Our 2017 Christmas letters went out… on Dec. 22nd. So think of them as Boxing Day letters. Or maybe New Years letters. Anyway, here it is…
The picture is ruined!
Ahhhh Christmas photo time. Such fun. Getting our 4 kids to look at the camera at the same time, and appear pleased about it, is no small task. Ranging from disinterested 2-year-old to incredibly disinterested, nigh disgruntled, almost 17-year-old, we sit and try to muster joy in our matching shirts (because that’s soooo cool and stuff) and we try to remember that we are a loving, kind, gracious family.
And the pictures come out looking… well… honest. Our shirts look awesome, but someone is always ruining each take. So-and-so isn’t smiling. That one is making a goofy face. The baby is spitting up. There is snot dripping out of mama’s nose. You have ruined EVERYTHING!!!
Isn’t that what we are always saying? To/about someone? You’re ruining my dinner. You’re ruining my vacation. You’re ruining my kids, my marriage, my career, my retirement fund, my property value. We want to blame everything on everyone else. “If only they would listen to me. Just do what I say. Just agree with me.” It’s been a theme of 2017, hasn’t it? And haven’t we, if we’re honest, told God, “You’re ruining my life” or at the very least implied such through our grumblings?
This year has been filled with plenty of evidence of the fall. We’ve had stresses from within and without – the world around us in pain and anger, the kids in our home finding their way through big and small milestones, our little country church on the edge of town struggling to survive and make a difference. Sin and death have had their displays of power. We’ve mourned the loss of saints. We’ve mourned the sin of saints choosing ways that are not God’s, trying to take their own view of a perfect picture.
This year, we’re reminded that God is not safe. We’re reminded that the Christian walk is hard and long. We’re reminded that life can be a “crushing load,” that the “clouds of sin and sadness” accumulate so very fast. But in the midst of these reminders is the rainbow of reminders, the one that says God intends His plans for good. The one that says when we remain in the ark, we will live. We do the work of believing. We leave all other work to God Himself. Help our unbelief.
Praise be to God, He helps us believe by showing evidence of the redemption of all things. What we come to realize is that He wasn’t ruining our picture after all. Neither of us would ever have pictured our Christmas photo like this, even just five years ago. We couldn’t have predicted where we are now, with all the twists and turns we’ve had. But God in His infinite goodness, took the picture we had in our heads and is re-making it, piece by piece, better and more glorious than it could possibly be without Him. And we learn to trust Him more.
We love you and pray for you, as we send these letters, that you too may trust Him more and more, through all seasons.
With love, Robin & Rob