This has to be the most “going through the motions” Christmas I can remember. UGH!
I could list the Top 10 reasons, but I’m not going to. Instead I’ll tell a quick story. Yesterday I needed to get out of the house. When I say "needed", I mean I actually needed a few things. I would have been happy to stay home and in my p.j.s all day. I didn’t want to go anywhere for any reason. I needed to. So I got dressed, composed my list and headed out to the car.
But before I could leave I made two trips back inside; once to get my cell phone which was hiding, so I had to call from our home phone to locate it and once to grab my water cup.
Each time I re-entered the house, I’d think, “I don’t really need to go to Scott's, do I?” But I’d always answer and say, “Yes, you need to go.” Lest anyone reading is in fear that I’m going batty with talking to (and answering) myself, the thought has crossed my mind too.
When I finally backed out of the garage grumbling to myself that it’s too cold and windy, that winter is dreary when ice is on the streets and the sun is behind gray clouds, that Christmas is way too much work and… it was as if the Lord stopped me with a pierce to my joyless banter. He reminded me that I’m a “child of the King” and that I’m not the only one having a rough time this Christmas. (He’s been reminding me of this lately.) I thanked him and prayed that I could keep it together at Scott’s, our grocery store (for now I was convicted and on the verge of tears of sorrow mixed with joy) and I prayed to be an encouragement instead of a Scrooge.
Scott’s was quieter than I had anticipated which suited me fine. I walked by a lady all decked out in a cute and silly little hat with Christmas baubles hanging from it. She looked vaguely familiar, but at this time of year there are many out-of-town visitors here to see family, so I lumped her in with the Lindsborg visitors… I passed her first in the juice aisle. The next time I passed the hat lady, she was at the meat counter apologizing to Bob, the butcher, who was mopping up the mess from a jar of pickled herring she had dropped. Pickled herring is a delicacy to Swedes and is fare for more celebratory or lavish occasions. Our family sometimes indulges in pickled herring, but Mike’s Mom more often makes lutfisk for our Christmas get-together. (Lutfisk is a different fish and a different story than herring. Herring can be eaten out of the jar, and lutfisk, which is a dried fish, has to be reconstituted and “hidden in a cream sauce”. Swedes seem to like this.) I’m getting sidetracked.
What I set out to say had nothing to do with the hat lady. I saw someone I did recognize at the end of the bread aisle. I recognized Evelyn (not her real name). I said hello and she stopped to chat. Seems she was having a crazy day. She had just wrecked her husband’s car, had to send more money (like $1,500.00) to a son stranded in an airport, (It’s a long story, but it sounded a bit like an airport conspiracy and I wondered what the airlines were up to.) and she mentioined a few more perplexing struggles. We encouraged each other remembering that God is not surprised about any of this and that He is Lord of all!
The confession part is that I was encouraged that I’m not the only one struggling! I always feel bad when I’m encouraged by someone else’s struggles. I’m not glad that others are struggling, but it’s nice to know I’m not alone and that God is busily using our struggles in the process of conforming us to the image of His Son! The Father is completely satisfied with His Son and that’s where I want to land amidst struggles, spilled and busted jars, changed plans and tears. The "going through the motions" overflows to "going through 'emotions'" and lands on the King of Kings becoming flesh and dwelling among us. John 1:1-14
Here are the words of a song that keep repeating in my mind:
Satisfied with Thee, Lord Jesus, I am blest;
Peace which passeth understanding, on Thy breast;
No more doubting, no more trembling,
Oh, what rest! Oh, what rest!
Occupied with Thee, Lord Jesus, in Thy grace;
All Thy ways and tho’ts about me only trace
Deeper stories of the glories
Of Thy grace, of Thy grace.
Taken up with Thee, Lord Jesus, I would be;
Finding joy and satisfaction all in Thee;
Thou the nearest and the dearest
Unto me, unto me.
List’ning for Thy shout, Lord Jesus, in the air!
When Thy saints shall rise with joy to meet Thee there;
O what gladness! no more sadness,
Sin nor care, sin nor care.