I spent a good part of yesterday and this morning preoccupied with what to write this last post about. How do I wrap up this blog? And how do you conquer a subject like Christmas morning? It feels like a lot of pressure. I think the only way to start is by asking the question that is begging to be asked:
Was it a different December?
In some ways, no. This December was like every other December: full of extra responsibilities, a tighter schedule, more expectations, the hum of the holidays. Plus, some unexpected stuff, too, having nothing to do with Christmas, and everything to do with the nitty gritty of life. If I was anything in December, it was tired.
But this December was different, too. As I sit here on Christmas Day, just like I have every other morning in December, I cling to the one thing I have all month long: grace. And that has made this month different for me.
Last night I was trying to think of a way to summarize this Christmas, everything I learned and struggled with, everything that brought me tears of joy and so much peace. As I was sitting in church I found the inspiration I was looking for, right in my lap. My son was sitting there in his red plaid shirt on the lap of my gold sequin skirt. That picture, of sequins and plaid, was what I had been searching for.
So much of this month was filled with working man’s plaid: the frustrations of everyday life as usual, along with all the devil’s flaming arrows: temptations, despair, burdens, grief. So much of this life is weary work, an uphill trudge in this cold, cold world.
There are the occasional opportunities for sequins, the dress of celebration and light. The days, like Christmas, when we are surrounded by sparkle, the wonder of grace upon grace, the moments that raise the hairs on our arms, the joys in life that call our hearts to the knowledge of heaven.
This is December: a mix of sequins and plaid. The harsh realities of life and sorrow and work, mixed in with the bright spots of hope and joy and celebration. And I found this December, this different December, that grace dawned every single morning.
The everyday muck was still in every nook and cranny of my life: trying and failing and trying again, battling against my sinful nature, my pet sins, my expectations, and the trials of life. But the everyday grace of coming to Him? This grace was all sparkle, all sequins. This grace always turned me away from myself, my plans, and my shortcomings to Him and his love.
This is the beauty of grace, that
…when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
Things change not when we find a magic formula for figuring out our lives or for getting it right. We’re just not going to achieve that perfection this side of heaven. I learned otherwise:
- Things change when we learn to “leave it on the hillside” and find some “quiet.” The most important thing is that “it needs to be said.” When we put Jesus first, we get an abundance of change. We get to be “free from fear,” of our sins, of death, and of anything in this life. Even when we get “derailed,” we can find balance again in our “fulcrum.”
- I learned to “just be still,” because when we set aside time for him, “it’s joy we get.” We get more joy from the knowledge that Jesus wants to be “together” with us, the “best and worst of us.”
- It’s best to “begin at the end” knowing that heaven is our true “home.”
- The “road to rejoicing” is easier when we begin with repentence, “pack light” and allow ourselves to have “empty hands.”
- Sometimes there are no words for the frustrations, the sadness of this life, and the hopelessness in this world, but at those times we must look to our Light, spend an “extra hour” on our knees, and look forward to the “great expectations” we can have for heaven.
- We may have had it right in “kindergarten,” but we always have to remember to “check it twice.”
- While we are here on earth, our Father “calls us to hope,” to place our focus “above the clouds” where we will see his “bright star” coming again at His next Christmas.
Soon we will leave December, and what will we take into January? It’s the knowledge of sequins and plaid, all wrapped up in the sweet grace of God. All the bad and all the good, the hopes and disappointments, the longing and fulfillment, the sighs and the smiles, the tears and the laughter, the frustrations and little victories. It’s all life here on this earth, but it’s all wrapped up in God’s grace. Grace upon grace upon grace. That our failures can become fodder. That our fears can be soothed. That our sins are forgiven. That are hopes are secure. That His promises are truth. That His love is unchanging. This knowledge of grace, this Word made flesh, this is our everything. And this Christmas morning I can’t help but classify as sequins.
This Christmas morning is the dawn of that redeeming grace. My redeeming grace.
A Word of Thanks
When I began this blog 25 days ago, I didn’t think anyone beside my family would read it. I began this blog to keep myself on track, and I wasn’t expecting other people to come along for the ride. But I’ve been blessed with so much company. Thank you to new friends and old, from one side of the country to the other, who have celebrated December differently with me, who have read and encouraged, cheered and supported, commented and shared. Thank you to my family for being there, just like I knew you would be. Thank you to my husband, my live-in editor for bringing me hot mugs of coffee, for holding down the fort, and for being my soft place to land. He’s given me a lot of grace. And most of all, I thank my God for his Word, his answered prayers, his quiet discipline, his almighty love. I possess grace upon grace upon grace.