Friday, December 30, 2011

{God With Us. Still.}

I'm scrolling through the Christmas pictures, wishing it hadn't gone by so quickly. All of that excitement, all of the anticipation, all wrapped in that one glorious day. And now it's over.

At least, that's how I perceive it.

I mentioned this to a friend the other day. It's like planning for a wedding. The buildup and preparation are so intense and you can't wait for the big day to arrive. Then, all in a whirl, it's over and you wish that you could please, please have just a bit more.

The finality hit me on the way home from our celebration on Christmas night while listening to the radio. At midnight, on the dot, the Christmas songs ended. Michael W. Smith went out singing Emmanuel, and that was it. Like a slap in the face, 104.1 The Fish told me: "No more! No more Bing Crosby! No more Nat King Cole! It's done and over with! The End."

I was hopping mad. My cheek burned from the slap. I came up with a hundred reasons as to why they should keep on playing Christmas music just a little bit longer. My patient husband wisely nodded in agreement. We were still driving home! It was still Christmas! We still had visions of sugar plums dancing in our heads! But why should they listen to me? Christmas is over.

But is it really over? What if it's only the beginning?

When I let myself dwell on the wedding analogy for a bit, realization dawns like a fresh, new day: The wedding is the big event that leads to the rest of forever. It's not the day that matters. It's the life, the relationship, the commitment.

Isn't it the same for those of us who've gathered 'round the manger in hopeful anticipation all month long? He's here! He's come! He's with us! Emmanuel! And it's only the beginning.

Now comes the rest of forever: the life, the relationship, the commitment. Because of that one day, we can live all of the other days in a spirit of hope and joy and praise.

I glance more closely at one of the pictures from Christmas morning. The carpet is littered with wrapping paper, packaging and ribbons. The children are still in their pajamas, cheeks rosy, hair askew. They revel in their new treasures.

At first, all I can see is the mess. But then I look more closely. It starts to come into focus. Avery's little hands, busy at work. She's neatly arranging a table and chairs for her Playmobil friends. Amid the chaos, there's order, there's creativity, there's beauty. And it brings a calm to my spirit.

The transition away from Christmas can feel messy, chaotic, and, to be honest, downright depressing. But if we look closely, we see the order, the creativity and the beauty.

God is here. He is still at work. He did not come for just that one day. He came for so much more. And because of that, we have life, we have relationship. In Him we have everything that we've ever needed. He is with us, He is Emmanuel. And He always will be, whether or not Michael W. Smith is still singing it on the radio.
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