A Miracle Magical Christmas

Christmas is a time when it seems as though a magic wand has sprinkled pixie dust on the world and painted it with shimmering stars and sparkling lights. magical Christmas ornamentsThe snow appears to glisten more brightly. The tree shines with hundreds of tiny lights. Its fragrant arms hold an assortment of glitter-covered ornaments collected over the years – many of which were crafted with love by little fingers that once wrapped around ours as we counted the beautifully wrapped packages sitting under the wide-spread boughs. Even little cheeks are all aglow with the spirit of the season. But, while I paint a smile on my face and try to make it through the once anticipated festivities of the Christmas, I sometimes wish I could wave another magic wand that makes it just go away. The magical blanket that wraps the world in enchanting splendor hangs heavy on my shoulders and threatens to smother the Christmas spirit within me because after the loss of a child, Christmas is forever changed.

Christmas arrives without regard to grieving families. Before you have recovered from the contradictory emotions of grief and gratitude at Thanksgiving, the rest of the world eagerly ushers in Christmas with a pageantry unequal to any other earthly celebration. But, the fanfare haunts the bereaved. It is a struggle to drag out the boxes of décor that wait to deck the halls of the home with a missing face, an empty chair and a silent voice. The same boxes hold beautiful, yet painful memories of Christmases gone, never to return. HolidayGrief broken ornamentIrksome lights are waiting to be strung, but we would rather hide in the dark. Ornaments are waiting to be hung, but there are those you leave packed because the memories they trigger are just too tender to bear. Invitations to parties and events you don’t have the strength to attend flood the calendar. Our emotions dance and swirl like the snowflakes outside, beauty wrapped in bitter cold. The memories bring a dichotomy of sentiments which are becoming all too familiar in this process called a grief journey. That arduous trek of realizing your “new normal” – a term you are learning to hate!

What do we do with holiday that should be so special? How do we survive the fanfare? Once again we must be intentional in finding the hope. We must see Christmas through the eyes of a child, a baby king who was placed in a lowly manger – a humble cradle crafted from rough wood much like the wood that short years later would be crudely fashioned into a cross. At the foot of this cross sat a grieving mother not unlike myself. Mary had cradled her baby King in her arms. She had watched him grow and mature. She loved with an earthly love. She no doubt grieved as others mocked Him. And then, she wept as she watched her son, the innocent King of Kings, die that we might have hope.

During bedtime prayers many years ago when our son Taylor was about three, he prayed for healing for a family member who was quite ill. In the innocent faith that only a child possesses, He explained to me that God would take care of things because He was magic. As my skeptic mind began to spin with a way to explain to him that God wasn’t “magic,” Taylor added, “But it’s a special magic…a miracle magic.” I’ve come to love that description. It perfectly depicts our Lord. You see, Christmas isn’t about the fanfare or the decorations. It is, however, about a gift. Not one wrapped in fancy paper and tied with a matching bow, but a love gift from our Heavenly Father that was born to Earthly parents, swaddled in its own blanket of miracle magic and laid in a common manger. And the Christmas story is only the beginning. This miracle story leads on a journey to a cross and culminates with a risen Savior.

The story of Christmas represented by the birth of Jesus and his death on the cross.

I think that Christmas in heaven probably looks much different than the spectacle we have made it on earth. The halls of Heaven do not need to be decked, for they are always arrayed in splendor. There is no seasonal fanfare, for there is perpetual pomp and pageantry at the foot of the King. There is no need for carols, because everyone will be joining in one voice to sing praises to the Author of a story of “miracle magic.” A story that gives me hope in this ugly chapter of my earthly story because I know that I will one day shed my grief blanket and instead be wrapped not only in the embrace of my son, but in the embrace of God’s Son, the perfect gift.

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The Hiding Place

Grief. It is always there, lurking overhead like an ominous cloud that waits to drop its pelting rain upon us whether we are prepared or not. Sometimes the drops hit with such force that they seem to cut. They cause a pain that is physical and we want to recoil from their sting. On a “good day”, it is merely a perpetual mist that grounds us in fog. Either way, it saturates us. It is relentless. It shows no mercy.

Grief compels us to find shelter, a hiding place, from its determined force of driving rain and suffocating fog that threatens to overpower us. We want to hide from the grief as if by hiding you can escape its reality. You want to hide from others who have been able to go on with life while you remain forever changed and broken. You hide in public by avoiding others so that you won’t have to engage in conversation. You try to hide your emotions fearing that others will not understand how you can still hurt so deeply. You hide behind a smile while crying on the inside. You are constantly on the lookout for the nearest exit or other detour in an effort to circumvent grief’s next hazard. It is a constant struggle to run from hiding place to hiding place, shelter to shelter as we drudge through the daily storm.

These hiding places are often elusive and deceitful. In your frantic search for security and safety, you look to hide in the wrong places. Maybe you are hiding behind a fake smile. Maybe you are hiding behind a drug or alcohol in an effort to mask the pain. Maybe you are hiding behind a credit card, hoping that material things will somehow fill the void left in your fractured heart. Maybe your hiding place is busyness. Perhaps it is more tangible and you actually are hiding within the walls of your home because you are paralyzed by the thought of being in public.

In his book, “The Necessity of Prayer”, Edward M. Bounds recounts a story by A.C. Dixon.

“A dear friend of mine who was quite a lover of the chase, told me the following story: ‘Rising early one morning,’ he said, ‘I heard the baying of a score of deerhounds in pursuit of their quarry. Looking away to a broad, open field in front of me, I saw a young fawn making its way across, and giving signs, moreover, that its race was well-nigh run. Reaching the rails of the enclosure, it leaped over and crouched within ten feet from where I stood. A moment later two of the hounds came over, when the fawn ran in my direction and pushed its head between my legs. I lifted the little thing to my breast, and, swinging round and round, fought off the dogs. I felt, just then, that all the dogs in the West could not, and should not capture that fawn after its weakness had appealed to my strength.’ “

Deer-Fawn

What a beautiful illustration of our only true hiding place and refuge. When grief releases its dogs that tirelessly chase you, when it has weakened you to the point of exhaustion and you find yourself ready to succumb to its vicious reach, stretch out your hands in faith to the Shepherd Father. He will take you in His arms and fight the hounds of grief with you. When we are powerless, He is able

Scripture offers another comforting analogy.

“He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.” – Psalm 91:4

mother bird covering with wings

Birds will protect their young by literally covering them with their wings. The downy feathers of the under-wing provide warmth, comfort and repose, while rigid, vaned feathers offer a structual protection. Covert feathers cover the whole wing. The three types of feathers overlap like shingles on a roof to provide safekeeping. This is a picture of protection and love. Don’t mess with a mother’s babies! Our Heavenly Father longs to shelter us under His wing. His love is even greater than a mother’s. He willingly laid down His life for us and He continues to call us to the ever-available security of His powerful wing.

“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” – Isaiah 40:29-31

The same wing that provides a safe hiding place also promises to renew our strength. I can’t think of a better comfort to my weary, grief-worn body and soul than the promise of renewed strength!

There is no hiding place from grief. Its hungry dogs will pursue you. Its acidic rain will pelt you. It’s dense fog will envelop you. But, there is a steadfast place of protection and safety. Christ calls you to find sanctuary under His wing. He will be your strength to fight the hounds. He will be your covering while the rain falls. He is our refuge…our shelter…our hiding place.

swan covering young with wing

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