I have never been a big fan of Christmas. Yet today, I helped put up the family Christmas tree.
I'd like to say that my engaging in the festicity has to do withthe victory of theology over psychology, of God's power over my past's pain, but I can't.
I know that God has redeemed me, all of me. My past no longer controls me, and my present and future belong to God. My past is even a tool for God; it is part of what he has used to make me who I am; the person He wants to minister for Him.
I also know that in Christ there is healing for all the hurts that I have experienced. There is nothign that has happened to me that God cannot overcome, no ilness of the heart that he cannot cure.
I know all of this, and I believe all of this. I even experience all of this.
So why is this a bittersweet time of year?
I remember all the misery of Christmases past, when my dad would stumble drunk into the tree, destroying several presents, and trampling hopes for a different Chirstmas from years gone by.
I remember some very lean Christmases after the folks split.
I remember Christmas as the date around which the one who would haver been my first child was to have been born. We never did meet Morgan.
I remember also the many people who are not here for Christmas. There are people whom I have loved, and some whom I continue to love far too deeply for words, whose absence is felt far too much. I wish I could be with them.
Is then a denial of the reality of what Christ has done? Does it make a mockery of what I claim to believe?
I don't think so. I have indeed experienced healing. I am indeed free from my past. That is, I am not longer controlled by it. I remain, however, aware of it.
I believe that one day I will not be so aware any longer; my attention be consumed by the awesome beauty of the presence of God. That day is not today however.
What I am talking about, in technical terms, is the tension betwen realised and futurist eschatology. In human terms, it is the tension between knowing what is to come, and waiting for it. It is the middle state of living in the certain expectation of a known future while still feeling the sting of the fact that it is still in the future.
That I live in certain expectation of a known future speaks to my faith, and it is something I can speak of only from my faith.
But the Lord has not given me only a future to hope for. He has also given me a present to enjoy. For all that I miss certain people, I have others around me, by God's grace, whom I can enjoy. I have two wonderful boys. I have an amazingly steadfast spouse. Even among those people I miss there are those who are no farther from me than the telephone.
You know, the more I think about it, the season is really not so bittersweet as all that. I begin to think I will really enjoy this Christmas.
I'll let you know.