As I walked around the house Christmas night, tidying up the kitchen and wiping everything down. The Christmas dishes washed and ready to be placed back in their lonely box until next year, I caught a reflection in a Christmas Bauble on the tree, which was sitting quite alone in the living room — the family no longer gathered around its evergreen branches — packages unwrapped and sitting under it — all was quiet.
I saw reflections of love and laughter and joy that had been unpackaged throughout the day. Hearts that reflected Christmases that have long been packed away in our remembrances and new ones that will be wrapped in the fragility of time.
That red Christmas ornament gave me glimpses of all that the Lord has lavished on me throughout the years — the blessings that have been counted one-by-one — the aroma of Christ…come wrapped as a Babe and placed in a feeding trough. The red causing me to recall His blood shed on a tree that bore only two decorations — a plaque that read, “Jesus King of the Jews,” and not a shining, glittering star, like the one God placed over Bethlehem to lead the Wise men to the babe, but a crown of thorns that pierced His brow. The gift given? Salvation, to the world — not wrapped in shiny paper, rather wrapped in Grace and Mercy. All that He has given in His goodness to me — strung, if you will, like lights wrapped around the Christmas Tree…encircling my life and wrapped tightly much like Mary wrapped the Christ-Child in swaddling clothes.
He gives to us generously from His store-house — He sifts those gifts and blessings through His sovereign hands — sifting out that which would cause harm — keeping that which would mature and sanctify. Some gifts we don’t understand, but they are gifts nonetheless — given by a Father who loves us and He only gives good gifts.
As I lean down to unplug and extinguish the lights on that Christmas Tree, I am reminded that He is the Light of the world that can never be extinguished…forever beckoning the wayward to “come unto Me.”
“I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness.” (John 12:46)
With the room darkened and only the street light shining through the front window blinds, I sit in a nearby chair to think about the past year. It has been a tough year for all of us and even tougher on some. We’ve ploughed through a pandemic, school closures, businesses shuttered their windows, and for many even death.
“Lord, please show me the reason…the lesson…the value in these things we do not understand?” As I ask the question, the room is still…the night is quiet…my family is asleep…my question is answered.
While 2020 has been one of the most difficult times I can remember in our country and the world, I know from His Word that the things that have passed were necessary and there is more to come.
“You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. “But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs. “Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. “At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. “Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. “Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. “But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:6-14)
We must be ready — ready to persevere — ready to share the Gospel with others — ready to withstand the tribulations that are coming. Our purpose, as He tarries a bit longer, is to make Christ known and bring others with us into eternity.
“And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
Be ready to give an answer to those around you by the word of your testimony, as to why you follow Christ. Be ready to help them understand their need for Jesus and why He came — that is to save us.
“We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.” (1 John 4:14-15)
“For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10)
Therefore, gird yourself…put on the whole armor of God, for we will be in the toughest battle of our lives until the end. He will equip us, He will help us, He will comfort us, He will abide with us.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.” (Ephesians 6:10-20)
Soli Deo Gloria