Joy to The World

wreath

My family is pretty close, and crazy, too, but close.  See that’s just the thing, they’re MY crazy, and I love them.  Wouldn’t trade them for anything or anyone.  The Smith side of the family is sarcastic, witty, and extremely loyal.  They bicker and complain about each other, but they’re the only ones allowed to do it.  My mama’s side of the family is goofy, quick to laugh at themselves, and humble.  They have a fierce love for each other that is inclusive and welcoming.  Both families remain full of love and conviction in their own unique way.  I love them both so much, for so much of them define and explain me so well.

Being away from them during the holidays has been harder than I expected, missing the laughing til my sides ache, the new memories and stories told of older times, the new little bundles of joy being added each year to our family, the unhealthy amounts of food, the four wheelers, etc.  But it’s tucked away and woven into these longings that I find another conviction, One that rings deep and shakes the very Core of this holiday that has provoked such longings.

It’s crazy what all a year can change, for this time last year, I remember leaving Snowbird Wilderness Outfitters the morning after the Christmas party, winding through the familiar mountain roads, listening to Hillsong’s version of Emmanuel in tears, realizing for the first time that everything in my life had been staked on this claim: that Jesus Christ, perfect sinless God and perfect sinless man had come to us, condescended to us that our sins might be forgiven and our broken relationship with Him be restored.  Hallelujah.

Let’s take a step back for a second because I want to reiterate this point…the Incarnation. God, in the flesh, Emmanuel-God with us, the Messiah, our Savior, Prince of Peace, Yahweh, the One who led the Israelites into and through the wilderness, the One who created you and me–He has come! The One who would come to redeem His Bride, who would “deliver us from the domain of darkness and transfer us to the Kingdom of His beloved Son” has come!

My hope and my joy this Christmas season live not in the promise of family skype dates, or in seeing them in another year, or in new life seasons, or ministry “successes,” or in the job I have, money I make, presents I receive, etc, for my Hope and Joy are indeed living.  Even as distance separates me from those I love I am so beautifully reminded that the One who first loved me remains ever present for He made the ultimate separation in coming to us.  And the only reason I’m here finds itself in these facts, that I carry this beautiful message.

I wrote this last year, and it’s as true then as it is now, just with a little different experience backing it up:

“Even when nothing in me was bent towards moving overseas: It was the Lord sustaining me.  He has called me, He will sustain me.  He has sustained the call in my life to obedience, not me.  ALL PRAISE AND GLORY TO GOD.”

I’m praying for each of you that reads this post–that as you celebrate your own Christmas season that regardless of your proximity to those you love, that your joy, peace, and satisfaction lay in the One who “did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the form of  a servant, being born in the likeness of men.”  He is so incredibly worthy of our praise, brothers and sisters.

 

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