Wednesday, January 7, 2015

...there's presents in my bed!

This time of year, I usually ask the Lord what He has for me for the coming year. Not looking for a prediction, as much as listening specifically for whatever He might want me to focus on in the coming months. I need that focus, because the week between Christmas and New Year's is not my favorite. The gifts have been all opened and the company's gone home. The bills will be arriving soon. There's an awful lot of clean up to do; the house to de-decorate; the tree to take down and ornaments to re-box. I pack up the Christmas movies and the Christmas music and the Christmas books and the Christmas candles, and my collection of Christmas mugs.  I make us eat all the leftovers, and we are really tired of Christmas candy by New Year's. And there is always a renegade decoration that somehow misses the Christmas clean-up. It generally sits on the counter in the kitchen for a year, testifying that I am clearly too lazy to take it to the backyard shed and tuck it in a box. By the time I'm finally finished with the holidays, I'm ready to hit the spiritual reset button.

During Christmas this year the Holy Spirit preempted a New Year's slump and answered my prayer by giving me a great picture of wonder (a feeling of pleased surprise, caused by something unexpected, beautiful or inexplicable). We were enjoying family time, when suddenly I heard my granddaughter running down the hallway excitedly calling, "Gramma! Gramma!"  Clara turned the corner into the living room, a big grin on her face and said, "There's presents in my bed!" We had left her port-a-crib set up in our bedroom and were using it as a big basket to hold all the gifts we were going to open later that day. It was filled with boxes and bags, beribboned and sparkling with glitter. She had gone into our bedroom and been surprised when something she sees all the time--an ordinary thing--turned out to be something unexpected and amazing. All day long, my mind returned to the sight of her little face alight with joy, her voice high with excitement and thought, that is wonder.  And I knew that was what God wanted to renew in me this year.

Young children are rarely bored, because they are constantly discovering--everything is new and exciting to them. It is only as we grow older and learn how the world works that wonder retreats, misidentified as ignorance. The world is full of little miracles a child might stop to exclaim over...dandelion fluff, rainbows, bird song, light shining through a bowl of marbles, even a mud puddle. How about the miracle of life itself on a planet at just the right distance from the right sort of star, with the right atmosphere and water, with a moon of the right diameter and orbit, all pointing to a creativity and wisdom beyond understanding? God inhabited our world with marvels, so if I've stopped feeling wonder perhaps I've somehow stopped seeing with childlike eyes.

As a 'mature' believer, I can easily slip into a world-weary cynicism toward life, but that's a faith killer. And worse, it isn't even true...I only think I've seen and understand everything. I Corinthians 2:9 says, "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” If God has promised a life more than I can imagine, then I want to fight against that same old, same old attitude. So I am asking the Lord to help me be a little less grownup and a little more like Clara--ready to be surprised and delighted. This is no small task when life has hurt and disappointed, but God is more than able. And wonder helps to keep my faith strong and joyful no matter the circumstances.

Of course I can't spend all day gazing out the window; there is grown-up work to be done, but not accompanied by a funeral dirge.  I am asking my wonderful heavenly Father (who truly is full of wonders) to soften and reset my heart. I am closer to the end of my race than its beginning, and I want to finish filled with hope and expectation, not sour boredom. God wants me to be quick to laugh and love and play; ready to exclaim over and enjoy the little miracles He sends my way every day. I want to see the "presents in my bed" and run to Father to tell Him all about it.

And this morning I found one last ornament hiding in plain sight in the living room. I laughed, and put it on the counter in the kitchen. :)

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