I confess I have not been inspired to write for three months. Perhaps it comes with spending so much time listening to and engaging with so many other people’s stories. Listening and “feeling” with others takes much mental and emotional energy – energy I love to give and grow from, so this is not a complaint. I also confess I struggle with putting my thoughts to the written word because, seriously, what do I have to offer the magnitude of blog traffic out there?
There has so much going on that has kept me in a prayerful stance – U.S. elections, trouble and suffering in the Middle East, loved ones battling ill health, anxiety and change. But there also have been joyful activities like travel to the Ukraine and Thanksgiving with my daughter and her growing family in Kentucky – expecting number five in May.
Ever since the kids left home, I have come to embrace a more contemplative Christmas. A time to cozy up near a warm fire, the light of the Christmas tree and the smell of candles burning. I did the hustle and bustle of Christmas for many years and now I am blessed to rebel against it – besides, my slowly aging body could not keep up that pace anymore – it is a divine mercy. We also enjoy celebrating our anniversary – 36 years tomorrow and Steve’s birthday on the 28th. A rich month. We usually have an “adoptee” with us over the holidays, but this time she comes after Christmas. So even more space has been granted to ponder the wonder of Christmas and Emmanuel – God with us.
What called me from the cave out into the open, you may ask? It was the British contextual Christmas devotional titled: Pilgrims to the Manger, exploring the wonder of God with us by Naomi Starkey. Taking this book off the shelf as soon as I got home from Kentucky helped me with my own re-entry back into the culture I have now lived for almost seven years. The passage was from Mark 10:17-30. It is the account of Jesus’ encounter with the rich young man wanting eternal life. Read excerpts of it with me…
The Rich Man
17 As Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
21 Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22 At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.
23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God!”
28 Then Peter began to speak up. “We’ve given up everything to follow you,” he said.
29 “Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property, for my sake and for the Good News, 30 will receive now in return a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and property—along with persecution. And in the world to come that person will have eternal life.
What stirs in your hearts when reading this passage? Truly, most people reading my words are in the rich category. How do I define rich? If we have choices, we are rich. But this aspect of the story is not what struck me…it was Jesus’ response to Peter…read again verse 29-30 above.
The Summer of 2017 will mark my husband and my 20th year mark since selling our nice Colorado dream family home and moving away from our loving family, friends and supportive churches. More than half of these years have also separated us from our children and now our grandchildren geographically. Since leaving we have only moved five times – much fewer than most missionaries or cross-cultural workers- something I thank God for as He knows I love to minister out of my space.
There are times when the ache of separation takes over, but mostly, I thank God for all the people, places, and supportive communities we have had the blessing to be loved by and to love on. Our lives are so much richer for it. I pray that those who have been “adopted” into our family and hearts read this knowing that you have been a part of God’s promised blessing. You have comforted us when we have felt misunderstood and given us a sense of belonging even though we are “those Americans”.
Living under God’s economy and led by His calling has made it easier to relinquish when He calls us to give up something. He owns everything anyway – our lives, our stuff, and our plans. He is the Good Shepherd. He has been faithful and He has been Emmanuel – God with us through every tearful goodbye and every joyful hello.
So with that, I wish you all a Merry Christmas praying you experience that encounter with God as Emmanuel piercing through the busyness, or loneliness, or physical pain… discovering comfort that heals, calms, and reminds you that you are loved and treasured. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) Now that is something to celebrate!
He has set eternity in our hearts! There is joy now and more to come…
P.S. – I especially love my combination tea at this time of year – Good Earth Tea blend with regular British Black tea with some warm milk…yummy! And listening to the gentle tinkle of this family treasure candle set.