A Very 2020 Christmas Break

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

Revelation 1:8

Today is officially the first day of Christmas break for my people and me. But for us, it started a bit early this year.

Thanks, COVID-19.

That’s right. Yours truly has been in quarantine since Tuesday when I went for my COVID test. It was positive, and my last week of school suddenly became my first week of break.

I only felt glued-to-my-bed lousy for a couple of days, though my brain seems to have decided it wanted no part of the diagnosis and vacated for warmer (or perhaps healthier) climes. It took my energy with it, too. Stinkin’ deserters.

The worst of it has been my guilt at realizing what I thought were issues caused by extra coffee the day before my test were actually early COVID symptoms. And the most annoying symptom so far is the exposure of my ultimate parenting fail: When I emerged from my bed for the first time, I discovered my husband had been doing all the dishes while my girls did… whatever it is teenage girls do.

But evidently they were very busy with it, assuring me that they did “lots of cleaning” – which I can only assume was done at a neighbor’s house since my own shows a scandalous lack of either cleanliness or order.

Even though the illness tossed a pipe bomb into my plans for last week (not to mention shattered any illusions I may have still clung to that my girls were responsible, capable young adults), I’m not upset.

Oh I admit, I did look forward to my final devotional with my students. I had hoped to make some homemade chocolate-dipped strawberry marshmallows to share with the staff, and I did really want to celebrate my official entrance into menopause with a treat made by my favorite Magical Baking Fairy But I really can’t complain.

After all, this is Advent – the time of year when (I hope) we all look forward to the future arrival of Jesus while celebrating His first.

In the face of what He did for me the first time around, I can really only feel gratitude and sorrow. Gratitude for what He gave for me; sorrow for how little I give Him in return. But mostly, I feel joy. Joy for the privilege of knowing Him; joy for the promise of eternity to get to know Him more.

As I contemplate both Advents, I can’t help but think of my own arrival at the end of this race, whenever it may be. When I think of the great day when I will officially enter into eternity with God, all other celebrations pale in comparison. I pray it is the same for you.

Merry Christmas!

Unmasked

Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.

2 Timothy 2:3-4

Here’s a bit of irony for you: the issue of whether or not to wear a mask has unmasked a disturbing dereliction of duty within the Church.

If only the problem were confined to small bits of cloth…

But it isn’t. Every time I browse social media, a heaviness invades my heart.

So much of my feed brims with frustration. So many responses are subtly, or even overtly, hostile. So many opinions flung into virtual print seethe with smugness and accusation but lack verifiable data.

It’s sad to see the bickering in the secular world, but it’s appalling to see it within the Body of Christ. It’s as if we’ve forgotten who our enemy is.

Our enemy is not the lady asking you to please put on a mask in the grocery entryway, nor is it the man walking around without one.

Politicians, political parties, billion dollar industries, liberals, conservatives, illnesses, treatments, “THEM” – none of these are our enemies. And none will be our savior.

In truth, all the issues causing us distress and mouth-foaming rage are temporary. Transient. A vapor soon dispersed by the wind.

For those of us who are in Christ, the time we spend here is not a matter of rights or politics or safety. It’s a matter of eternal life or death.

Brothers and sisters, the hour is growing late. We are ambassadors for the King, and it’s imperative we remember what this means.

And if I may be frank, getting caught up in the swirling digital babble clamoring over politics and masks and disease numbers and the maelstrom of controversy does not point the hurting, sin-weary heart to Christ.

We are called to share in suffering, not dodge it. We willingly sacrifice all else in order to proclaim forgiveness of sin through the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

If we are in Christ, our allegiance is not to any worldly agenda. It is to God’s agenda, and it we take it up at any cost to ourselves. A quick glance through the pages of Scripture yields several examples.

Jeremiah endured public ridicule and imprisonment, but not for his rights – for the Word of God. And he did it after God told him no one would listen.

Hosea did not place his right to a happy and satisfying marriage over his obedience to God’s command to marry an unfaithful prostitute. The command of God superseded his rights and he knew it. And acted on it.

Ezekiel did not spend over a year lying on his left side and eating bread baked over a poop fire because it brought him joy. He did it for the Lord.

Paul did not suffer persecution, torture, and chains by standing up for his earthly freedoms. He, too, did it for the honor of serving the Lord.

They knew what today’s Church seems to have forgotten. This world is dark, broken, horrible. Bad things will happen. And yes, we will lose rights and freedoms; we will be persecuted. We will suffer harm.

But if we belong to Christ, we will not be overcome so long as we remain faithful to Him and His calling on our lives. But we must have a willingness to share in suffering as good soldiers.

The enemy is not out there, fudging numbers and plotting to cover the faces of the globe with cloth. The true enemy works intimately, stirring up our pride; our selfishness; our sin.

Mine. Yours.

And he is gloating over our distraction from our primary purpose as ambassadors for the Kingdom of God. Let’s no longer give him the satisfaction.

See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, 
but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. 
Rejoice always, 
pray without ceasing, 
give thanks in all circumstances; 
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 
Do not quench the Spirit. 
Do not despise prophecies, but test everything;
hold fast what is good. 
Abstain from every form of evil. 
Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, 
and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 
He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.
1 Thessalonians 5:15-24