Sunday, December 19, 2010

Everything Changed

Winter has settled in for its three month long stay. In Louisiana, that means that the temperatures will shift between comfortable and cold, the weathermen will falsely predict snow a half dozen times, and the locusts will fall silent until the arrival of spring in March. The trees have lost much or most of their brilliantly fall-hued foliage. Their bare arms are reaching for the sky in the hope they can catch the illusive sun, or flag it down, and convince it to stay another hour. As winter arrives, Christmas awaits just around the bend! I love this time of year for many reasons. I love the generosity that spreads around like the flu. I love gathering with my family over and over and over again--as long as we all manage to behave ourselves. I love the music, the lights, the parties and the food. This year has been especially enjoyable, and it has almost everything to do with Micah.

This year, I was able to watch Micah help his Daddy decorate the Christmas tree.I have enjoyed taking out Micah's nativity set almost every day. It thrills my heart to hear him call Mary, "Momma," Joseph, "Daddy," and the Baby, "Jesus."
I love the fact that Micah prances around the house wielding wrapping paper rolls like swords, ready to challenge anyone--man, woman or black and white spotted dog--to a duel. I have to warn you--he cheats. He always uses two, like Antonio Banderas in Zorro, as opposed to my one and Daisy's . . . . none. I enjoy hearing him quasi-sing "Jingle Bells" and trip over the lyrics of "Hallelujah." The boy loves some Handel, and who can blame him?

I love Christmas pictures made in Christmas outfits put on Christmas cards, which are then sent out to friends and family.

Most of all, I enjoy this time of year because it reminds me of the reason I hope for a better tomorrow. It reminds me of the vast lovingkindness and compassion of our Awesome Creator God who doesn't owe us a thing, yet is on a continual rescue mission on our behalf. It is for this reason that I would like to cordially invite you to the Christmas Eve service at Crossroads Church in Ruston, LA at 5 p.m. on December 24th. I helped plan the program and prepare the choir. I know that you will be blessed by the music, the fellowship and the worship of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

The Christmas Eve worship service at Crossroads is special to me because it is the service that drew me to Crossroads three years ago. The week of Christmas in 2007 was one of the worst weeks of my life. The events of that week left me reeling and broken for months. Had God not been especially good and gracious to me in the days, weeks and months that followed, I might not have darkened the door of a church of any kind ever again. That sounds dramatic, but it is no stretch to the truth. Three years ago, my good friend, Erica Kordsmeier, invited me to the Christmas Eve service, knowing that I would enjoy the music, but having no idea how God would use that event to change my life in ways that I couldn't have imagined in my wildest dreams.

My friend, Erica

Brandon and I sat in the back. I didn't know many people, which made me feel a little better about quietly crying through most of the service. I cried because my heart was broken. I cried because the music was beautiful. I cried because I could feel the love of the believers in the room. Most of all, I cried because in that gathering, I felt the presence of the Lord more strongly than I had felt it in years. In a room of strangers, my famished soul found nourishment. I lapped it up with the grace of a starving dog. I probably looked like I had attended a funeral when I left, but the time had acted like balm to my invisible wounds. Okay, okay, enough with the cliche metaphors.

The service didn't fix me--let's be clear; Jesus fixed me--but it made me hungry for more of the Spirit at Crossroads. It began a domino reaction which led to the following: More crying through services. Healing. Forgiveness. Church membership. Christian friends. Spiritual revival. Discipleship (I found two women to disciple me). Spiritual growth. Service. Discipleship (I began discipling others). Joy in the Lord! Helping to plan and prepare the Christmas Eve service in the hope that it will draw someone else to the greatest adventure of his/her life.

While at Crossroads, God has changed everything. In a time of hurt and rebellion, this service wooed me right into His hand. This God, the Highest Being of the universe, humbled Himself by coming into this world in the vulnerability of an infant's body. He did this to show that He is not only for the great in this world, but for the lowest of the low, the poorest of the poor--the group of which I consider myself a part. That God, was born to die so that we could have life in Him. I was dead without Him, and now I am alive! He brought me to life, healed my brokenness and replaced my tears with laughter. Every quest and desire for happiness is met in Him. I have seen many miracles in the past three years. Yes, many. But, one of the greatest miracles I have witnessed is how He has turned one of my greatest heartbreaks into the greatest good in my life. When I allow my heart to venture back into the hurt of three years ago, I can only smile. I remember my hurt as if through a haze. What I feel today is gratitude and joy. Only God does that, and He can do it for anyone.

Funny how something as simple as a single service . . . or the birth of a Baby changes everything.

Merry Christmas.

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