Epiphany

Christmas-epiphany

I was wrestling with a waller, the unattractive kind that slops around in a puddle of pity. I think it had started with the post-Thanksgiving blues.

It had been the first Thanksgiving one of my children wouldn’t be with us, and I was determined to celebrate who could come rather than focus on who couldn’t.

My college boys were home, bringing with them more than dirty laundry when they walked in our back door. They may study books, but I study their faces, and I can see a thousand stories I’ve missed. One has the look of newfound confidence, fruit born of (mostly) good choices, hard work, and careful intention. The other returns with new eyes for his father and me — being away has been good for him, and he appreciates better what he once took for granted.

Listening to them talk, it’s obvious they’ve missed each other. I think that might come as a surprise to both; it is gift for me. The youngest’s laughter — the very color of happy — makes me woozy.

I miss their sister. We all do.

It is on the heels of all this I found myself doing something I’ve never done before: jury duty. I suppose the reason it has a negative association is that we don’t get to choose when we’re summoned. We simply go when we’re called . . . Or Else. I’m a law-abiding citizen (speed limits notwithstanding), so the mere threat of Or Else was enough to get me there.

The delightful Clerk of Court greeted our pool with all manner of congeniality and enthusiasm, riffing through procedure and excusing those who met dismissal criteria. Eventually we were grouped in a specific, numerical order; I was #6. It was then I first suspected I would be seated for a jury. My suspicions were confirmed when we were questioned by the attorneys. It was the way they looked at me. I knew.

The short of the long (as my friend Hannah often says):  I ended up seated, listening to long days of testimony that involved, thankfully, only a financial dispute between Big Business and Government Business. No one was hurt, no one was going to jail. In turn, it was, boring and fascinating, humorous and maddening. On more than one occasion I wanted to raise my hand to ask a question, and an equal number of times shout “Objection!”

Instead, I behaved.

Timing for my selection is where this story comes in: It wasn’t convenient.

It was the first of December and there were already two fun Christmassy things on my calendar. Being selected for a jury meant I’d have to miss one or both, not to mention interfering with work.

By Thursday I had already missed one occasion, and I was set to miss the other gathering on Friday. Maybe it sounds silly to have been in a funk over missing two holiday get-togethers, but because I work virtually and have plenty of time to myself, I need social interaction whenever possible. Humans are oxygen. Too long without them and I go under.

Thursday afternoon testimony ended in time for me to run a few errands before businesses closed at 6:00. I was already in a pouty frame of mind, missing my children, and particularly concerned for the baby who needed to return to class with pneumonia, plus knowing I wasn’t going to be able to make my Friday gathering.

Instead of checking off To-Do’s, however, I kept hitting roadblocks, unable to accomplish even simple things — it was almost laughable how nothing was going as planned.

A string of inconveniences when time is short does not a pretty disposition make.

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I turned to leave the last failed errand behind, in a huff and out of sorts. The depth of my irritation was not proportional to reality, but emotions were having a heyday, trumping logic and reason. And making me a little crazy.

Please tell me you know what I mean.

But then God got my attention, in the way that only He can — “Look up, baby girl,” — and it was as if a thousand sermons were preached straight to my heart. The sky had become a masterpiece, indescribable in her beauty, swaths of pink and blue undeniably declaring the glory and majesty and very presence of God.

El HaGadol — The Great God {Deuteronomy 10:17}

El HaShamayim — The God Of The Heavens {Psalm 136:26}.

Elah Sh’maya V’Arah — God of Heaven and Earth {Ezra 5:11}.

Instantly, my heart changed. My attitude and perspective shifted. I saw my circumstances through new eyes, my Father’s.

It was a generous, very kind gift. If we were were speaking face to face, I could not have heard him more clearly —

I know you and your heart, sweet one. I know the things you’re missing this week are the things that feed your soul. But will you trust Me enough to believe that if you’re missing good things, there might be a God thing, a best thing, right where you are?

It was an epiphany.

God knows my heart. It is He who shapes my desire and understands best my wants and needs, and the often subtle distinction between the two. If circumstances kept me from doing something good and soul-filling, would I dare to consider there was something better and of greater value instead?

When I stopped looking at my circumstances as inconvenience, and instead valued them as Kingdom opportunity, I could hardly wait to discover what God had in mind.

Holidays can be hard. Often there’s a sense of obligation attached to our plans. The enemy of your heart would love nothing more than to rob your joy and delight in this season, often accomplished by drawing your focus inward.

Instead, would you join me in looking up and trusting the Lord has something wonderful
and of great value wherever you are and whatever your circumstance?

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  • Bev @ Walking Well With God

    Robin,
    I’m missing my dad terribly even though it’s been 4 years since he passed. My latest string of errands did not a cheerful disposition make on this end either. I need to look for that “God thing”…I need to look up instead of around…I, too, need to look for what good thing my Heavenly Father has already provided, or is about to provide. I needed this post this morning!! May you have a joyous Christmas, Robin!
    Blessings,
    Bev

    • http://www.pensieve.me/ Robin Dance

      Bev,

      {{hugs}} Holidays can be so hard, bringing fresh a grief we thought was resolved. Losing a parent is never easy, so I’m whispering a simple prayer this morning for you (and those who share your sorrow) to sense the Lord’s presence and peace in ways that soften your sadness. Merry Christmas and warm wishes for much beauty in these coming days.

    • Penny

      Bev,
      I’m thinking of you, I’m so sorry for what you are going through. it can be hard not having your parent(s) around to share the joy of the season. Please know, I am looking up with you.

      Merry Christmas and hope for a blessed Season…

      Penny

      • Bev @ Walking Well With God

        Merry Christmas and blessings to you Penny!!
        Bev xx

    • Joanne Peterson

      Bev, thinking of you, hard to miss your dad during the holidays, I lost my dad four years ago too. It changes but at least for me doesn’t get easier. Missing your dad is still missing your dad. Being with Jesus is of course the best about heaven, but no more death of sorrow, is truly appealing. Hugs, Joanne

      • Bev @ Walking Well With God

        You’re right Joanne…it changes but doesn’t necessarily get easier. Hugs back to you sweet friend…
        Bev xx

    • Beth Williams

      Bev,
      I miss my parents also. Mom died 6 years ago. Dad is well physical ok, but mentally not so good. Going to memory care early next year. Also in-laws have had health issues. A tough Christmas for me. Praying for you to have a good Christmas and know that God is there for you!

      • Bev @ Walking Well With God

        Beth,
        It’s so hard when those we love decline. I will be praying for you through this tough Christmas. May God grant you peace in His presence and hope through the birth of His Son. You are a blessing sweet friend…
        Merry Christmas,
        ((Hugs)),
        Bev

  • Kim

    Thank you for this timely devotional. I’m in a season of grief. Chronic illness tries its best to rob me of joy, and my thoughts and emotions tend to follow suit, that’s when I turned inward instead of seeing what God has for me in this place. Isolation/ loneliness have a way of making you feel as if you are the only one going through hard. I pray that God will use me to see that others need encouragement and to know that they are not alone! Thank you for the reminder to ” Look up and trust the Lord has something wonderful right where we are. “

    • http://www.pensieve.me/ Robin Dance

      You’re in a hard place, Kim. There’s no denying that. So I join you in praying for how your very circumstances will be a blessing to others. Not one thing in our lives is wasted, but sometimes it takes longer to see the redemption of our pain. God loves us more than we can understand, and I’m praying you grasp a glimpse of his goodness and love for you now and into this new year.

  • Penny

    Robin,
    Your post is filled with the wonder of the Lord. There is always something He does that amazes me. After the loss of a close family friend the other day He has been present in more than one way. So yes look up and trust in the Lord.

    Blessings to you and your family and best wishes for a very Merry Christmas!

    Penny

    • http://www.pensieve.me/ Robin Dance

      So sorry to hear of your loss, Penny. My sincerest sympathies. <3

  • Joanne Peterson

    Robin,
    This is a fleshing out of nothing is an interruption, it’s a divine appointment. But your phrases “But will you trust Me enough to believe that if you’re missing good things, there might be a God thing, a best thing right where you are? If circumstances kept me from doing something good and soul filling, would I dare there was something better and of greater value instead? When I stopped looking at my circumstances as inconvenience, and instead looked at them as Kingdom opportunity, I could hardly wait to discover what God had in mind. I really needed this, and really need a change in vision, new eyes, and new heart. I will ask how God is going to use this, and keep eyes and heart open to God opportunities for kingdom work. I too am isolated often, and find having to miss soul feeding opportunities so vital. It’s happened a lot. So I will follow this, it’s what I’ve been praying about.
    Blessings, and Merry Christmas, Joanne

    • http://www.pensieve.me/ Robin Dance

      So thankful to hear if this is timely for you, Joanne. Any good in my words is all God.

  • Anna Smit

    Such a wonderful post. I’ve been feeling the same nudge to look up (we’re home in New Zealand for three weeks, but coming home is bittersweet without Mum here anymore). This really speaks to where I’m at as well: “But will you trust Me enough to believe that if you’re missing good things, there might be a God thing, a best thing, right where you are?”.

    Hugs from afar to you this Christmas. So hard missing your daughter and missing moments you’d so looked forward to. Praying for joy to keep breaking through.

    • http://www.pensieve.me/ Robin Dance

      Thank you for your encouragement, Anna; I so hope your time in New Zealand is full of great joy and peace.

  • Beth Williams

    Robin,
    I have been in a bit of a “funk” for a few days now. Hubby had to work and missed our candlelight communion. Dad being moved to memory care in January and in-laws having health issues. I feel kind of blah! I need to look up and see Him–the one and only who was born that day!! Need to count my many blessings!!
    Have a blessed Christmas!

    • http://www.pensieve.me/ Robin Dance

      Merry Christmas to you, too, Beth. Sometimes it’s mechanical to count our blessings, but something about focusing on the beauty right before and looking for the God in it brings us closer to him.

  • Sheryl87

    Thank you for this Robin. Overload at work has left me not really feeling joyful this Christmas season. Thanks for the reminder to see our circumstances through our Father’s eyes, the one who loves us and has plans for us even when we don’t see them clearly. Enjoy a Merry and Blessed Christmas!

  • Martha Vance

    Bev, I can tell you from experience that losing parents is always hard but that first set of holidays is somehow the most impactful. I lost my Dad when I was just 21 yrs. old and today I am 65 yrs. old…..and there are days that it seems like forever and a real fog but memories come in when least expected. While my sister and I shopped before Christmas, we ran into friends of my family from years back and the greatest gift when running into them is always the stories he tells of my Dad and Mother. He paints them in a light that only a Mother and Daddy should be in….he brings their character to life with tales from long ago and smiles and laughter that makes our hearts and minds rush back to years ago and the love the whole family shared. It is good to keep memories alive. It is a way of keeping them alive. Our Mother has been gone for right at 18 years and it is so fresh and new for me still, that I long for the touch of her hand or the sound of her voice just to know she is near. But we settle for the new home they reside in and the new life they enjoy….we look for brighter days and manage through those that seems a little darker than they should. God bless you during this holiday season and all the upcoming holidays that remind us of our parents and loved ones. In missing them this year, I had to experience for the first time in my life, not having my kids home for Christmas. I don’t know what is worse, losing a parent or missing children. Our lives have been on crazy this year and it has brought bittersweet feelings between siblings and caused a fracture in the family. So we, my husband and I spent the holidays alone, and I refuse to let the devil have any joy in that, cause I know that my kids are hurting too and with time and healing, we will be a family again. I ask for prayer for that and remember…..all things are possible through Christ Jesus who strengthens us. Have a great day…..God bless you.

  • Martha Vance

    Robin,
    Thank you for the posting. It is truly timely and so spot on. We do often times feel so frustrated with menial tasks that we would rather not perform but are required to do by law or else. But the fact that each day is bright and new and brings unknown joy from all sources around us, from sunrises, to sunsets, to music, to visitors, to meals with friends, to letters from loved ones and even just a moment to sit quietly and reflect on the days activities. So much joy is centered around our whole day and we all have pout mode….that is for sure and for me, I have experienced more frustration than usual and due to this is has caused stress and now my health has taken a toll from the year of stress and heartaches. The Dr. says, just get rid of the stress….I replied to him that it would require an attorney and a cemetery….just joking of course, but he said, if I did not find peace on some level, that this would continue and get worse and it has. Over the holidays, there have been days that I have not even been able to get out of bed due to the pain I am in. Then restoration comes and I have several good days and I go full speed doing the things needed to be done and then I am done again for several more days. So God is in control and healing is on the horizon for 2016. I am searching for my word for the new year and when I discover what it is….an all in compassing word….I will let you know. Have a great week and a happy new year and thank you for your continual postings which are uplifting and inspiring to all those who read them. You are a blessing in disguise. Martha