We pile into Grandma's for Sunday dinner, and we heat casserole dishes on the Bar-B-Q and talk about the damage and God's power and isn't it crazy what can happen when things go awry?
Now, it's Christmas Eve, our power has been restored, and I'm staring out a sun-lit window thinking about everything we've been through in the days leading up to now.
Being in the country and having no power - it can be a vulnerable situation in our time. I think about the Pioneers who survived winters on the plains with babes and husbands and nothing but a wagon and a lean-to to, well, lean on. Well, we've got a lean-to (some call it a shed) but, there's no way we're camping out there. No, we're far more blessed - we have a home.
But see, with no power to turn on the computer or the lamps or the dish washer, you are forced to sit and wait. We can choose to wait impatiently for the power to come back or we can wait on the Lord who holds all power in the palm of His mighty hands.
Sure, life is messy and we stress about sump pumps failing, basement's flooding. We boot up generators from friendly neighbors, we can't flush toilets or run water or cook or have a tea. Oh, and we remember how blessed we are when the lights are on and everything goes as expected. Because in most parts of the world they live like this daily - they live worse than this daily. I shake my head at my spoiled nature.
We stay quiet at night, grasping on to the still life. Embracing that which can't be manufactured and sold for 40% off. The complete darkness but a few candles. The blankets piled around a cold little country house. The kids try to play with new toys at the kitchen table, we read in dim light, and we tuck in, praying.
But a part of me doesn't want the power to pop back on. Because this quiet- this complete stillness will pass. This curling up and singing carols together and relying completely on God to fill the darkness and uncertainty with His Forever Light - it passes too quickly when we think we can figure things out ourselves.
When everything flickers and hums and pops back to life - our focus on His Light tips upside down. The world whirs. People fill up Wal-Mart and I return to 'life as usual', even though I'm desperately trying to mold a new 'usual' in light of this crazy culture.
I read from Matthew 6 about how we fuss over ourselves and become consumed with worry. But our God is bigger than ice storms. He has conquered the world, after all. I read it: "What I'm trying to do here is get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving."
Because He gives sunshine and He gives the storm. And it's when we are sitting in the storm spattered darkness we most realize how helpless we are. Mere mortal humans on this massive green and blue sphere. We cannot hold our own lives in our own hands - we are incapable. No, there is a great set of hands who not only holds us but the whole universe. He causes the rain (and ice) to fall on the wicked and the good. He holds weather and trees and limbs in His palm. We can wait for the earthly power to be restored but are we tuned into the eternal Power? The One who is mighty to save?
The greatest Gift ever given, gives all good gifts and everything we receive is a gift, whether we perceive it as a mess or a miracle. He decides. God chooses. God gives and He takes away and we respond.
How do we respond to Christ?
Jesus Christ - the child we are supposed to celebrate at Christmas. (But, do we really?) The Holy One who came down and was Light and the Power of Heaven wrapped up in a swaddling bundle.
The country church is planning to have a candle light service in the, well - candlelight. There probably won't be any lights, amps, words on screen, or heat. The power still teeters in much of our area and people are getting stressed.
After all, it's Christmas - where is the POWER, where is the LIGHT?
Oh, that's the crazy irony - He's already here.
We stress about power while also proclaiming Him but the two are contradictory. I'm deeply convicted and breathless with wonder at how He could love so boldly and completely and so lavishly.
He came down. He humbled Himself to being born of a teenager in a smelly barn. He dwelled among us - Immanuel, God with us. He knew human struggle. He knew fear, hunger, pain, sadness, joy, laughter - He knew these things and He knows us too. In the darkness of life, we can know there is an eternal Light who never fails us. Who never passes away. Who never fades. There is a Mighty Power who holds us and knows all and has all under His wing. We never need to let fear grip us or let the darkness steal our joy. He is our joy and He is complete. In His love, there is fullness of joy, friends. FULLNESS of joy!
Walk with The Light, and never find darkness again.
The wind and ice and the storms of life can take the earthly power down but our Heavenly Power stands forever. No wind can move Him, no Power is above Him.
The lights might go out momentarily, but we have a Love-Light who's care for us can never be snuffed or stopped. Christ, the Lord - The Light of the World.
Hold Light and Love close this season, friends.
See you in the new year, Lord willing.