What would I be doing RIGHT now this week if I was in the US???
Parties, decorating, shopping, school activities, church activities, more parties, memories to make, traditions to keep, family to see, cooking, baking, candle stick making. If I am honest I almost make Christmas a sport as I try to fill our calendar with wonderful memories and magical moments the whole month long! All wonderfully wonderful things–and some that I truly miss this year. But there is a fraction of that here in our corner of the world. Even if I wanted to, there is no competition for me to enter when it comes to the most holiday events to attend, parties, and festivities to fill your calendar. As far as I can see the emphasis in Africa is just different. I could drive for hundreds of miles and never see a blow up Santa. (I mean do you have any idea the amount of electricity that one of those takes to run?) I am just thankful when my fridge stays cold all night!
Christmas appears to be less commercial and a little more quaint. Um, yes please. I will take it. I will take a simpler more quaint Christmas this year–less jingle bells and twinkling lights.
This is a Christmas that has truly grounded me. I am SO serious when I say (maybe for the first time) I feel like we are not missing the essence of Christmas. It seems like more than ever my children understand “the reason for the season.” My favorite time of the day (each day of December) has been our daily advent readings. (When we are done my kids beg me to keep reading!) We are reading from the Storybook Bible and every reading points to, “A Great Rescue,” “The Good Shepherd”…the “King of All Kings.” I can see (especially the older kids) tracking as God poetically weaves the stories of the Old Testament together in preparation for the Story of His Son. So many parallels, so much symbolism, so much foreshadowing. I marvel at His Story and how well planned His great Rescue really was.
When I read today about David I was reminded that at an EARLY age he was told he would be King. Anointed with oil by Samuel–to make it official. But I wonder if when he was being chased by Saul and hiding out in the desert for fear of his life, if maybe just maybe, he thought Samuel had gotten it wrong? Or if he had wondered if God was actually going to fulfill His promise? Or if he would ever be back with family and friends? Of if this helpless, lonely time of hiding would ever finally end?
I feel lonely sometimes. I miss Chris. I miss the familiar. I miss friends. I miss my bed. I miss convenience–ugh America you spoiled me–but I do. I miss Starbucks. Yep, said it. I miss garlicky kale salad from Whole Foods. (A friend here laughs at me when I tell her I crave brussel sprouts and beets but if you know me you know I DO!) I miss church. I miss the public library. I miss my gym. I miss my dishwasher. I miss my washer and dryer.
Doubt will creep in…will it be 6 months? A year? Fear will whisper, “are you sure it will not be 3 years?”
But then I read about David. I am encouraged by his faith and trust in God.
I attempt to read aloud his words to my children without my voice breaking:
“Even when I walk through the dark, scary, lonely places I won’t be afraid
Because my Shepherd knows where I am.
He is here with me
He keeps me safe
He rescues me
He makes me strong and brave.”
The Storybook Bible Psalm 23
God is so very close. He is here with me…He hasn’t left my side. He started this process–and He will complete it. David likely thought his anointing with oil and defeat of Goliath would likely move Him quickly in to the palace and position that was promised–it simply wasn’t so. His story–his desert hiding and wandering…it was part of his journey. I cannot begin to imagine the personal growth, His faith enhanced, His preparation for what was next, His heart–that God already LOVED–softened and molded more like Christ.
I would have liked to have flown right through this process without a single blip or bump along the way. Plenty do. God, Sovereignly has another story to write. As I read the poetic story line of the Old Testament parallels of Moses, Abraham, and David…I am strengthened and encouraged to know that our story is and will be an Epic one that He writes. One that has lonely places and discomfort. But will we not arrive on the other side of this process stronger, more prepared for the next phase, softened, and hopefully, prayerfully…molded more like Christ?
This Christmas He has my heart held closer to His than ever before.
I am thankful–and would not trade this moment, this Christmas for any that the world has to offer.
May You Be a Blessing and May You Be Blessed,