Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Cradle and a Cross

Dear Friends,

It’s early Saturday morning and I just got off the phone with my sister. I stare out the window of my study. The sun is just starting to turn the blackness of night into shades of gray. But now there are too many tears to be able to see anything clearly. My mom has just died. She lived in Missouri and just two weeks ago we had a long conversation about what we were doing for Christmas. We reminisced about the wonderful Christmas times our family had when we were all young. The last thing we said to each other was, “I love you...” Then just last week something happened. Hospice was called. We prayed she would live through Christmas Day. It was her favorite time of year...

My sister and I have said our tearful good-byes and I look out my window to a dark, bleak, cold winter morning. There is no comfort out there. No peace. No solace. I rub the tears from my eyes and look down to see the baby Jesus bathed in a golden light and lying in the manger. I’ve had this Nativity Set since I was nine years old. My maternal grandmother had given it to me and it’s now sitting on the bookshelf under the window.

While my thoughts began to process the reality of my mom’s death, I find myself fixated on the image of the Baby. And suddenly I hear that quiet, still Voice in my spirit: “This is why I was born...”

It was Jesus Himself who told us the reason for His coming to us as a human – His incarnation: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” John 3:16

My mom believed in Jesus. She and my dad met at church when they were teenagers. They were married in that same church and that was where they baptized their three children. We grew up in a godly home and it was no surprise to my mother that her first-born son eventually became a pastor.

I didn’t talk about my mom at church the next day. Some people find comfort and healing by talking out their thoughts and feelings with others. Some people withdraw into the presence of God and best process their grief when it’s one-on-One with Him. Count me among the latter.

We don’t know what heaven will be like until we get there, but according to God’s Word, there are some things that we can count on and look forward to. At the moment of death, the veil parts for the Christian believer and we step over the threshold and into heaven. We take our last breath on earth and our next breath in heaven. And we know that we will be reunited with our loved ones. 2 Cor 5:8 (NLT)   2 Sam12:22-23

Between having my sister and brother, there was a miscarried baby. A stillborn child that my mom never stopped thinking about. But that baby simply bypassed life on earth and was shortcutted directly to heaven by a loving and merciful Creator. On Saturday afternoon, I felt joy at the thought of my mom now holding that lost baby that she had never forgotten.

Maybe Christmas was the perfect time for her to go home to Jesus. She celebrated Christmas with her loved ones and then went to celebrate Christmas with the One who she had always celebrated.

Into the darkness of my grief, God had whispered, “This is why I was born...” He is God with us. Born so that we could be redeemed and restored to our Creator. Life can hurt. We can celebrate one day and be in anguish the next. We lose loved ones and loved ones will lose us. But helplessness and despair are transformed into hope by the cradle and the cross. By death, He has trampled down death. The Apostle Paul tells us, “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? ...But thank God! He gives us victory over..death through our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Cor 15:55-57 (NLT) 

This is why we celebrate Christmas. Because the cradle lies in the shadow of the cross. The Son of God came from heaven to earth to make a way for my mom. And for your mom. For your loved ones and for mine. For you.. And for me...

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