a Christmas protected & pondering.

I recently read a quote that I’ve been mulling over in my mind, not comfortable enough to simply let it settle in.

“The will of God will never take you where the grace of God will not protect you.

Hmm.

My wordsmith, analytical, question-all-the-things mind dissected each word of this sentence within about thirty seconds, recognizing each as simple in its definition, yet some incredibly complex in their connotation.

I could spend a lifetime exegeting “the will of God” and “the grace of God.” Many have, and for that I’m profoundly thankful. But where I found myself caught up in this particular quotation was the word “protect.”

Protect from what? I hear protect and so quickly my mind runs to the thought of safety. No harm, no scratches, no dents or tears or cracks or breaks. And then I think of those I know, or those I read of, who have placed the will of God above all else in their lives, who carry the name of Christ like a banner over their very selves. For a great number of them, many a dark night has found them crying out for (my prior definition of) protection to no avail.

Heartbreak steals expectation.
Sickness steals health.
Attack steals dignity.
Infertility steals dreams.
Death steals life.

It’s Christmas Day so I think of Mary, so young and so faithful, pure yet pregnant, innocent yet judged as her belly swelled and her fiancé stood by and her explanation for the One within her was so seemingly preposterous.

Protected?

In a way, she seems so far from it. Labor and delivery in an unsanitary, far from home place. No mother standing by her side, no sister at hand who had felt those contractions or known those emotions or fought to harness that fear. Her life permanently altered by the Baby to become the Man to become the scorned One on the cross, dying before her very eyes.

Protected?

Angels sang, shepherds came, “Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.”

And the Bible tells the stories of those Whose protection is in the arms of the Most High, those who find refuge in His wings. Peril comes and tragedy strikes and this life is but a vapor, we are protected in the reality of Jesus Christ. The One Who Came, the One Who Saves, the One Who Sits at the Father’s right hand because it is finished. Eternity secured, resurrection promised. Our pain here not minimized but redeemed, our hope finally, finally, we long for the moment, fulfilled.

Let us rejoice in His birth and long for his return,” a friend, one who knows deep loss and rejoices still, just texted me. Yes.

“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. And we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

And it is there I find my protection, there that the Spirit calls us to take shelter in the Arms of the One Who Sent by the blood of the One Who Came. And suddenly my definition of protection is turned on its head, I think of Him glorified and me glorifying and He the Trustworthy and me trusting.

And I don’t need to seek my own safety, build walls for my own protection.

Nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” That is protection. Protection and hope and meaning and life. All things good and restored and new.

So we celebrate today, our protection in God by the coming of the Son, God in the flesh, a notion both more absurd and more right-here-at-my-fingertips than I’ll ever really grasp. He came, He’s coming again. Promises and protection.

So, with great hope and happiness I say, Merry Christmas from the Perrys! We are glad in His goodness and held fast in His protection. Christ the Savior is born.

Perry Christmas 2013

an attempt to savor & believe & celebrate.

it’s the most wonderful, busy, heart-pricking, thought-provoking, tidings of comfort and joy time of the year. i started decorating today, playing Christmas music and letting Owen stomp on bubble wrap as i fluffed garland and thought about who will celebrate in our home this year as we host Christmas dinner for the first time. just moments ago, Owen crawled into my lap with his two stuffed puppies and fell asleep, the sign of a morning well spent.

i suppose i’m feeling a bit sentimental today, although it feels like it’s something a little stronger than that. a need to recognize these days as fleeting, and a desire to savor this snoring 16 month old in all his sweat and sweetness. just yesterday, he handed our foster care application to the postman and stared at his wide-eyed mama as she took the moment in, the official beginning to a countdown, a decision further solidified, a craving and longing and hope and fear mingled and released. i snapped a picture of him holding the envelope before mailing it, a picture that will be sealed in my heart forever as one both precious and presumptuous as we ask our unknowing son to begin an adventure with us that will have immeasurable impact on how he sees his childhood, his parents, others, Jesus, the world.

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are we doing right by him? my timid flesh asks occasionally, and without hesitation the Spirit affirms, yes. teach him to love the least, to steward not own, to care not control, to give not grasp. oh that i could impart to my child that which i daily struggle to learn myself.

we’re walking hand in hand, Owen, Jared and i, and we’re begging the Three in One to knit the three of us more closely together with Him as we open doors and make beds and say hello and goodbye and ask why and shout yes.

Immanuel. God with us.

i’m intent on recording my awareness of just how very near He is this year. how very meaningful His presence on this earth, in a form like yours and mine, was to all eternity and reality, how very comforted i am by the Spirit’s testimony to me daily, hourly, moment by moment of Who God is and what that means about me and for me and in me and through me. a friend reminded me recently that God will continue to call us “further up and further in” [C.S. Lewis] as we follow His voice. perhaps that captures all of these jumbled thoughts best of all. what a fitting season to ponder that truth.

tidings of comfort and joy, indeed.