Christmas Day, Tuesday, December 25, 2007

My Christmas Day revelation began this morning when I climbed into the shower, and was completed as I packed my bags for the trip home. I am a nerd. Only a nerd would forget to pack enough extra underwear while managing a meticulous book bag—complete with multiple books, Bibles, highlighters, pens, notebooks, laptop and every cord needed for enjoying the same. And the definition of the word “meticulous” leaves the comparative weights of the two bags to the reader’s imagination.

It seems I always write my thorns in the flesh, my struggles, the hard things. It’s true, because I write them to get them out of my system. The good things, the happy things I want to savor, to keep, but not to evaluate, pick apart, weigh out and measure. But I do want to remember them, and for the sake of memorial, I should record them with equal determination.

The trip home was shortened by sleep, “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” and lighthearted teasing. Said Mom after switching drivers, “Ooh! I left my keys in the back.” Papa looked up from his book and waited for the punchline. “Do you want to go somewhere right away or should I crawl back there and get them?” Fishing his keys out of his back pocket, Papa wondered, “If that’s what you wanted, why didn’t you just ask?” Mom shrugged. “I just wanted you to say, ‘Oh here, sweetheart. You can use mine.” The corners of Papa’s mouth twitched as he handed the keys over. “I see,” he said, then added “Sweatheart.”

A few minutes later I heard him clear his voice as he studied the GPS. “I bet you didn’t realize what happens when the sun goes down.” We all perked up, waiting for some nifty, new information his toy would provide. “It gets dark.” Bewildered, Josiah and I looked at each other and then burst out laughing. “Stick around me,” Papa advised, “And you’re likely to learn a lot.”

The heavy cooler banged against my legs as I stopped short on the porch, my mouth dropping open. The first one to the house, I knew the French door standing wide open could mean only one thing: it had been standing open for the past five days. My stomach flip-flopped as I walked into the dark house, but the only obvious intruders were a couple of crinkly leaves.

Before leaving Grandma’s house this morning, we watched “The Nativity Story”, courtesy of Nathaniel and Lauren. I was struck by the picture it painted of Joseph “a righteous man” who also exhibited impressive mercy and instant obedience. Inspired, I searched out everything the Bible had to say about this surrogate father of Christ and found very little. Not a single word. Not one. In spite of having a non-speaking part in the drama of the incarnation, this man’s actions spoke with profound eloquence. As a righteous man, he could not marry Mary and smear his own reputation by acknowledging her child his own. And yet, he would not accuse her, see her stone and free himself to marry another. Instead, sacrificing his own happiness, since he would not be able to marry later, he intended to divorce her quietly and spare her life and that of her child. Joseph was a man of God—unable to live with sin, unwilling to destroy the sinner. In the footsteps of his namesake, Joseph receives three dreams from the Lord, and immediately rises from his bed and obeys—even at risk to himself, his reputation and his business. May I be just, abhorring the presence of sin in my own life, yet merciful to those caught in its snare, and always, instantly, unquestioningly obedient to the Word of the Lord.

Lord, Thy mercy overlooked
The sins Thou’d written in Thy book
Until the time that Thou could send
Thy Son to seek and save all men.

May I, too, be quick to see
The need of all humanity
For the mercy Thou would give
That those who judge themselves might live.

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