Today I sat with a family as they cried and laughed and celebrated the man who built their life. He was almost 91.
I sat with a young widow, in the living room that she and her husband had furnished together, their little boys running around underfoot as we tried to comprehend the total life change that had just happened. The Christmas tree they had decorated on Sunday stood by the window. He was a good man. He was 31.
Today I sat with friends at a kitchen table, and we tried to understand God’s timing and His higher ways. Hot tears filled our eyes as we wrestled with the truth that in his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.
I came home to my sweet husband and my babies with a heavy heart. The pain of this life is so real.
On a whim Chad and I decided to drag out all of our Christmas decorations and start putting up the tree. The kids were so excited, helping carry big boxes, squealing with excitement each time one was opened and they saw the trinkets and shiny proofs that Christmastime is almost here. We cranked up the Christmas music, and I let the kids stay up a little later than usual.
Just before I tucked her in, Emerald spotted a nativity set that is sitting, still boxed, in the middle of our living room. It’s just Joseph and Mary and baby Jesus, simple figures to grace a tabletop someplace. She pointed to the box and insisted that Jesus lights up. I’m not sure why she thought that, but I told her repeatedly that the set doesn’t light up. They’re just statues, I told her. I tucked her in, and when I left she was lying there, little girl in her big bed, blankie draped lovingly over her shoulder, leafing casually through a toy catalog that had come in the mail today. ‘
I stepped into the hallway, and almost ran smack into our non-lighted baby Jesus. I smiled at Emerald’s hard-headed persistence. Our Jesus doesn’t light up, I thought. But, then the words to a song played in my head: Light of the world, you stepped out into darkness…
This life can feel dark. Foreboding. It can be devastating and heart-breaking and sad. This life sometimes feels like all mourning and no dancing. Terrible things happen. Bodies get old and die. Young men kiss their wives and walk out the door, never to come home again. We get overloaded with more than we can handle. And, we feel like we’re suffocating in the dark of a sin-stained world full of death and unfulfilled expectations and plans that were supposed to be so perfect that ended in awful ways.
But, that’s why we have the manger. That’s why Emerald was actually more right than she knows when she insisted that our Jesus lights up. He came to that little hay bed when He could’ve been comfortably installed on a throne in Heaven, and He came for one reason: because He knew how desperately we need His light.
So, I know it’s almost Thanksgiving, and many of you don’t want to think about Christmas yet. But, on Thursday when you gather around the table with your family, stop for a moment in the middle of a dark and dangerous world, in the middle of the joys and heartaches of living this life, and thank God in Heaven for the Light of the World who showed up in a manger one night. He chases away the dark. And, if you’re in the middle of the sacred night right now, one of those moments when you realize just how broken this world really is, where the only thing you have to cling to is that baby in the manger and His eternal majesty and goodness, then sing with me a song of worship, even while we sit in the dark: Here I am to worship, Here I am to bow down, Here I am to say that You’re my God…
Worship Him, even here. And, He will honor it.