Friday, December 23, 2011

Together, But Not Complete

Isaiah is home for a few weeks between semesters. It's exciting for him to be almost done college and it's fun to have him home, but it's not the same without Josiah. It's amazing how much one person can add to the fun. Late night Catan games with the older boys can't happen very well because there's only 2 people to play. Some of the younger kids sometimes play, but they can't endure the sleep deprivation as easily as the older boys so the late night games happen less often.

The other kids try to fill in most of the gaps left by Josiah who was a big fan of games, parties, films, and good food. Zachariah does his best to make sure good food is on hand and likes films nearly as much as Isaiah. Londa helps decorate and makes parties and games more fun when she's around. The younger kids also help make games more enjoyable, but it's still not the same.

This may be the first Christmas when the whole family cannot be together. Isaiah has been able to come back from college for Christmas all 3 years so Christmas has always been a time of family togetherness.

Thanksgiving has always been the extended family get-together which is greatly looked forward to by all, but Christmas for our family has been a chance to stay home and enjoy just our family. There's something precious about being all together as an immediate family and enjoying a special holiday. So any member who is absent is felt even more strongly at Christmas.

However, they say absence makes the heart grow fonder. This is certainly a time of mutual appreciation for what Josiah is to our family and what our family is to Josiah. Surely God is working good through this time of sadness for both parties.

Not to make too much of our own grief, however. So many around us are missing family members who either do not know Christ or have recently gone to be with him. Our sadness is mixed with joy because we both know we will see each other again, and most likely within a matter of months. We can still video chat Josiah and we are also strongly connected by our common Spirit dwelling in both of us.

Sometimes I wonder if God blesses us in the face of the tragedy of others just so that we can be overwhelmed with our own unworthiness. Why should we be blessed with a healthy family that all love God, especially when so many others who seem to deserve it much more don't get it? As much as we might want to sympathize with others in their misery, we must not let that get in the way of appreciating God's gifts. So we grieve with others in their sadness, and are floored by the absolute, unconditional love of our Father and our own unworthiness of his blessings. We don't envy the blessings of others, but we don't envy the trials either. Like children who know their Father is perfect we thank our him for his blessings, and ask him to be near to those who are hurting.

For now we are content to be together. Together with those around us, and with our God. Yet, we still long for completeness. The day when our own salvation will be complete, and when our number as God's children will be complete. When all the saints of all the ages can really celebrate Christmas together…forever! Until then…together, but not complete…

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

another year has gone by

In the hectic craziness of the holiday season, as we scatter in a million directions to do a million different things, and try our best to do something a wee bit productive in-between times, there is also the constant remembering the year is coming to an end. "Can you believe it's been just one year since last Christmas?" Remember when we did this last year on Christmas Eve?" We reminisce and smile and laugh because the memories are happy ones, but deeper inside us, clinging under our skin is the overwhelming ache of nostalgia that comes so regularly, this time, every year, as we close another year of our lives, and resolve to do better in the next one. The year has flown like never before–they just go faster and faster, don't they?

Strange how it is easy to be sad this time of year; the memories flood us and our first reaction is sorrow that things can never be the same again. This Christmas will be our first incomplete one–without Josiah. The pain of growing up and the separation that happens with it is heightened during these holidays which are to be happy, are they not?

But we will not let our hearts grow accustomed to the sadness, because of the hope that has been given us. "There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind," and we still believe the best is yet to come.