Wham! The mail slot on the front door creaked open, then snapped shut, the mail pushed through onto the floor. As I bent down to gather it, I noticed two card-shaped envelopes and I smiled as I retrieved them from the floor. I love cards, any cards, but Christmas invites a distinct opportunity to hear from many in a more personal way – photos of new grandkids, babies and dogs wearing antlers or Santa hats, and who gets tired of Christmas lights?
I carried the mail over to the kitchen table, then turned the two cards over. The first was from the Barnstable County Courthouse. They were thanking me, along with the police department, for speaking at the 2nd Annual Survivor of Homicide Victims Event, held just two weeks ago. Then I turned the next one over. It was a Christmas card from a Massachusetts state prison. I recognized the name at once. It was the murderer.
As my eyes moved from one envelope to the other, I knew it was a Kairos moment, a glimpse into something sacred and holy. Homicide. Murder. These words used to slam me in the chest, taking my breath away. The dark and violent horror that haunted me daily for so long can still throw me off balance. Now, I sensed God very near. I smiled. Yes, I thought, only You can do this. Bring cops and killers through the same heart. A heart I brought to Him almost 21 years ago, hopelessly smashed beyond repair. Paralyzed with shock, my brain was clumsy and slow, tripping over my new reality. So I did the only thing I knew to do. I forgave. I didn’t even know who or why. I just knew I had to because Jesus did that for me. It was not difficult. When the bargaining table is swept clean, the next step is clear. God won’t cut a deal or take a bribe. He wants us to trust Him. And He wants all, not just a spiritual genuflect. Maybe I would’ve thought it through but I simply couldn’t think. Sometimes that’s good.
What this God of ours has wrought through that small act of obedience and a busted heart is astounding and beyond words. It’s as mysterious and sacred as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords stepping onto our crazy planet through a smelly cold barn, His angels heralding a bunch of tired and dirty shepherds. Eternity turned on its hinge. Behind the silent night, a party was going on, and it broke right through the black cover of night. It seemed impossible. Emmanuel – “God with us.” Here? In a feeding trough? At dinner with a tax collector? At a well with a Samaritan woman in broad daylight – especially HER! How many husbands? And here – hanging on a cross! Murder. “Forgive them, Father.”
There were small human acts of obedience – Mary, Joseph, shepherds, fishermen. It did not seem glorious at the time. But the “seeming” part we leave to the Master Planner. That‘s the trust part. Ours is to say Yes, then wait.
Two cards, together carrying the weight of our Lord’s words.
“Love your enemy.”
“For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”
“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” – Jesus
A paradigm collision. Take up my cross? Lose my life? This doesn’t sound at all like Your Best Life Now.
I think of the wonder and awe of that night. It would seem like this whole plan was doomed! No room at the inn? And what a motley mix of characters! Kind of like you and me. Yet the hand of almighty God put His finger on each heart, tapping them, moving them into place, setting the stage for the most historic event this world has known. Divine power intertwined with the fragile and faithless will of man.
Dear friend, what about you? What holds you in the shadows? What dime-store trinket do you clutch, while the Creator of the universe holds the life you were made for in His hands?
“Lose my life to find it?” Exactly. It will be just what you’ve been looking for.
When I was a little girl, I’d stare at the small figures crowded into the cardboard creche that my parents bought at Woolworths. Something was…off. Shepherds, exotic kings, an angel – all hanging out in a barn with a baby? But even then God was leaning over me. LOOK. Just see what I can do! He knew that 60 years down the road I’d be holding two cards and staring at them in wonder. Sometimes I feel like God is looking over my shoulder and directing my vision. Not to the seen, but the unseen. Look!
It was a dark time for Israel the night that Jesus was born. They had been waiting for a Savior, a Rescuer. And waiting. Hope wanes, expectation slides into doubt.
“Maybe I was crazy for thinking there was more.”
Then a light so magnificent, so indescribable! But you could miss it if you were looking in the wrong place. God’s glory is like that.
I can’t do any of this crazy other-worldly stuff on my own. There’s no hallelujah choir when I say YES. Not that I can hear anyway. But God is near, and He hears. He is right here with us.
So unfold your little fingers and hand it all over to God. He has a gift waiting for you and it cost Him a lot. Extravagant. Everlasting. Oh the wonders of His love!
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5
Merry Christmas and a wondrous New Year!