NOEL

This year. Nothing in it has seemed straightforward or easy. Really, little about it has felt comfortable.

The past ten months have been filled with moments of rejection, fear and floundering, wandering and wondering, angst and uncertainty, heartache – and the moments have created a season; A season that we are still navigating. When I’ve stopped and think about the moments, I’ve become overwhelmed and my wandering heart wants to run, but the only thing that has brought peace is to wait and to trust.

I’d love to say that this is my natural reaction, but I have literally had drown out my own thoughts with His Word and with worship. Truth be told, for the first time ever I spent the month of November wondering what December would bring. Wishing Christmas away.

But my God is faithful, even when I am not, and through the traditions that I started for my family in better years, Jesus has met me so tenderly with his reassuring presence. 2018, more than ever before, has brought a December where I have desperately needed Advent. To slow down. To remember and await His coming.

This month I’ve been reading the story of Jesus’ lineage to my class and my own children, and with tears in my eyes I’ve remembered that the characters and their situations – like mine, and like yours — leading to the birth of Christ, were far from perfect. You wouldn’t think that the Savior of the World would come from such a family tree.

 Adam and Eve who deliberately disobeyed.

Abraham who didn’t trust and took a mistress.

Isaac who favored.

Jacob who deceived.

Joseph who boasted, was enslaved, and imprisoned.

Moses who murdered.

Ruth who was an outsider.

David who had an affair and tried to hide it by hiring a hit-man.

Mary who found herself, pregnant with a story no one would believe, and yet about Jesus’ birth we sing, Noel.

NOEL

There are many different theories about the origin of this advent word, but my favorite will forever be this – now all is well. That is what the hope of Christmas is … that infused into any situation you may face is the God of the universe breathing Noel:

Because I am Emanuel.

I am here.

I am with you, and I am for you.

I am God over any fear you face.

God above the overwhelming odds set against you.

From the time of Noah – I am God over the storm, whether in creation or in your mind.

I am the Prince of Peace, and I am here to breathe it into the mess of your life.

I am the antidote to your anxiety.

Now all is well.

When I think of sweet Mary, giving birth on the floor of a dirty stable, with not even a midwife to comfort or direct her, I have a hard time believing that she thought all was well. And yet she knew

“The baby in her womb, He was the Maker of the Moon

He was the Author of the faith

That could make the mountains move …”

(Peterson)

Wow! She had a lot to trust Him with and He trusted her with a lot. So, when I look at my set of circumstances … my less than perfect story; when I try to fix the ends that are hard and sharp; when I consider the unfinished stuff of this season and of our life, I can’t help but think of Mary, and her heart’s cry, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38, AMP). Mary didn’t know how God would work everything together for her good and for His glory, but she trusted Him explicitly with her life.

And that is what I am yielding myself to and resting in tonight. The stockings – or in our case boots – are lined by the chimney, the cinnamon rolls are rising, the roast is marinating, and the beds are filled with loved ones, evidence of His unmerited favor — the extravagant grace He bestowed on us in Bethlehem and continues to inundate us with daily.

Life will be filled with storms outside of my will or of my making, but He is in all, and over all. And just like He was with Mary and Joseph in the stable thousands of years ago, He is with me tonight. He was there – and He is here – to redeem, to reconcile, to restore that which was lost, to renew dreams, and refresh relationships. He is and ever will be the Creator God – a good, good Father who exists to make all things new, and because of Him, now all is well.

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