I have a new goal for 2019: A blog post every week.
Considering I haven’t posted since 2016, this may be too ambitious. Plus it took me 15 minutes to remember my password and log in.
(Not a good sign.)
But not to worry, I have figured it out. Should be smooth sailing from here on out.
I woke up this morning, slightly panicked the the year was ending. Did I do what I needed to? Did I accomplish what I wanted to? “It’s a little too late to worry about that,” David said, reasonably.
A good point. So I turned my attention to worrying about the future instead. I haven’t figured out what my goals should be and the new year is coming—inevitably, relentlessly, one minute after another.
The truth is, I’m never ready for it. Beginnings are not my strong suit. (This post as clear evidence.)
So, I will leave you with my Christmas letter from the year. (My apologies to those of you that have already read it. Let’s just pretend it’s going to get better from here.)
Dear Loved Ones,
With our children growing up and out, I decided maybe I ought to get a job. Not a real job, mind you, as I am still on call occasionally to deliver forgotten lunches or soccer cleats or drive people to and from college. I told David, “I need a job from 9-2, three days a week. How do you get one of those?”
So, I got a job doing transcription, where I got paid by the audio hour. The first week I had to do training first and then I completed a couple of jobs, painstakingly reviewing my work to avoid any mistakes. This took longer than I would have liked, but I reasoned that I would get faster with experience.
The following Monday my paycheck appeared in my account. $12.53. Seriously. I had worked all week and earned $12.53. The company was encouraging though. “Keep going,” they said, “Once you log 1000 audio hours, your audio hour rate goes up by 3 cents.” You can imagine my consternation. How long would it take to transcribe 1000 audio hours? More than a week, I guessed.
Later that day I pulled all the sandwich stuff out of the fridge for lunch. I glanced down at the package of turkey. On the label it said: $12.53. I stood there frozen. I looked at the knife in my hand and the loaf of bread on the countertop, the lettuce, the tomatoes, the mayo and mustard, an entire block of cheese. I heard the air conditioning click on and looked up from the countertop to my kitchen table and the light hanging above it, the couch, the television, the wood floors underneath me. And in one overwhelming moment, the reality of my situation came immediately into focus. “Oh,” I sighed. “Oh, oh, oh.” I saw what I had never seen before. There I was, the naïve recipient, standing in my beautiful kitchen with a solid roof over my head, fully clothed, with a sandwich and a full jar of pickles winking up at me.
Left to my own devices, with my very best efforts, all I could produce was enough for one package of turkey. If it was up to me, we would be living naked in the desert with 3 pounds of deli meat to share between us. As I stood there, wave after wave of understanding and wonder hitting me, a little phrase slid into my mind: And I will be an husband unto you. Oh, wo is me.
In a flash, I caught of glimpse of my own nothingness, as it were. Just as David had consistently provided turkey and mayo and air-conditioning without our slightest notice, I saw that Jesus Christ had been filling the enormous gaps between my need and my meager efforts all along as well. I stood there equally awed by my vulnerability and lack and by His astonishing generosity and merciful kindness. All my paltry efforts to obey and to love and to choose God and to repent and to try again wouldn’t even add up to $12.53 in eternal terms, and yet Christ graciously provided the full price of salvation anyway. Without resentment or grudge or counting the excruciating cost. He’ll come and make the blessings flow, Far as the curse was found.
This summer Caleb returned from his mission to Italy. David and I and Ethan went to pick him up. After two years apart, climbing the steps of the mission villa in Rome to embrace my son, felt as joyful as the day he was born. After a whirlwind tour of his mission, we headed home. Savannah, who had spent a month in France, and Olivia, who was in college in Idaho, were simultaneously on their own flights home. We landed within minutes of each other in Terminal 2 at Sky Harbor on July 3rd. It was a moment I will never forget. Far flung and home. Scattered and gathered. Divided and joyfully reunited.
Here’s the thing: even with our very best efforts, reunion at the end is impossible. We are slow and stingy and flawed. We are hard-hearted and selfish and wrong. All the time. We can’t put it all back together by ourselves. Without a Savior, all is well and truly lost. And I cannot bear the thought of missing that reunion.
This is why the angels were singing that night so long ago in Bethlehem. In the face of such an enormous and undeserved display of charity and love, what can we do but sing “Hallelujah?” Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill to men. Hey you, down there on earth, all you who deeply love and all you who also inevitably muck it up, there is a way—a sure way to reunion. God himself has come to help. Good news for all of us for whom $12.53 is really stretching ourselves.
And so, we join those choirs of angels in singing hosanna, hosanna to God and The Lamb. We believe and are sure that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world. He came to earth in the meridian of time so that we could be together for all of time and all of eternity. He is the Mighty God who overcame creation’s doom that we might live—together—forever. This Christmas and always, we worship Him, the Great Provider of salvation and redemption and every glorious, eternal reunion, with all our awe-filled hearts.
With all our love,
David, April, Caleb, Olivia, Savannah and Ethan