I taught my son to shave yesterday. I can’t believe I just typed that, much less actually handed him the razor. But I did, in a quiet, low-key ceremony without pomp, I handed him the razor. And now my mind seems to be stuck in slow motion, as if to rebel against some perceived speed infraction of life traveling by.
“Slow down life!” No response. Mist, indeed.
I gaze deliberately around my mind’s corners and see years stacking up like yellowing newspapers towering on a hoarder’s kitchen table. My eye pauses and strains to see wrinkled headlines of memories past. There’s one. It’s the time when Abbigail cut her own hair, hid the evidence, and with a poker face that would have caused the biggest, Vegas high-roller to squirm with envy said, “I did not cut my hair and put it behind the couch.” A smile.
There’s another. One of many tea parties with Emily no doubt, filled with high-pitched, but awesome British-ish accents, invisible crumpets, and names like Misses Dinglehoffer and Mr. Farggennewton. She starts college in the fall.
The problems of then seem so much smaller than the problems of now.
Images flash on. The happy scenes are many, but the trials seem no less vivid. Life can be hard on this groaning ball. There’s real pain here – big, bold pain that brings the gears of life to a screeching halt. Tears. Then the gears turn again, slower than before but gaining speed now. Normalcy, but not really.
God says it’s never meaningless. Questions remain.
We’re here, and then we’re not. Blink, it’s gone. So what do we do? Make mud pies and hope for the best? I’ll pass. I want more, I want to give myself to joy. If joy won’t have me at the moment, if the inn is full, I’ll suffer meaningfully. May it be so, Lord.
Christ reigns. He decides, not me.
I want Him to have all of me. And snippets like yesterday, when I pause and struggle to find my bearing because time seems to be winning, I want north to be Christ. Always, eternally focused. I want to spend my life experiencing the awkwardness of being in the world, but not of the world. Homeless, but homeward-bound.
My story… my mist, is part of His story. And His story is one of glory and grace, mercy and meaning. That’s the mast I’m nailing my colors to. The joy I’m after lies in His story and is of the all-sufficient, deep, abiding type. No cheap thrills, no emotional highs, no shallow platitudes…
…Joy that can break in on a small bathroom, as a father hands his son a razor for the first time, and sadness lurks near. Yep…
I did, I handed him the razor. A smile.
As the lights of Christmas trees begin to glow and wish lists are being finalized, the lure of materialism grows. “Newer, faster, bigger, better!” It’s a daring tactic by the enemy to flaunt his earthly wares at a time when Christians celebrate the arrival of our Savior–the very Savior who came to die, that we might die to worldliness. So it is appropriate that we not let our guard down this season (or any other time of the year for that matter).
The world’s offerings are but empty boxes of rust and dirt compared to what we have been given in Christ. Seeking fulfillment in and through these things is like straining to quench a dying thirst from a bone-dry, dusty, cracked flowerpot. Keeping us distracted and hurried, even with activities that in and of themselves can be good, edifying, and joy-filled, is the world’s aim. But anything that takes our hearts and minds away from experiencing the all-satisfying joy that is to be found in Christ alone means we settle for less than what God intends.
So let us enjoy the blessings we’ve been given this Christmas. Let us be thankful for God’s kindness in our lives. Let us appreciate family and friends being together in this busy world. Let us even give gifts in honor of the great gift we’ve been given. But let us do all of these things, being ever mindful of what this “holiday” is truly about.
Christ came. He died. He rose again. He fulfilled God’s plan of redemption. And He will, one day, come again.
He is our hope–He is our joy–He is our peace. He is Immanuel–God with us.