Saturday, December 24, 2016

Long lay the world in sin and error pining...

It's my first Christmas Eve in 34 years spent without my husband. I was busily wrapping presents, stopping to run to the store for more tape and things I forgot, back to wrapping, starting to bake, washing laundry, etc. It occurred to me - without bitterness, without sadness - that Christmas at that instant, on this day, was really not any different for me than all those other years. I laughed at this thought because it was true - Pat didn't help much if any with these things. I could count on him for a run to the store to get some odd or end that I'd forgotten, maybe to run to Sheetz for coffee (always better not made at home), but his usual holiday behavior was to nap somewhere quietly and out of the way. If I broke down and began to freak out about "no help!" and "I always have to do it all myself," he might come out of hiding to very, very slowly wrap a present or two and then escape only to come out to check on any baking that was going on and steal a cookies or two. So in God's tender mercy, He has reminded me that this Christmas isn't so very different for me than other ones.  I found myself very comforted by that thought and once again, knowing where Pat gets to spend his time now.

While I busily wrapped, I had a fake fire going with holiday instrumental music. "O Holy Night" came on several times in different arrangements and I found myself singing the words in my head. I think this is the first time I've ever really thought about the words to O Holy Night:

Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Til He appeared and the soul felt it's worth
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn
Fall on your knees

How beautiful!  And so true -- I see the world in "sin and error pining" daily and sadly, the world doesn't even realize what it is pining for. The unhappiest people I know have either rejected God outright or live in a tenuous place where they try to justify themselves by works while they remake God in their own image.  They try to downplay sin or even deny it is sin at all, calling good evil and evil good. (The magic word is "love" - not the kind of love and obedience God demands, but a licentious kind that says "anything goes" and masquerades as the real deal in society today). Their unhappiness, their lack of satisfaction, their need for "things" and self-gratification/justification speaks volumes to the pining in their hearts. Their souls don't feel their worth; they may not even acknowledge having a soul. They don't recognize that thrill of hope or they have shut it out entirely. No matter what they do they can't fill the yearning because it can only be filled by Christ. There is indeed a new and glorious morn, readily available both here and now and in the beyond we can't see yet (but Pat is surely rejoicing in); it requires nothing but faith on our part. "For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, this not of works lest any man should boast." The pining can end - we can have that joy *now* and forever. It's in His Name that all oppression will cease - falling on our knees is every much a gift to us as it is an act of worship.

I'm so thankful for that thrill of hope and that while I'm "in" this weary world, I'm not "of" it. It is my prayer that those souls who don't know their worth will find it in Him this holiday season and in the coming New Year.

1 John 5:19 We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.
1 John 4:4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
John 15:19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.
John 17:14-16 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.

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