Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Messy Christmas!



This post began several weeks ago as our Christmas letter and after about 7 drafts, I gave up. This year was just too full, too hard, too good, too raw…too much to capture and make palatable for a Christmas letter. So, after a few drafts I was out of words and, thankfully, Andy said, “This isn’t a Christmas letter, this is a blog post.” YES. 

Merry Christmas – here’s what began as your Christmas letter and ended as a blog post that might make you think we’re crazy! I’m pretty sure Christmas letters are supposed to recap the year and share reflections…which we sort of do all the time now with facebook and instagram and blogs and all the other social media venues that I haven’t ventured into. I don’t tweet. We tried to think of how we would sum up this year in a glossy, meaningful way and – to be honest – we came up short. Honestly, my first draft of the aforementioned Christmas letter was full of clichés. I was the queen of clichés. We were like a Norman Rockwell painting incarnate in the first draft.

Generally, we feel like we have no idea what’s going on and we are hanging on for dear life to get through the week in one piece. In a good way, of course. The fullness of life can sometimes feel like more that we can handle. Our house is a mess, the sink is full of dishes, there’s three weeks of laundry folded on top of the dryer, and sometimes our kids eat cheese and apples and olives for dinner. 

That’s just the outward reflection of the inner chaos, though, isn’t it? It is for us. We often, even though we love God, feel like we are wandering. Not wandering without Christ, but wandering…more like faithful plodding. We go. We move forward {at least we think it’s forward}. We walk where the Lord leads us. 

Visual aid: Imagine a team building activity where you’re blindfolded and told to complete an obstacle course with a partner who is also blindfolded. There you go. That’s our life. Maybe it’s yours, too…

There is a strange comfort in knowing that we serve a God who can take our jumbled up, messy lives and make beauty. We aren’t going into missions because we have it all together. We are going because we are called and somehow God makes sense of our chaos because it glorifies Him. We are far from perfect. We hide, we are dirty, we fall. Yet our God comes to rescue us. We have focus in our journey to missions because God gives it to us. We make amazing progress in our support raising because God leads and guides our steps. We are busier than ever sharing and moving towards serving with MMS…but we are still, every day, in desperate need of Christ our Savior. Christ came as a baby, helpless and needy, and ultimately righted all our wrongs. And he comes day after day after day to show us that we need him. To love us in our mess. I guess the recap or reflection for this year is that we are clueless. But we are led. Led by our Savior.

During Christmas our kids are fascinated with the baby Jesus. They love pretending to hold the baby and they want to talk about what it was like for Mary to take care of her baby. The nativity is, by far, their favorite decoration. We sing about the baby Jesus in many Christmas hymns. In many of those hymns, however, the words about baby Jesus are not about his baby-ness. The familiar words of Hark the Herald Angels Sing, O Holy Night, and Come Thou Long Expected Jesus recount the position of sinners and power of our reconciling Savior. 

Come Thou Long Expected Jesus…
Born to set thy people free; 
from our fears and sins release us…
Born a child and yet a King…

Hark the herald angels sing…
God and sinners reconciled…
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die…

O holy night! The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth
Long lay the world in sin and e’er pining
Til he appeared and the soul felt its worth

The words are about how this baby, born meek and mild, will reconcile sinners with God. Unable to reconnect with God on their own and after hundreds of years of silence from God and the prophets, the Israelites – and sinners all around – will have a Savior. As this thought settles on my heart, I am reminded that God will stop at nothing to pursue us…including entering our messy, chaotic world as a baby. A baby is virtually irresistible to everyone. Who doesn’t love a baby? Other than King Herod. Many times babies have the power to bring families together, pulling the wandering lost sheep back into the fold as everyone marvels at this new miracle, this new chance at life. And didn’t baby Jesus do just that? He began the long process of drawing the family of God back together.  

I felt slightly less insane when our pastor preached on Sunday along a similar theme…it’s not about the fragility of the Christ child. It is about what the baby Christ reveals to humanity. Christ came not to overwhelm us with his cuteness, but to overwhelm us with his power and glory. Sometimes I feel like I have the ability to take something simple/clear/concise and make it complicated. That’s how I felt about the non-baby-ness of Christ topic. Geez, why do I have to take the cheerful cuteness right out of Christmas?!?!? But Christmas was never meant to be cheerful or cute. So, I won’t apologize.

But I will invite you to live in the mess. Sometimes I let the piles of laundry make me grumpy. Like yesterday.  Always be seeking to see Christ more clearly but don’t let the mess of your life block your vision of Christ. Like I did yesterday.

Well, the house isn’t any cleaner. All the wrong things are still in all the wrong places. But we are rescued. We are covered. We might feel lost and messy but we aren’t. Well, we are but our Savior has already made it right. He puts all the right things in all the right places. Rest easy, dear ones. Your house, your life, your piles, your clutter…you will never get it right. But that’s ok. Our life is a stinking mess, kinda like the manger, but God is still using us and glorifying himself along the way. 

Merry Christmas!

p.s. Please visit us on facebook at En Route – People, Planes & Prayer to see all the photos, updates, and ongoing recaps of our life and missionary journey! There’s pictures of the kids, pictures of us in turkey hats, and a plethora of great kids quotes! You can also follow Trisha on instagram for similar types of things, plus foodie posts :) 

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