and joy descend on you and yours today.  May His gift of eternal life be the center of your celebrations today and in the year to come.  May mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance...(Jude 2).

Merry Christmas!!  

December 23rd: Love Came Down

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”  1 John 4:10

The world tends to emphasize the kinder and gentler side of humanity at this time of year.  Cards are sent proclaiming love, joy and peace to all of our loved ones and friends, maybe even to a few people we just tolerate.  We are encouraged (or brainwashed) to buy and buy and buy for those we “love.”  The more money we spend the more we love them.  It is no wonder that this time of year is so stinking stressful.  We all want to be loved and we all want others to know how much we love them, but the world makes it harder (and more expensive) to show that love every year. 

But the Love that came down to us and dwelt among us that very first Christmas does not abide by the world’s standards. We cannot buy His love.  We cannot even earn it.  All we can do is except it.  It is simply a gift. 

The definition of love give by John is that God loved us first.  Then He showed us how much He loved us by sending His son, not just to live with us and show us how to live together nicely, but to die for us.  To be a cleansing sacrifice for our sinful selves, that is how he showed us love.  No gift cards.  No expensive electronics.  Just His life for ours. 

That is what real love looks like. 

So how do we show real love to others?  Ah, there is the question of the hour.  It is so much easier to buy a nice sweater or a pair of socks that just scream, “well, I like you a lot,” than to truly show love for another. 

“We love because he first loved us.  If anyone says, “I love God, yet hates his brother, he is a liar.  For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.  And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”  1 John 4:19-21

Well, shoot.  We have to be nice to people and mean it.  And just in case you were wondering, "brothers" is kind of a general term that applies to just about everyone else, not just your sibling.  So you are not off the hook if you happen to just have sisters.  You have to love them too.  And your neighbors.  Just saying we love God then griping at the cashier at the grocery store because she can’t find the price on the produce, being rude to the person on the other end of the phone that drew the short straw and has to deal with us when we are at are crankiest, or yelling at our kids with such venom we almost lose our voice, apparently won’t cut it anymore.  Not when we claim to be a Christian anyway.

If we truly love God, and that means that we are living our lives according to Deuteronomy 6:4-5, then we are showing love to others.  We are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, all our soul, and all our strength.  Once again, easier said than done.  But when we focus on living our lives according to God’s word, we cannot help but treat people as God would treat them.  Simply put, we love God by loving others.  If we put all we are into truly loving God, the way that looks to others is that we truly love them too. 

We can proclaim our Christianity to the ends of the earth, but if our faith is without works, we might as well keep our mouths shut.  If our actions do not back up our words, we lose all credibility with the world.  That doesn’t mean we have to do a whole bunch of “Christian” stuff to look good, we just have to live our lives in such a way that we do not bring disgrace to our heavenly Father.  Seriously people, don’t go to the mall with all of you Christian paraphernalia on, and then cuss at the person who cuts in front of you in line.  And don’t put all those lovely Christian bumper stickers on your car if you are going to be giving people the one-finger wave on a regular basis.  And for good measure, don’t gossip about your Bible study leader, cheat on your spouse or your taxes, speak rudely to your child’s teacher, or call those that express a contrary opinion to yours ugly names. 

Playing nice with others and truly caring about them is not for the faint of heart.  It is hard work that requires a firm foundation in knowledge of the One that loved us first.  Open your Bibles and get to know Him because the more you know Him the more you can emulate Him, and the more He can love others through us.  

So this weekend, while you are entrenched up to your ears with family, the ones you love and the ones you tolerate, spread some love.  Don’t expect to be served, serve others.  Don’t expect to receive, give of yourself.  Listen rather than expecting to be heard.    We didn't deserve His love and He gave it freely.  The least we can do is not be stingy with His incredible gift.  The best way we can honor His birth and thus His sacrifice is to share His love with those around us with a smile, a word of praise, a pat on the back or a door held open.  And we can do it all year long, not just in December.

Simple gestures of respect.  Simple gestures of love. 

There's a wideness in God's mercy
I cannot find in my own
And He keeps His fire burning
To melt this heart of stone
Keeps me aching with a yearning
Keeps me glad to have been caught
In the reckless raging fury
That they call the love of God

Now I've seen no band of angels
But I've heard the soldiers' songs
Love hangs over them like a banner
Love within them leads them on
To the battle on the journey
And it's never gonna stop
Ever widening their mercies
And the fury of His love

Oh the love of God
And oh the love of God
The love of God

Joy and sorrow are this ocean
And in their every ebb and flow
Now the Lord a door has opened
That all Hell could never close
Here I'm tested and made worthy
Tossed about but lifted up
In the reckless raging fury
That they call the love of God

The Love of God
~Rich Mullins~

Monday, December 22, 2014

December 22nd: Strings in the Tapestry

“Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.”  Luke 2:38

The story of Anna the prophetess is kind of short on helpful details.  It is obvious that a man was telling this story.  As a woman, I have so many questions about her that go unanswered.  How old was she when she got married?  How did her husband die?  Did she die when she was 84 years old or did she get remarried?  I mean, Luke really left us hanging here with a sentence that could imply that she either died at the age of 84, or she got remarried.  What drew her to stay at the temple?  Did she lose her home or did she just want to live at the temple?  Did she have any children, and if so did they take care of her?

If a woman had written the story of Anna, we would have known not only how old she was when she married and when she became a widow (we would go ahead a do the math so as not to tax the mathematically-challenged amongst us), but what she wore to both her wedding and her husband’s wake.  If she had in fact died at age 84, we would have stated that as to not cause unnecessary confusion.  If she had got remarried, you can bet your sweet bippy we would have shared the details of her second chance at love.  How did she meet him?  Was he a man of God?  Details.  We would have given a plethora of details.  We would know exactly where she stayed in the temple and how her room was decorated.  We would have shared if her kids had taken care of her in her waning years or if they thought she was looney-tunes for living her life in the temple. 

Yes, we would have known a lot more about Anna if we would have told the story, but we might have gotten lost in the details of Anna’s life, her trials and her tribulations.  And we very easily could have overlooked the one chapter in her life that was the most important while we dissected the details.  Maybe, just maybe, Luke was making sure we focused on the most important part of her story. 

The part where she is right where God wants her so that she can be part of His story and He becomes a part of hers.

The best part in the whole story is where Luke states that Anna came “up to them at that very moment.”  There are no coincidences with God.  Ever.  Nothing just happens.  He places us where He wants us so that He can become part of our story.  We may make decisions that take us down different and difficult paths.  Because of the actions of others, we may travel down a path we never had any intention of taking.  And because we live in a fallen and sinful world, bad things will happen and we will have sufferings.  But God’s story for us is filled with hope and a future with Him. (Jeremiah 29:11)  His purpose for our lives will be fulfilled no matter what happens be it good or bad, and somehow, someway He will work it for our good. (Romans 8:28)

Does that mean when we suffer we will see the good right away?  Maybe, but most likely not.  We will get lost in the details of our pain and suffering and He will meet us right there in the middle of those messy details. But when we can finally see past some of the details that keep us weighed down in our pain, sadness, anger or bitterness, He will begin to show us how His story for us is unfolding.  And we might just get a glimpse of how He is working it for our good. 

Anna lost her husband just 7 years into her marriage.  We don’t know if she had a great marriage or one that she endured, but we do know that being a widow at that time in history was no walk in the park.  Again and again, the Bible encourages us to care for the widows and the orphans, because they had no one else to do it.  (James 1:27)  They did not have an easy road in Jesus’ time.  And it appears that Anna was a widow until she was 84 years old.  At the time of Christ’s birth, Anna the widow was living in the temple where she worshipped God every day through fasting and prayer. We don't know why she was living there, just that she was.  Somehow her widowhood and the road she travelled because of it, put her in the temple on the day Christ was brought in by Mary and Joseph.

Whatever her reasons for living in the temple, she was drawn closer to God because of those reasons and her location.  And because she was right where God wanted her to be, though her pathway there may have been filled with pain and grief and who knows what else, in that very moment she was able to be in her God’s presence.  Did her story come into focus in that moment?  We don’t know.  But her story became intertwined with His in that very moment, and she was able to share His story with others that were caught up in the details of everyday life, but who were wondering how their story would be redeemed.  Because she witnessed the Christ child, she not only got a glimpse of how her story would be redeemed, but also Israel's story.  

Our stories, like Anna’s, are filled with unanswered questions and sufferings we just cannot understand.  We don’t know why someone’s husband dies unexpectedly, or why a friend suffers horrible injuries in a car accident, or why children suffer abuse, or a parent has to endure the loss of a child.  We may get glimpses of God’s story as the years go by though if we look past the messy details and see how God is redeeming their stories as only He can.  A dear friend of mine lost a sweet precious little girl, and she described that loss as one of the many threads running through the tapestry of their lives. We can only see the mess of threads, but God sees the beautiful picture on the other side of the tapestry.  One day we will see it too.  

We may witness the widow speaking words of comfort to the young mother who just lost her husband in a faraway war.  Someone may come to know Christ’s ultimate healing because of the miracles witnessed in the physical healing of another, or even through the faith of those praying for healing of a loved one.  The evil of this world offers us the chance to be the hands and feet of Christ to those that so desperately need His arms to hold them.  And parents that have lost a child, may in that very moment as they walk that same horrible valley of death with another grieving parent, see Christ cover them both in the shadow of His wings. 

Christ came to redeem our stories.  Anna was ready and waiting for Him.  Are we?  It doesn’t matter if the details of our lives are good, bad, or ugly.  He can and will use those details to bring us closer to Him and in the process show us that He is truly the author and perfecter of our faith.  (Hebrews 12:2)  

We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love is way too much to give us lesser things

'Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if the thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
And all the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we'd have faith to believe

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know the pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home

~Laura Story~

December 21st: She Made Room

"The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel-which means, "God with us."  Matthew 1:23

As the sky grew dark and the ground began to quake, she was unable to turn away from the sight before her and the memories that were flooding her heart. Her tears were soaking the cloak that she couldn’t seem to wrap tightly enough around herself. In her fear and grief, she closed her eyes and traveled back in time to that night. The night she witnessed his birth.

She had to get out of the house. The sounds and smells of so many bodies crammed into one room was simply overwhelming her. She quietly shut the door behind her as she slid down and came to rest on the steps. The cool, fresh air poured over her and a deep sigh rose from the depths of her soul. She rested her head on her arms and cried out in desperation to the God of Israel. Did He even hear her? Did He even care? She wanted her life to be normal again, but what did that even mean? Two months ago she was happily married with a baby on the way. Now, she was a pregnant widow who was renting her home out to weary travelers from hither and yon. Her soul was broken and she had no idea if the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob even knew she existed.

“Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”
Luke 1:45

She knew He existed. Somehow the babe inside her promised that He was still there, but maybe He had just forgotten about her. For some reason, the promises in King David’s Psalms were not bringing her comfort. She needed to feel God’s presence. She needed to know He was with her still. Her grief still overwhelmed her and the presence of so many in her home did not ease her pain. It brought her distractions, but not peace. Oh how she longed for a peaceful stillness in her soul.

She lifted her head and looked into the night sky. There was no hint of a moon, but the stars were simply brilliant. She gasped at their numbers and their beauty. There was a stirring within her, just a hint of something to come, but for now she rested in the confirmation that the Creator of the universe had indeed made the stars hanging above her. Maybe, just maybe He wasn’t so far away.

“Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.”
Isaiah 40:26

As her eyes began to grow heavy, she heard the sounds of travelers coming up the road. Honestly, she would be so glad when the census was over and life could return to…well whatever it would return to, since normal was no longer an option. She stood and shook out her cloak and tried to slip back inside unnoticed by the late arrivals. Her hope that they would continue on to the next inn was dashed as they came into view. They were a young couple. The husband was leading a small donkey with his wife sitting precariously astride the animal as she gently held her swollen belly. She stared as they approached and wondered what in heaven’s name possessed them to make this journey so obviously near the child’s time of arrival.

The husband had the decency to look apologetic as he approached; clearing his throat as he hopefully asked if there was any room left in the inn. She laughed in disbelief, and regretted it instantly as she saw the crestfallen looked that befell both of them. She stepped closer, more out of curiosity than anything, and introduced herself as the innkeeper’s widow. She was fully prepared to tell them that there was no room in the inn, but the feeling that had begun to take root in her heart became stronger. She couldn’t explain it but for the first time in two months, peace trickled into her heart as she stood facing these very weary and soon-to-be parents.

She looked ashamed as she offered them all she had left. She offered her stable where the cow and a few goats and chickens resided. Rather than being appalled, the couple seemed truly grateful. As she led them down the path to the stable, the night seemed to grow brighter. There was still no moon, but as she glanced upward one star had become noticeably brighter. If she didn’t know any better she would have thought it was directly above them. She shook her head and chalked her crazy feelings up to exhaustion. By the looks of the young mother-to-be, there would be little sleep for any of them tonight. She settled them into the stable and returned to the inn to gather things that would be needed for the impending birth.

It was a long night, and the three of them soon became bound by the circumstances that threw them together in a Bethlehem stable behind an overly full inn. They didn’t speak much, but somehow their stories became intertwined, as did their hearts. They slowly told her why they had come to Bethlehem so close to the child’s birthday. Yes, they were there to fulfill the census, but they were also escaping questions without answers and were looking for some peace themselves. She did not know a peace that surpassed all understanding was about to descend upon all of them. But as the first cries of the child pierced the silent night, a holy peace erupted into her world and a presence that she had cried out for earlier that night became real. God was with her.

He had not forgotten her. He stepped into her world that cold winter morning. Her grief still had hold of her heart, but so did hope. The small child she held in her arms fulfilled the promises of old. In her arms, she held the fulfillment of hope, peace, joy and love.

”For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Isaiah 9:6

She looked up through her tears at the man that had brought peace to her world. She knew His promises were being fulfilled, but her heart was breaking. She never would have believed that she would be there when the Son of God was born, but she could not fathom that she was watching Him die. 

For her. 

She glanced over at Mary and knew her soul was being torn in two. She reached over and took her hand in her hands. The two women that were together the night the story began prayed that this was not how the story would end. And in that moment, a new certainty began to stir deep within them. They looked into each other’s eyes and knew…the story was just beginning.

“Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.” Revelations 1:17-18

And when I think,
That God, His Son not sparing;
Sent Him to die,
I scarce can take it in;
That on the Cross,
My burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died
To take away my sin.

Then sings my soul,
My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art!
How great Thou art!
Then sings my soul,
My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art!
How great Thou art!

When Christ shall come,
With shouts of acclamation,
And take me home,
What joy shall fill my heart!
Then I shall bow
In humble adoration
And there proclaim,
"My God, how great Thou art!"

How Great Thou Art
~Carl Boberg~