This year as Christmas drew near the less and less it felt like the magic of Christmas. It felt more like lead weights, dull and frustrating. The more I tried to muster up joy, the more tears I shed. Christmas day came, we opened presents, and we were immediately unsatisfied. The traditional acts of togetherness we usually bring into this particular day were not anywhere to be found.
We just did not have time. I worked later in the day, so we did not have our traditional cinnamon rolls, fudge, all day games or spending time together. I don’t know what shifted in my heart, but during my shift at the hotel, I heard a soft whisper. “Christmas is not only one day a year. Christ’s life has given us hope and joy 365 days a year and into eternity.
I immediately texted Mark and asked him if it would be ok if we had a Christmas redo the next day. He agreed, and when I got home, I snuck into each of the kid’s rooms to kiss them goodnight and let them know we would have a redo. The following day I woke up and joyfully greeted our kids with a “Merry Redo.”
Naomi and I went to work and made homemade monkey bread, scrambled eggs and bacon. We worked as a team to get the dishes done, then cuddled on the couch to watch a movie. Next came game playing. Chess, checkers, and twister were on our game playing menu. We enjoyed a leisurely and Mark’s favorite supper. Sub sandwiches with all of our favorite fixings.
It was during our dinner a profound moment happened for our whole family. We have not hidden Mark’s Lyme disease nor how hard our life is from our kids. In the beginning, I wanted to protect them, but God showed me they would not escape the pain. I could, however, ally them and give them encouraging truth about themselves and life.
We talked about how it is because of Christ’s birth, death, and resurrection that we can have hopeful redos. We can have confidence, forgiveness, love, joy; and peace will be found when Jesus is brought into the redo. It is the hope of 70 x 7 (Matthew 18:21-22). Jesus offered us a Christmas redo, but he also gives every human being on the planet an eternity redo. We all agreed we are thankful for all of the redos God has given us and it inspires us to do so in our relationships with others.
We also talked about the three Israelites King Nebuchadnezzar threw into the fiery furnace (Daniel 3: 16-20). When Meshack, Rashack, and Abednego were thrown into the fire, it was not three men those on the outside of inferno saw, but four.
Even though life is hard and often scary right now, I have tried to inspire our kids to grow more compassionate rather than becoming bitter and angry. I have also worked to encourage our whole family to function as a team to make our lives run as smoothly as possible. Through our functioning as a team, choosing compassion rather than bitterness, and continuing to take baby steps forward we are trusting the Lord with what appears to be insanity to us. My prayer is that in the middle of our furnace, those on the outside of our life will see seven people in our fiery furnace.
I pray those who have a relationship with the Lord will be inspired to pursue a deeper relationship with him and trust him in their darkest days. I pray those who do not know him personally will ask questions and begin a relationship with the God who turns the most mysterious of dark days away. The one who brings us joy, encouragement, and energy.
Lately, the most significant lesson I have learned is my joy and security is not found in praying more, working harder or anything involving physical or mental works on my part. It is purely and ultimately a gift God gives. It is when I rest, choose to have faith and trust that pure joy and peace abound. My works and praying are the outpourings and the overflow of my heart. They are what I do out of my deep love of the father.
A couple of weeks ago I got to the point where I had come to the end of my rope. I did not have any more strength to tie a knot on the end of the line, much less hold on. Mentally I dropped, and all felt and seemed hopeless. I sobbed out to the Lord, “I can’t do this.” My heart screamed in my head, “I can’t do this.” It was at this point my heavenly father looked lovingly at me and said, I have been waiting for you to let go. Holding on to the end of the rope is still me doing life on my strength. It is similar to Samson trusting in his hair. It wasn’t his hair that gave him power, it’s not the mustard I apply to live that gives me strength. It’s God that gives me what I need.
I cried out to the Lord and said I need you to hold me and care for me as genuinely as I care for my kids. I need you to hold me and carry me. To move on, I had to let go and trust God would catch me. He not only found me, but he has also continued to provide for us, continued to restore Mark and I’s struggling relationship. He has deepened our relationship with our kids.
The fiery furnace is hot. It draws tears, and it hurts, but it is also refining and pulling out the impurities. It is causing us to let go of more crap in our lives so we can become even freer. We are in the furnace, but we are not alone, there is seven in the furnace.