Monday, December 15, 2008

Frozen Fingers

This morning I drove out to some friends' house (who have been out of town) to feed their animals, and was greeted by freezing temperature and a cold wind. I hurried to feed the goat, sheep, chickens, chicks, and dog, having to break the ice in their water containers, and hauling water from the house because of the frozen pipes outside. I often long for a farm and critters of my own... but I seem to forget about this side of chores. I felt like whining like a little kid about my stiff and throbbing fingers, they hurt so badly from the cold! My fingers still ache, twelve hours later.

Over the past few years, I've noticed something strange. I love this season, this month of December, but I find myself wishing the day itself would not come. It's always disappointing. Christ is born, yes, for which I rejoice! But the pain remains. The waiting is what tears my heart, and draws me to a glorious hope, fulfilled in part, but still waiting. "Rejoice, rejoice, Immanuel has come to thee, O Israel!" If Christmas is a time of hope, we still wait for something not yet here, and we will keep waiting after the presents are opened and forgotten.

It seems fitting to celebrate our hope in the cold and dying year.

Lately I've felt keenly my failings, my sin, my stubborn refusal to grow and mature. Like the silly guinea, shrieking, running against the chicken wire and the corner of the barn as if it could sqeeze through a hole two inches wide. As if it were a camel desperate to fit through that needle's eye. Foolish and rebellious enough to think everything's against it.

Left to myself, I run the wrong way constantly, going from one wrong extreme to the other, driving myself into desperation and constant worry. Fear drives out hope, hope for the husband and family of my own I long for, hope to have the character of a noble, wise, godly woman, hope to make a difference for eternity in at least one life. Left to myself, I wander off into mindless distractions. Left to myself, I am alone and dying

But now, in the cold darkening nights, remember! In the shock of cold, in the bitter pain of frozen fingers, remember! In the selfishness and grasping around me, which creeps into my heart and leaves only loneliness, remember! Remember that into the humblest of families, in the lowest of places, the God of the universe came down as Man. The Word came in humility to whisper in my ear, "You are not alone."

My Maker knows, and sees. And He did not leave me to freeze into stone forever. The change is started, and the pain only proclaims it. His death rescued me from Hell, His life rescues me even now from my sinful flesh. He left, but will come again. And with that final coming, neither fingers nor heart will ever freeze again.
Look up, you whose eyes are fixed on this earth, you who are captivated by the events and changes on the surface of this earth. Look up, you who turned away from heaven to this ground because you had become disillusioned. Look up, you whose eyes are laden with tears, you who mourn the loss all that the earth has snatched away. Look up, you who cannot lift your eyes because you are so laden with guilt.
“Look up, your redemption is drawing near.”

Something different than you see daily, something more important, something infinitely greater and more powerful is taking place. Become aware of it, be on your guard, wait a short while longer, wait and something new will overtake you! God will come, Jesus will take possession of you and you will be a redeemed people!

Lift up your heads, you army of the afflicted, the humbled, the discouraged, you defeated army with bowed heads. The battle is not lost, the victory is yours—take courage, be strong! There is no room here for shaking your heads and doubting, because Christ is coming.
~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer ~

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