I’ve noticed the Christmas lights are more, bigger and brighter this year. Houses that usually have Christmas light decorations seem to have more than in years past and homes that are usually more subdued in their displays have lights strung from every corner. Perhaps after such a metaphorically dark year, people are looking for ways to bring in the light.
Growing up, one of my favorite Christmas TV specials was How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966) by Dr. Seuss. Back in my day, we couldn’t stream or even record. It came on once a year and you either set aside the time to watch it when it was on, or you missed it. In any case, I’ve been thinking about that Grinch lately. He hated Christmas with all its celebrations. He hated the noise of ringing bells. He hated the feasting on the roast beast. But more than anything, he hated the singing! And because he couldn’t take the thought of it one more year, he decided he must stop the whole thing!
The plot thickens as the Grinch goes about stealing Christmas, absconding with all the Christmas decorations and presents and food. Then it’s with relish that the Grinch waits on Christmas morning for the Whos down in Who-Ville to discover the theft and mourn the loss of Christmas. Of course, we know what happens. Despite all accoutrements of Christmas having been taken, the Grinch, instead of hearing the Whos wailing their despair, hears them singing their joy at the coming of Christmas morning. It turns out, the Grinch couldn’t steal Christmas.
That’s what I’ve seen as I’ve driven through neighborhoods after dark. Despite pandemics and shutdowns, fear and death, a deep national divide, and a million other struggles and trials suffered on the individual level, Christmas will come and we – especially those of us in Christ - will rejoice.
We’ll rejoice that “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5)
With every Christmas light I see, I’m reminded of this Truth.
In July, our family received the news that David was being sent overseas for a year…quite a surprise to us, and definitely something that was not on our radar. He was gone by the beginning of August.
Those first 24 hours after receiving the news were filled with such a range of emotions and thoughts. As a family, separation and deployments aren’t foreign to us, but this was definitely not our preference. Yet, after we received the news, the Peace that God concluded the first long night with was steady, mysterious, solid. “This is of Me.”
As the next four weeks of preparation unfolded, one fear stood out above the others: I was so afraid that I wouldn’t have the Lord’s joy this year. So much of God’s daily gift of joy to me comes from living life with David. I was afraid of a prevailing sadness and heaviness, which not only would have affected me, but our three kids as well. I told the Lord, “You are just going to have to give me MORE of Yourself.” I so wanted to still be able to be joyful; to be able to worship.
The first six weeks certainly had ups and downs as we adjusted to our new normal for this year. Friends here at PCC prayed compassionately and faithfully. And God answered my fear with joy - a steady undercurrent of joy -these last four months, not just for myself, but also for the kids. And it’s not because I am so neat, but because my God is so faithful.
He is Faithful. Much is unknown, unpredictable, this year. But God is Faithful. I have Hope, not because I can see how everything is going to work out, but because I know His Name is Faithful and True.
Anna Staton serves in KidzMin and on the Greeting Team. She and her husband David have three children and have moved 13 times in the last 17 years.
Now that you have been praying over your oikos (if you don’t know what an oikos is, check out the blog below) consider the person that comes to your mind a lot or you’ve had contact with recently. Who is God putting on your heart or in your path? The next time you talk to this person, find out what they are struggling with. What is causing them to be anxious, stressed, or tired? After you find out, utter this sentence, “Can I pray for you?“ Hopefully, they will tell you yes. Many people do. But you could also suggest something like “Can I pray for your family’s health?” Then pray for them right away, in front of them, out loud. Relax and let the Holy Spirit give you the good words that the person needs to hear.
I’ve seen the most hardened hearts open to earnest prayer for their concerns. Once, after a friend and I asked someone if we could pray for them, they angrily replied that we could pray for a political controversy. My friend misunderstood the person’s request and prayed for the wrong thing! I just watched the whole situation and wasn’t sure what to do. After my friend finished the prayer, I was so surprised to see the person’s face softened and thankful for the attempt at prayer. Although it was the “wrong” prayer, he heard love and care expressed.
So please don’t be afraid to pray at the moment, out loud, for someone else. We know God works through prayer. Next time I’ll share something with which to follow up your prayer.
Mary David is the pseudonym for a global worker from PCC. She enjoys spending time with her family, sharing the Gospel, and watching God work.