"No matter where I am, your teachings fill me with songs." - Psalm 119:54 (CEV)

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The "Christ" in "Christmas"

A month ago, I was excited for Christmas.

Day after Thanksgiving, the Christmas music went in the CD player,

A Christmas playlist was created on my computer,

I started searching for Christmas presents.

Problem was, the Christmas presents were hard to find,

The schoolwork piled up,

And all my fancy plans for remembering the "Christ" in "Christmas" were soon put to the side -

Not forgotten,

Just not possible.

No sooner had I escaped the endless work,

The late nights and early mornings,

The struggle to find time,

Than we flew south,

To sun and warmth,

Short sleeves and sunscreen,

Where, to us Northerners, it felt nothing even remotely like Christmas,

And no amount of fancy lights and Christmas trees could convince us otherwise.

On top of that, we were so busy trying to see absolutely everything

That I got about the same amount of sleep I'd been getting the weeks before,

And the seven sermons and fourteen sermon jams I'd carefully put onto my .mp3 player

In the hopes that I would listen and keep my focus

Remained there, untouched, for almost the entire vacation.

We finally returned home,

And I was busy trying (and failing miserably) to catch up on three to four weeks of lost sleep,

Finish buying Christmas presents before we exchanged them on Christmas Eve,

And helping my poor mother prepare Christmas breads and pies,

Get tables set,

Put presents under the tree;

Helping my father watch children,

Wrap his presents for my mother.

I tried to listen to sermons Monday afternoon,

Christmas Eve,

While I wrapped presents from me and from my father.

Unfortunately, everyone else was trying to use the Internet at the exact same time I was,

And nothing would buffer.

Today is the day after Christmas.

Family has left,

The dishes are clean,

And my new Sara Groves CDs are settled safely in my bathroom,

Ready to be listened to when I take a shower tonight.

No urgent fists pounded upon my door this morning,

And I slept 'til afternoon,

Which was needed,

Considering I was up late last night watching one of the movies I got, October Baby.

I emerged from my room,

Ate a little lunch.

My littlest brother points out the window at snow falling from the sky,

Coming down fast in big flakes,

So that we couldn't see too far past the bushes in our backyard.

"Look, Mary, snow!

You should take some pictures!"

And, after a sermon,

After some study and counting,

After they've all gone out to clear a path for expected tires,

I do.

Gloved hand protectively cupped around the lens,

I go outside

And carefully snap pictures of wonder falling from heaven -

The wonder I've been missing all season.

I didn't read the devotional DesiringGod put out this year,

Didn't listen to a bunch of sermons,

Didn't listen to all of my favorite Christmas music,

Didn't really read much of the Christmas Story,

Haven't yet watched The Nativity Story -

All my fancy plans always come to nothing.

But I know there's a reason for that,

That His plans are better.

He's put my feet exactly where He wants them to be -

Where I have to search,

To seek Him in order to find Him,

And seek Him a lot harder than I have been -

Even when I was back at school,

Listening to at least one sermon a day,

Taking long walks to get alone with Him.

This place,

It's one of my least favorite places to be.


Combined with how frequently I've been feeling like this lately,

Tempts me to complacency.

I don't want to be complacent.

When I opened the file on my computer today, it was number four or five among the "Recent Documents" list.

It's meant to be number one.

I can't even tell how long it's been since I've gone on Bible Gateway

And clicked through pages of Scriptures

In search of who God is.

Today was the first day in many that I've had time-

Or, I should admit to myself, the first I've made time.

I go through Psalm 32,


And, not wanting to stop,

Tell myself, "Just one more."

I finish unwillingly,

Knowing how much else I have to do today.

(Some "break", right?)

Something catches my eye,

Document statistics at the bottom of the window.

"Page 66 / 73"

Sixty-six pages.

Sixty-six pages of things to say about who God is,

Things I am learning about who God is.

The one that really, gets me, though, is this:

"Words: 36800"

Thirty-six thousand, eight hundred words.

Admittedly, some of those are in red,

Pending the completion of an investigation that has recently fallen by the wayside,

But, still, I'm only in Psalms.

I know there will be more.

Thirty-six thousand, eight hundred words to describe God.

Saying God is infinite is one thing,

It's incredible,

But, at times, it can be so abstract.

Thirty-six thousand, though, I can wrap my head around.

And it's big.

Very big.

I sit,

Eyes lingering for just a moment longer on that rather large number,

And wonder if maybe,

Just maybe,

I might get ahold of the the "Christ" after Christmas?

It's not too late.

It's not too late.

Reasons 2581-2638 today,

Seeking after who He is,

This Christ,

The center of Christmas,

The center of everything:
  1. His hand is heavy upon people (Psalm 32:4)
  2. His hand is heavy upon people day and night (Psalm 32:4)
  3. He forgives the guilt of people's sin (Psalm 32:5)
  4. He forgives the guilt of the sin of those who confess their transgressions to Him (Psalm 32:5)
  5. He forgives the guilt of the sin of those who acknowledge their sin to Him and do not cover up their iniquity (Psalm 32:5)
  6. He is His people's hiding place (Psalm 32:7)
  7. He protects His people from trouble (Psalm 32:7)
  8. He surrounds His people with songs of deliverance (Psalm 32:7)
  9. His unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts in Him (Psalm 32:10)
  10. His Word is right and true (Psalm 33:4)
  11. He is faithful in all He does (Psalm 33:4)
  12. He loves righteousness and justice (Psalm 33:5)
  13. The earth is full of His unfailing Love (Psalm 33:5)
  14. By His word the heavens were made (Psalm 33:6)
  15. The starry host were made by the breath of His mouth (Psalm 33:6)
  16. He gathers the waters of the sea into jars (Psalm 33:7)
  17. He puts the deep into storehouses (Psalm 33:7)
  18. He spoke, and it came to be (Psalm 33:9)
  19. He commanded, and it stood firm (Psalm 33:9)
  20. He foils the plans of the nations (Psalm 33:10)
  21. He thwarts the purposes of the peoples (Psalm 33:10)
  22. His plans stand firm forever (Psalm 33:10)
  23. The purposes of His heart stand firm through all generations (Psalm 33:11)
  24. He chose people for His inheritance (Psalm 33:12)
  25. From heaven He looks down and sees all mankind (Psalm 33:13)
  26. From His dwelling place He watches all who live on earth (Psalm 33:14)
  27. He forms the hearts of all (Psalm 33:15)
  28. He considers everything people do (Psalm 33:15)
  29. His eyes are on those who fear Him (Psalm 33:18)
  30. His eyes are on those whose hope is in His unfailing love (Psalm 33:18)
  31. He delivers those who fear Him from death (Psalm 33:19)
  32. He delivers those whose hope is in His unfailing love from death (Psalm 33:19)
  33. He keeps those who fear Him alive in famine (Psalm 33:19)
  34. He keeps those whose hope is in His unfailing love alive in famine (Psalm 33:19)
  35. He answers those who seek Him (Psalm 34:4)
  36. He delivers those who seek Him from all their fears (Psalm 34:4)
  37. Those who look to Him are radiant (Psalm 34:5)
  38. The faces of those who look to Him are never covered with shame (Psalm 34:5)
  39. He hears the call of the poor man (Psalm 34:6)
  40. He saves the poor man out of all his troubles (Psalm 34:6)
  41. His angel encamps around those who fear Him (Psalm 34:7)
  42. His angel encamps around those who fear Him, and He delivers them (Psalm 34:7)
  43. The one who takes refuge in Him is blessed (Psalm 34:8)
  44. Those who fear Him lack nothing (Psalm 34:9)
  45. Those who seek Him lack no good thing (Psalm 34:10)
  46. His eyes are on the righteous (Psalm 34:15)
  47. His ears are attentive to the cry of the righteous (Psalm 34:15)
  48. His face is against those who do evil (Psalm 34:16)
  49. His face is against those who do evil, to blot out their name from the earth (Psalm 34:16)
  50. The righteous cry out, and He hears them (Psalm 34:17)
  51. He delivers the righteous from all their troubles (Psalm 34:17)
  52. He is close to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18)
  53. He saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18)
  54. The righteous person may have many troubles, but He delivers him from them all (Psalm 34:19)
  55. He protects all the bones of the righteous person (Psalm 34:20)
  56. He protects all the bones of the righteous person, not one of them will be broken (Psalm 34:20)
  57. He will rescue His servants (Psalm 34:22)
  58. No one who takes refuge in Him will be condemned (Psalm 34:22)

If you're struggling like me,

Or even if you're not,

And you haven't heard this yet?

Beautiful interview at DesiringGod with Ann Voskamp

About the cross-centered Christmas.

Never too late or too early to listen to this.

(Sylvia's already made it to - past - 10,000!  So amazing to think of who He is like this!)

<a href="http://maryschieferstein.blogspot.com/search/label/10000%20Reasons" target="_blank"><img src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-8zkGH23srZ8/T2i3Bun0O9I/AAAAAAAABSw/8giPvnJmCPI/s320/10000ReasonsButton.jpg" /></a>

Counting in community:



Deena said...

It was so nice to hear from you again Little Sister in Christ. Abiding in Christ that is the key to it all. As you said,it doesn't mater how many of our fancy ideas we get to finish, it is that we finish with HIM. He is in control and He is working for our good and HIS glory. You did well, good and faithful servant. I will be praying for your upcoming semester. I have a full time job now and wont be blogging as much, but will try to keep in touch.
Love in Christ, Deena

Mary said...

It's so nice to hear from you, too, Deena! I'm sorry I have been so busy lately and haven't had much time to communicate with all my friends in the blog world.

Yes, our good and His Glory. Amen, sister! Seeking after that. Always.

Praying for you, too, friend, with your new job, and looking forward to hearing from you whenever you're able.

Love in Christ to you, too, friend.

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