Thank you to all who have gone with me through this year and special thanks to those who have dropped me notes of encouragement. Let me leave you with a final thought.
There is a little portion of Scripture that always reminds me of Christmas. It isn’t one you usually hear connected with Christmas, but I wanted to share it with you as my last blog submission for 2013.
Romans 8:24, 25 says, “For we are saved by hope: But hope that is seen is not hope: For what a man seeth, Why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.”
This verse reminds me of Christmas presents! We don’t know what they hold. We anxiously wait in hopeful anticipation that they will be what we imagine! If we knew what is in the gift, then the magic would be all gone…there would not be hope because we already knew what it held.
I think that is what makes Christmas so fun – the anticipation. There is so much hope around the Christmas season. We hope the house will be beautiful - bountifully decorated with lovely smells coming from the kitchen, candles and lavish wreaths, a fully lit tree, etc.
We hope the family will all be there smiling, happy and laughing, beautifully attired and cooperative!
We hope the meal will be like a magazine. The turkey roasted to perfection on a platter with a heavily laden table of goodies, candles and matching dishes and everything goodie your heart can imagine.
We place so much hope on the day! But sometimes – it just doesn’t turn out that way!
I remember our first Christmas back from the field. We were living in the house where I grew up on the farm. All of the family had gathered for a wonderful meal. All four of my grandparents were there, my mom, brother, sisters and nephews and nieces. We had a lovely day and then that afternoon we all settled down to watch a video of my younger sister’s wedding, which had taken place a few months prior. Just as we started, someone noticed it had started raining outside. Now that’s not unusual, but, when it starts to rain and the temperature outside is below freezing, the rain quickly turns to ice.
The cars were starting to ice over. Everyone grabbed their coats and gifts and rushed out the door to get home before the roads were impassable. About an hour later the electrics went off and by the light of the fireplace spent the rest of our Christmas. We brought the mattresses into the main room and for the next three days we did everything in that room. Even had our Christmas leftovers heated in the fireplace.
Another Christmas, my mother came to be with us in England. We had spent the day decorating and had gone out to get a real tree to make it special. When we got home, we realized our tree was a bit big, but, not to be deterred, we set about erecting it and decorating. As we stood back to admire our work, the tree fell right before us. My mother turned, looked at me, and went upstairs leaving Tom and I to try to get it back up again!
At the age of 13 I remember another Christmas. There was a gift for me under the tree. We were allowed to shake them and try to figure out what was inside. This gift was a cylinder shape. It rattled and clanged when I shook it and I could not figure out what was inside. So I had an idea, I would ask my sister. She told me it was makeup. I was so very excited! I was 13 and I could not wait to wear makeup. I could barely imagine my mother being so intuitive as to know my desire. I could hardly wait til Christmas.
But, on the day, as I opened that much awaited gift my hopes were dashed. It was not makeup – it was roller skates. The metal kind that you strap to your shoes, hence all the clanging! Hardly what I had hoped for! I was truly disappointed.
I’m sure you would have some similar stories. Sadly, many of us know the disappointment of hopes unrealized! Especially during the Christmas season.
I think it is because we get our hopes built up on the wrong thing. Our hope is misplaced. You see, it isn’t about the gifts or the trappings. It truly is about the celebration of the Baby Jesus. But for some reason we forget that. We need to remind ourselves to adjust our expectations. To simply overlook the bumps and enjoy the celebration!
Our house might not look like the magazine. But it can be adorned for His glory.
Our family might not be perfect – but they are His gifts to us, and we should appreciate them and love them just as they are.
Our meal might not be lavish or bountiful, but we can serve it as unto Him.
We can enjoy the celebration because it is just a glimpse of glory. It is a time of giving. God gave – initially as the Baby was born in a manger, then, ultimately as this child was sacrificed upon the Cross.
Thankfully that isn’t the end of the story. This same Son assures us that He has gone to prepare a place for us where we can be with him forever. The Bible says that eye has not seen nor ear heard what is prepared for those that love him. This celebration will be perfect and will last for eternity. He gives us this hope of heaven and we will not be disappointed.
The Bible also speaks of those without this hope - those who do not know where they will be after death. It tells us that God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should have eternal life. And this life, this hope, is in His Son.
The child born in the manger is the Saviour – the most precious gift of Christmas and in whom you will not be disappointed. If you do not have this hope, I trust you will seek it out. There is hope in Christ – no matter your circumstance. And with Him comes the hope of Heaven.
There was an old man in my church back home who would occasionally recite a poem called No Disappointment in Heaven. I’d like to share it with you.
There's no disappointment in heaven
No weariness sorrow or pain
No hearts that are bleeding and broken
No song with a minor refrain
The clouds of our earthly horizon
Will never appear in the sky
For all will be sunshine and gladness
With never a sob or a sigh
We'll never pay rent for our mansion
The taxes will never come due
Our garments will never grow threadbare
But always be fadeless and new
We'll never be hungry or thirsty
Nor languish in poverty there
For all the rich bounties of heaven
His sanctified children will share
There'll never be crepe on the doorknob
No funeral train in the sky
No graves on the hillsides of glory
For there we shall never more die
The old will be young there forever
Transformed in a moment of time
Immortal we'll stand in His likeness
The stars and the sun to outshine
I'm bound for that beautiful city
My Lord has prepared for his own
Where all the redeemed of all ages
Sing glory around the white throne
Sometimes I grow homesick for heaven
And the glories I there shall behold
What a joy that will be
When my Saviour I see
In that beautiful city of gold
Frederick M. Lehman
I hope you have the Hope of Heaven and I hope you have a wonderful Christmas. I hope your home is beautiful, your family happy and your meal turns out fantastic.
But most of all I hope you take time to enjoy the celebration…this little glimpse of glory…this time to focus on the hope of Christmas…the baby Jesus…God’s gift to you…and His promise of Heaven.