On the twelfth day of Christmas
my True Love gave to me
a multitude of answered prayers.
I am alone on this gorgeous Epiphany morning. The house is still at last. I made the final airport run yesterday, taking my grandson and youngest daughter to pick up Katherine and Jay at the Passion Conference in Atlanta, and then dropping everyone off at Hartsfield International.
The house has been a hotel with a revolving door ever since I returned to Georgia after Thanksgiving with James. A boisterous kettle of activity. Although we were never all together at the same time, this is the first day in over a month when someone hasn’t been here.
There’s a lot to do to now. More decorations to stuff back into too-tight spaces. Calls to return, appointments to be made, plans to be rearranged. Messes to be straightened out. But before entering the rat race of the new year, I take time to pause and reflect back on the holidays.
I’m hoping to have a little epiphany of my own this morning.
Looking back over the past month, I acknowledge that it wasn’t a totally easy-breezy kind of Christmas. (Is there such a thing?) But it was a good one.
A very, very good one.
In years past, some bad stuff’s gone down at Christmastime. I won’t go into details. Insert your own family’s Bad Stuff.
But this holiday season was blissfully uneventful. No trauma, no drama. No hospital visits. No tears. Well, almost none.
Conjuring ghosts of Bad Christmases of the past, I flip though my battered Bible. The Psalms, Isaiah, and Jeremiah are particularly littered with smeared ink. Some verses have been underlined so violently that the parchment is torn right through. Exclamation points decorate the margins. Arrows connect phrases on opposite sides of the pages.
Most revealing, however, are the dates. Even before our daughter Katherine’s brain explosion, there were some really rough years. Years where too much was happening too fast, and everything seemed to be falling apart. Years when we were tested in every way. Years when I began to question everything I’d believed about God.
But, somehow, with walls falling down around my ears, I clung to a stubborn, fragile faith (“I believe; help thou my unbelief…”) that God would not ultimately abandon me or my family.
And I would underline and date the promises that were made.
Evidently, 2005-2007 were very trying years.
So much has happened since then. Different urgencies have replaced the original reasons for those cries for help, signed and dated.
Reading them today, I feel a warm chill in my chest. A cool flame.
Some of you know what I mean by that, don’t you?
And I get my epiphany.
Instead of laying my gifts at His feet, He lays more out at mine.
Too many to hold.
I look and wonder.
healing, restoration, renewal,
I see fresh starts and new beginnings.
So many answered prayers.
I see every single promise kept.
Not in my time, not in my way,
BUT GOD DOES KEEP HIS PROMISES.
The gift of all gifts is a promise.
I marvel at the riches of His love,
the tenacity of His faithfulness.
When things were at a low point about 5 or 6 years ago, something possessed me to invest in a nice bottle of champagne. It was an act of deviance against the Forces of Evil. It was a tangible statement that although at the time, “the fig trees were withering” and all hell was breaking loose, I was choosing to believe that there would once again come a day of celebration.
We popped it open on New Year’s Eve this year.
Just a suggestion: If you resolve anything this year, resolve to spend more time studying the words of God.
When things are particularly awful, search for His promises, pray them, and date them. In ink.
“You have allowed me to suffer much hardship,
but you will restore me to life again
and lift me up from the depths of the earth.
You will restore me to even greater honor
and comfort me once again.”
“For I will fight those who fight you, and I will save your children.”
“Look and see, for everyone is coming home!
Your sons are coming from distant lands;
your little daughters will be carried home.
Your eyes will shine,
and your heart will thrill with joy…”