Merry CHRISTmas!

I’ve been thinking a lot about Christmas lately. How busy and commercial it has become. Our calendar is full with events others have planned for us, work parties, school parties, fund raisers, festive dinners and programs. They fill up the calendar and keep us so busy, we barely have time to get all the presents purchased for the gift exchanges and all the food prepared for the potlucks let alone contemplate the true reason for the season!

In the midst of all these events, we managed to carve out a few hours on two separate days to assemble and decorate the tree. (A task I am not sure I will continue after the girls are grown. ) At first, I thought I might be becoming cynical. But after much introspection, I realized that instead of being cynical, I am longing to focus on the original reason for celebrating Christmas. While we were out the other day we saw a beautifully hand carved nativity scene. I was captivated by it. Now that is a Christmas decoration which I can get excited about! Perhaps, I’ll start collecting Nativity scenes and put them up instead of the tree. But the truth be known, after these precious girls grow up, I will probably sentimentally place every ornament haphazardly on the tree, in remembrance of when they were little and decorated it.

So, Christmas is on its way and is being ushered in by all sorts of festivities, merriment and even obligations. As it nears, I struggle not to allow the true reason for the season’s celebration to get trampled by Santa’s reindeer and left behind, unnoticed. I heard that instead of calling it Christmas Vacation, that some schools, are calling it, “holiday” vacation or even “winter” break in attempts to become politically correct. But to this I shout a resounding “NO!” This is our season, this is our holiday. CHRISTmas, the celebration of Christ’s Birth. So this year, you will not see me wearing a Santa’s hat and boasting Happy Holidays. Instead I choose to remember…..

Jesus the Light of the World, humbled himself and became a baby, lived an obedient life and laid down that life to pay the price for our sins. Now that is true reason to celebrate!

Merry CHRISTmas!

The Water’s Edge

The rain was pouring, the river overflowing its banks, its current strong and as it reached the mouth, the ocean waves were ferocious. I saw a man trying to cross that powerful current with his bicycle in tow. He was trudging toward me; the water, to his chest. I wondered if he would make it across or be carried into the sea. Thankfully he made it and I stood in disbelief, surprised that both he and his bicycle were on dry land. A while later I met a woman selling bread. After she told me she was from Triunfo de Cruz, I knew that her town was on the other side of the river. I didn’t expect her to head towards the water’s edge. She walked on the beach close to the shore and began to gather her dress close around her knees. She balanced the basket of bread on her head and then carefully bent down to pick up her flip flops. Step by step she entered the water; ankle, calf, knee, hip….NECK! With a 180 degree spin she quickly returned to shore. She would have to wait until later to cross the water or perhaps take another route home.

Later that day I had my own experience at the water’s edge.

Walking down the road, I came to a halt and contemplated what was ahead. Black water covered the road! Oh how I didn’t want to wade through that murky mess. The question of whether or not to cross the water had been answered in my mind long before today. In fact, I had made up my mind years ago…the first time I was here, that I would do what was required of me. Even so, the first thought that I had after seeing the water was….snakes! And my second thought was…..leeches! Pushing my fears out of my mind, I watched as one by one others began to removed their shoes, preparing to cross. I said a quick prayer: “Thank you Lord for reminding me to wear my Crocs today! I am so relieved that I have them to protect my feet as I venture past the water’s edge. ” As I bent to gather the corner of my long dress and tied it in a know just above my knees, the thought passed through my mind: “I wonder if the manufacturers of Crocs knew that their shoes would be an essential tool in sharing the Gospel?” Then I slowly stepped in.

This water was different from the fast river which I watched just hours earlier. This water was tenebrous, stagnant and full of debris. It didn’t look very deep and was not very far across but as we inched through, it was much deeper that I had expected. And although I didn’t tell anyone, I was being stretched beyond my comfort zone! The dirt road which we were walking on, had become slippery from being under water for the last few months. In an attempt to not fall nor loose my shoes in the mire, I curled my toes under gripping the soles of my shoes heartily. With water almost reaching my knees we waded across to dry land.

We had barely reached the other side when the down pour began. A torrential storm which lasted long enough to fill any remaining low points in the terrain. We were fortunate that our next stop was very near. Drenched, we entered a newly build shell of a home where water entered only through the door and window openings as the wind blew. Even so, we were all relieved to have shelter while the storm passed.

As I stood watching the water pour, I reflected on my day. Thinking how often we are brought to a similar place: the water’s edge. That moment in our lives when an obstacle looms ahead of us and we are confronted with the choice: continue or turn back. In that moment we must make a decision!

Not long after seeking shelter, the rains stopped, the sun came out and we were walking once again. We were headed to a prayer meeting taking place in a small church. A gathering of believers who had come together to seek God on behalf of their village. While we were praying the rains came again. The heavens opened and poured down, and I remembered a verse God had given me years earlier about this village. “Shower, O heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain down righteousness; let the earth open, that salvation and righteousness may bear fruit; let the earth cause them both to sprout; I the LORD have created it.” Isaiah 45:8
In that moment I was glad I had stepped beyond the water’s edge.

God can use anything for His glory! Especially the person who decides to persevere in that moment when life’s storms seem to overwhelm. What will you decide at the water’s edge?