Tuesday, December 24, 2013

It's So Much More

Pain. Searing, burning pain. Inward, outward, consuming her.  With final groan of agony the child comes forth into this cold rejecting world. Small, weak, needing her. Needing her nourishment, her warmth, her love and her care. His small, fragile life dangles, depending on her for survival. And yet as she looks down into her babes face she knows. It is not his survival that hangs in the balance. It is her own. This tiny helpless babe needing her care in order to live, is the one and only thing that can save her.
I can't imagine being Mary. One moment she was his mother. His world. Her milk nourished him. Her warmth comforted him. Her touch calmed him. To this tiny baby, she was everything. She was his world.
Then all too soon, she wasn't.
I wonder when it hit her. Was it when Simeon came to her in the temple? This old man, a stranger, waiting before death for one thing. Was it when he held her child and said that his eyes were beholding salvation?
Or maybe she began to understand when she found her lost son in the temple, speaking with the religious leaders and "being about his father's business." Did it stab at her heart in a way to hear him say that?
How do you parent the Son of God anyways? Was there an inward struggle as she sought to teach and train and raise him, but knowing that he would be the one to teach her? She was his mother. She was his everything......but she wasn't. He was her everything.
Then the miracles. He could do things, heal people, change things that were out of her control. That moment of desperation when all she wanted to do was fix the problem and the only one who could truly fix it was her son, the child that had depended on her for survival. Was there ever irritation or frustration that he was so much more than her? Did she ever want to shrink away because of how small she felt in comparison to her son?
Then the cross. I can't imagine the agony. Her son, her child who she loved with every ounce of human love, there hanging on a cross. And she down below, helpless to save him.
One moment he was a babe, needing her, depending on her for his very survival, the next moment, nailed to a tree, suffering in agony and there is absolutely nothing she can do.
She can't reach up and pull him to safety in her arms.
She can't ease the pain with a kiss.
She can't wrap him in a blanket and cuddle him.
But she can watch.
And as her heart screams in torrents of pain, she looks up and sees her son, her Savior, on that cross. Her precious, beautiful babe, is on that tree saving her, saving the world.
Then it hits her.
That moment.
The realization that she put him there.
Her little baby that she nursed and held and loved, the one thing that she wanted to save and protect more than anything in the world, she had nailed to the cross. That moment of utter desperation as she falls before her son, wanting only to rescue him from the agony, to save him from such pain, but being helpless to do so because that is the only way through which she herself might be saved.
He is saving her.
Small and weak.
Her life depends on him.
Her very survival depends on him.
The roles are switched.
Her son is more than just a babe. Her son is His Son. The Son of God. The Savior of the world. The Savior of Mary.
And she must let Him go for her own sake and the sake's of millions of billions of people in the span of time. She must release her precious child for the calling for which He came. When everything in her screams at her to pull him close and never let him go, that is when she must release Him. She is His mother, but He is her Savior and she is utterly helpless, lost, eternally dead without Him. He is her only Salvation.
That tiny little child came to die for her, to save her from herself.
The one thing she so desperately wanted to cling to was the very thing she had to let go. 

Mary had to rock her Savior to sleep and then she had to watch Him die.

Isn't that the essence of Christmas? Isn't that what we should be celebrating? Christmas is so much more than the baby. Christmas is about death and life and salvation made free.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

God is Good - In Which I Share My Pre-Daylight Ramblings

Morning chill.
Hot Chai.
Good things for the brain before the sun rises. A moment or two spent in the Word. A journal page filled. Actually, filled is too nice a word. Crammed would be better. Crammed with words and dots and dashes, making up a short summary of the thoughts in my brain. It's early. There's a chance that what made sense a moment ago will appear to be a discombobulated jumble of words later. But it's out there.
Kaila's head before the sun rises.
Kaila's thoughts.
I call these thoughts, "God-thoughts." Little thoughts, here and there, with a similar theme; God. His wonder, His glory, His faith, His justice, His love. Thoughts on God. 

God is good.
Do you know that? It's a simple phrase. Something easily devalued. What worth is the word "good" nowadays anyways? We're all good here aren't we. Our efforts are good. Our piddley little tries are good. What's really good?
God is good.
God is very good.

Take a moment. Let it sink in. Let that thought consume your mind. Close your eyes.
He is good.
He is God.
God is good.

I've been thinking this "God-thought" a lot lately. Taking time to pause from my daily craziness and think. Stopping every now and then to let it overwhelm me. Spacing out in a moment of enraptured amazement. It's good to think on God's goodness. It does things to our hearts. It makes the momentary worries and confusions of this world seems small and inferior. God's goodness transforms worry into trust, love into hate, confusion into security, and the endless monotony of everyday things into purpose.

Now let's throw some Christmas into this "God-thought."
I'm usually quite the Christmas Elf, so to speak. Christmas music can't come fast enough. Holiday food and holiday cheer; things I thrive on and live for during December. Spray paint, ornaments, lights, ribbon! The stuff of life, right?
Not always.
It took me a bit longer to hit my holiday heights this year. My brain was preoccupied. Filled. Tired perhaps? But then I got to thinking about how good God is.

God is good.
He gives good gifts to His children.
He gave His Son as a baby.
Thus, Christmas.

That baby. Or I should write, that Baby. The Savior of the World. Humble, simple, small. Just a baby. But not just a baby. God's greatest gift. God's answer to thousands of prayers. God's healing for millions. God's salvation offered to all. This baby. This gift.

I wonder how many times the prophets of old had begged God for Him to send their Redeemer, the Messiah. How they must have yearned and pleaded and prayed. One by one, they died, ever praying, ever trusting, that one day their Deliverer was coming. And He came! Some were there to see Him. Some now get to hear of Him. Some simply got to hope and pray for Him. Each of us has our time and place. But the significance of this gift will never change.

Would I have been a good Isaiah? Could I have prophesied and told of the Messiah to come, with full faith and confidence, even though my eyes should never see Him? Would I have the faith to believe that this Gift God had promised was coming? Was for real? With my own people all around me, rejecting God, rejecting His goodness, would I have been able to trust that He is good and that He gives good gifts?
Am I able to trust now?
God has sent His Son. The Savior has come. The Savior has died and risen again. I have seen and heard the glories of God's gifts. Has that changed my trust?
Can I claim the goodness of God?
Can I rest assured in His promises?

My answer should be a resounding "YES!"
But my answer is rarely so confident.

Rather than trusting in His goodness, I find myself wallowing in my momentary afflictions; if they can even be called afflictions. It's more like wallowing in daily life and feeling blah because I'm too blind to open my eyes and see His goodness all around me. My pathetic drudging blinds my sight. My prayers, if any, become unfeeling requests of "help me get through today." My thoughts sit and dwell on my sorry self. It's pitiful. Not once do I think of the millions of people all over the world who actually have problems to deal with. It's all me, and my trials, and my whinings, my complainings, my groanings. And all for what? There's no purpose to it other than the wasting away of a life.

But, when God is good....
well, He's always good.
When God is good and I open my eyes to see it, there is something magical that changes. The heart becomes transformed. The mind becomes cleared. The prayers are real and living. The burdens of the saints become real. They become your burdens and you pray. You pray, not because it's what a Christian does, but you pray because you can't go without it. You NEED it, you CRAVE it, you LONG for that time to pour out your heart to God because HE IS GOOD!
He is good and He hears.
He hears the prayers we pray.
He hears the petitions of our hearts.
He savors our words, our feeble, jumbled, nonsensical words, because He is good and He loves us!

And the mores we taste of His goodness and love, the more we love.
We love Him.
We love others around us.
It's real, it's living, it's raging within us. Not just a sentimental, its-Christmas-we-should-love-everybody, but a real bearing of one another's burdens. It's a deeper, consuming kind of love that takes over, because when we taste His goodness and His love it changes us. It rocks our world!

There's a song. It's been stuck in my head lately. It asks a question. "What if we all loved like it's Christmas, more than once a year?" Why do we love at Christmas?
Could it be that the plastic, light-up nativity scene means more than decoration and charm? Could it be that bell ringers represent more than someone asking for money? Could it be that under all the commercial, holiday-hoobie-whatie, there's something more?
God's goodness!
God's love!
That's what's under it all!
And even though Christmas gets secularized and tinkered with, there is this underlying reminder of God's good Gift to the world that is almost impossible to miss unless your eyes are completely closed.
You know what I think? We should have that nativity scene out and lit up in June!
Let's be honest, we are forgetful people. We need that reminder up! We need to daily be reminded of God's goodness, of His Gift, of His love. Because we forget. We lose sight. We forget to pray. We forget that He hears.
God is good!

He is so SO GOOD!!!
And He loves us.

He loves us enough to say "No," and "Not yet." He loves us enough to make us wait. Isaiah didn't get to be there for Messiah's birth. But oh the glory that he must have felt in hearing from God the prophesy of Messiah! The prayerful hope and yearning for the Messiah, the Deliverer, the Son of God he must have felt! And us, we have seen and heard. Do we believe?

Is God good to you?
He is good.
But is He good to you? Do you see His goodness? Have you opened your eyes and heart to the goodness He has poured out?

Do you see that plastic, light up baby. It's a picture, a crude, plastic reminder. But it's real! That Baby changed everything. God's goodness in sending His Son, changed everything. We need to remember that. We need to claim that goodness.

Chai tea is gone.
It's still dark out.
I need another sweater.

God is good.
Don't forget.