One concept that I'm continually, and right now powerfully reminded of, is the seasonal changes of life. We accept the change of seasons in nature. It doesn't seem unnatural that trees in part of the year have leaves, and then they lose them. It doesn't seem totally wrong that flowers appear and then die and there are none. We know they will come again, bloom again, buds and leaves will appear again one day. The change isn't permanent, but it is very real and it is in its proper time. The winter and Advent signify the coming of certain things. It is not time to harvest, it is time to wait and reflect. The harvest has ended, light and warmth die, barrenness happens and signs of life will not appear again until spring.
I feel the inevitability of the change of seasons in my own life. I'm not young any longer. I may have another 30 years upon the earth, but I know they lead to a certain end. Time grows short and every moment seems to possess more and more weight and significance. It is not time to waste precious minutes that can never be returned. The longing to make right decisions, see events and circumstances in the light of the coming eternity and know I've picked the correct path hangs over my days. I can't go back, I can't change anything-I can only make better choices in the future and use the time more wisely, being grateful I continue to have opportunity. And I see a greater Hand in this, even as my decisions perhaps are not the best, but I continue to strive to grow and change for the better. I continue to seek and hope to find fulfillment.
This is a season of celebration for many faiths. It marks the end of an age for Christianity and the fulfillment of an ancient promise. A King for all people was to be born on the earth, and many people waited for the advent of His coming. Christians celebrate the birth of Christ. There is not another time of the year that has the same burst of hope and quite the same feeling of joyful celebration. Christmas carols play in every manner of store and business, filling the air with a very old message-the message that God came to earth as a man. It is a spectacular story that is remembered in song in every style, but the message never goes out of style. It is embellished with myth, but the truth is so unbelievable the same lyrics ring out year after year the same message basically unchanged for a thousand years.
And the same thing happens year after year...people do not believe in a King that would come to them just for them. The message is obscured and lost in the shuffle of daily living. We just don't accept, like so many people of old, what God truly is. One Christmas carol says of the new born King, "Veiled in flesh the Godhead see, hail the Incarnate Diety, Pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus our Immanuel...". That is a lot of really big words that say basically, He's one of us. He's here. Earth is home to this King. The word Immanuel literally means, "God with us". Just think of it! God-with-us. His final promise to people after a short life on this Earth is, "I am with you always". He's still here with us. That hasn't changed in a thousand years.
As the seasons of my life play out, this truth reforms itself and God reveals Himself as Immanuel to me with every change. Some years are pure joy. Some are a great struggle. This past year I was sure that He was not there, or I was so far away from any real relationship that may as well have been the case. But the thing is, the promise remains the same. The truth never changes, not from God's perspective. And especially in the years of struggle, the Lord who is takes my hand has more scars on His. His countenance bears the weight of this life in my spiritual eyes. And the advent of His appearing is completely unpredictable...I see His appearing in a sketch given to a friend, in a simple line typed on the computer, in a backyard on a summer day-in people and places that I frequent daily. So often not in church or not when I'm ship shape inside and out. He was born in a place people of his day were used to. It didn't smell good and it wasn't warm. It wasn't a good day for a King to come into this world. And He left it in pretty bad shape as well. But that wasn't the end of the story or the end of time. When time is no more, He will still be our Immanuel, still here, still with us.
Have a blessed Christmas!