Saturday, January 4, 2014

Christmas Stocking and change

     It all started with a stocking.
     My oldest daughter's Christmas stocking, that is.
     One minute I was reveling in the wonder of Christmas and the joy of having all our children home to celebrate...and the next moment I was plunged into a little "pit of despond."  My husband had innocently commented that next year, Mary Norris' stocking would be gone, because it would be hanging in her new home with her new husband.
     Now don't get me wrong--we adore Mary Norris' fiancee, Matt.  Seriously, he is TOTALLY wonderful in every possible way, and we thank the Lord daily for the incredible gift this incredible young man is to our daughter and to our whole family.
     And they are getting married two weeks from today!   Yahoo...and yikes all at the same time!
     But here's what prompted the stocking melt-down--it suddenly hit me that life is changing.  Mary Norris will soon have a new home and a new family with her wonderful almost-husband, Matt, and chances are pretty good they will not be spending every Christmas for the rest of their lives with us in our home.  This was a terrible and shocking revelation.
      But it gets worse.  All our children are growing up...and leaving our home...and moving away...and life will never be quite the same...and how on earth did this happen so quickly...and why can't we hold onto them and everyone else we love and freeze them and keep them right here next to us forever...
     Deep breath.
     And one unimaginable, awful day every one of those five beloved, handmade-by-my-aunt-Janie-stockings will be headed off to new homes and new families to go hang by new fireplaces.
     O mercy...another deep breath.
     Here's the thing--change is tough.  Of course, hard changes rock us to our core.  But good changes can be just as stressful in their own way.  Even glorious changes--like joyful weddings--can be challenging.  Because all changes remind us that nothing in this life will last forever, that this world is not our home, and that we're only passing through.  We can try our best to desperately hang on to people or possessions or whatever we're hoping to cling to--but it's all for naught for only God is eternally changeless.
     But I loved this quote I read just this morning: "All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another." (Anatole France)   That's it--we have to, in Amy Carmichael's words, "See in this a chance to die."  An opportunity to die to ourselves, to our need to control, to our plans, and to our selfishness.  And instead to be open to all that God has in store for our future.  To grow in our trust and faith in our never-changing and forever-faithful Lord.
     David Jeremiah put it this way: "We can embrace change by knowing we serve an unchanging God. At the beginning of this new year, we confess with Joshua: 'We have never been this way before.' But our faithful, changeless Lord will show us the way to go, guide us at every juncture, bless us at every step, and provide goodness and mercy every day of our lives."
     So, ready or not, change is here.  But then, so is our Almighty God!  So I guess it's time to release that Christmas stocking with a happy and trusting heart. Our family may be changing and that involves a little bit of dying...but, boy, it also means a whole lot of new and joyful living just around the bend!
   Might we embrace the changes You bring into our lives, Lord, as we love with open hands and follow You with trusting hearts.  To God be the glory.


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