Friday, December 12
THE SECOND ADVENT WITHOUT STEVE
Where are you, God?
Tonight I drove up to Susi’s. She was having a Christmas party for the doctors and their wives from Steve’s clinic. My first time to come alone — last year I didn’t even try. I parked on the street and began walking toward the house, carrying my offering of Christmas cookies in a midnight blue tin covered with stars. Chris and Susi’s house was laced with green boughs and tiny whte lights.
I was fine until I looked through the front window. There they were: Couples. Laughing. Talking. Immersed in one another. It used to be Steve and me too.
I turned and fled before anyone could see me. The widow Brestin.
So here I am, Lord. I shed my red silk Christmas dress and retreated to my flannel nightgown and my green leather chair. I am crying out to you. Your Psalms are open on my lap. I know your Words are streams of water, and I long to put my roots deep into that water and sense You.
But where are You, God? I thirst for you, But I do not feel You here with me.
I wrote that four years ago. God has brought me through the river of grief and into His arms. I still miss Steve terribly. I honestly still break down and sob sometimes. But I also have greater intimacy with the Lord and I know my life is not over. It will never be the same, but it can be good, even wonderful. Just as He surprised the shepherds, the wiseman, Mary, and others that first Christmas, He continues to surprise and delight me. Our greatest surprise this Christmas is these four new babies. Steve had prayed for godly husbands for his daughters — and somehow I think Steve and Jesus orchestrated the births of these four little girls. We will be together at the cabin in Wisconsin. It’s already snowing up there, and my heart is rejoicing at what God has done. Here they are — in baskets as newborns. They will be rolling about this Christmas on the floor and we will definitely be taking pictures. God has amazed us.
One of the ways we speak to our souls is to remember the ways God amazed us. I’d love everyone to share a recent story of how God amazed you.
1. How has God amazed you this year?
2. I love reading the Christmas story and see how God amazed people. Look with me and write down how God amazed individuals. What do you see?
a. MARY IN LUKE 1:48. (extra credit — how has He also done this for you?)
b. ZECHARIAH IN LUKE 1:67-79 Choose one phrase that leaps out to you and explain why.
c. THE SHEPHERDS IN LUKE 2:8-20 Don’t let the familiarity of this passage keep you from seeing the wonder — find one thing that must have filled their hearts with wonder.
d. THE WISEMEN IN MATTHEW 2:1-10 (i LOVE VERSE 10) Get into their emotions — why did the reappearance of the star make them so joyful? Can you identify in any way?
3. One way God is changing me is enlarging my heart for the widow, the lonely — prisoners, elderly shut-ins, so many. Learning to see Jesus in them, and knowing that as we minister to them, we minister to Jesus. There are also amazing promises from 1 John that as we reach out to our brothers in need, our love is enlarged and our confidence in our salvation is enlarged.
A. According to 1 John 3:16a, how can you know Jesus loves you when you don’t feel His love?
B. According to 1 John 3:16-18, what exhortation are we given? How might you apply this right now this Christmas? Ask the Lord to help you see people in your path who are lonely, and to think of how to minister to them. Let’s not be afraid to be specific and share what He is allowing us to do. Don’t think of it as trumpeting your good deeds, but as encouraging your sisters.
C. What is the amazing promise of 1 John 3:19-20?
4. What is your take-away this week?