“Do not be in dread, for I am with you. Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”
How do we pick up and begin again? This annual dance in which we participate, marked with seasons, school calendars, anticipated beach trips, families gathered, and carols offered up? We willingly engage Advent, or try to, on whatever level we can summon. Whether distracted or happy, grieving or at peace, we let it do its work of wonder on us. And then it ends, and we look out over a winter.
We are asked to begin another year during winter, not during spring. God must think more of our courage than I do. It takes deep faith to pack up Christmas decorations and believe the Light is still with us. It takes a light heart to accept the cold and gray. This year I have realized that I find the December sky the loveliest of the entire year, leading up to December 25th. After Christmas day, the same winter sky remains, pale and quiet against branches. It’s the exact same sky that soothed some deep longing earlier last week; I just do not often receive its light after Advent.
Winter can be hard to receive; it feels more like a fist than a gift. Yet it isn’t the cold, or the ending of this painful football season, or the anxious anticipation of a new presidency that tempts me to hunker down. I have been open and receptive, waiting on a good Gift, and then something inside me clamps down and concludes I better pull myself forward and begin trudging toward January. Toward goals, toward it being different this time, toward doing better. Was I not just a child, welcoming a child King? A child, willing to wait, on something I believed was surely coming?
I want to believe this time that I am not expected to conjure up courage, deep faith, or even a light heart as I look at 2017. I want to remember the openness of November and December. The courage and faith that I need in order not to hunker down and walk into the cold wind are secured on the shoulders of the Shepherd, and I am secured there too. He sees me this late December, and He will see to it. He sees you this late December, and He will see to it.
We could each begin to scan the next few months for disappointment and danger. We could begin to perform mental gymnastics as to how to get through what we believe we will need to get through. This will always justify our orphan bracing. Or, we could ask for help with our unbelief, our cynicism, our weariness. We could begin to move through one day at a time, only, counting on mercy to carry and help us from one end of the day to the other.
Mercy was so deeply moved at our estrangement, our dysfunction, and our need that He left His home to live with us. Our situations are still precious to Him, individually and globally. He is still moved, and He will move. The cold will recede to warmth, spring growth, summer heat, and autumn brilliance again, God willing. Lord, make us willing to enter what is in front of us, willing to expect and receive Your love and provision.
Meredith joined The Barnabas Center staff in January 2009, upon completing her Masters in Counseling from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and her Bachelors in Religion and Psychology from Furman University. She counsels, leads women’s groups and teaches a seminar called “Hope in the Darkness” for those walking with individuals suffering from depression or bipolar disorder.
This is so lovely. An apt description of the angst of January and the need to remember the expectancy of December. I want to live in that place of hopeful waiting, not anxious striving. Thank you for sharing this, Meredith.
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