this Christmas.

I wrote this post two Christmases ago, just before I became pregnant with Gabriel. This post that reminds me of so many things. It reminds me of something I really need no prompting to think upon, that is both a blessing and a curse – the truth that I have never been able to rest inside the quick quips sometimes so prevalent in modern Christianity, inside the expressions of faith that seem to perceive questions as threats, pressing hard as bailing out. I’ve never felt this way more than I do now, but I felt it back then too, this post reminds me. And I’m thankful for that reminder, because sometimes it is hard for me to remember how I thought in those days, those days before Gabriel, his story, our journey. It is near impossible to remember the lenses I donned in order to see the world, attempt to grasp it. It seems now like everything was so different, whitewashed memories tempting me to paint pictures of Egypt as Sara Groves once sang, to think back on that long dead grass as greener than the grass before me now.

The post reminds me that the struggle to truly understand the idea of protection, of what it is to be protected by God, to suffer yet hide in the cleft of the rock, waiting for Him to pass by, has near always warred inside me. The battle wages even now, especially now. And while in certain moments I long for the days of what I thought would be, what I thought December of 2015 would look like, I am taking heart in the fact that the Lord planted seeds of faith in me long before I knew I would need the fruit they would eventually begin to sprout. I am thankful that I was unwilling to accept pat answers, blanket statements when it comes to the things of God, though sometimes I wish I could be satisfied so much more easily. But I can’t, and I’m so very slowly accepting that, accepting all that it means. I need the war. I need the struggle and the battlefield. Because while, yes, it is my call to only be silent as He fights for me, it is also my call to take heart, to put on the armor, to expect trouble. And perhaps the cleft in which I am called to hide, the one in the Rock, is both a haven for rest and camp for preparation, a fount of rejuvenation and a cliff of expectation.

The true light, Who enlightens everyone, was coming in to the world.

Scripture tells us this, and how desperately we need it to be true. Only those who have lived in darkness need the Light. Only those who have seen how black the night can become, how the shadows no longer exist merely outside of them, but have crept inward, dimming their souls as well, only they need the True Light like they need air to breathe.

I have never needed Him more, and I admit now that I have perhaps never understood Him less. But with each day that goes by, I find myself not fearing the questions quite so much. I step out onto the battlefield more sure of my footing, not because I understand my surroundings but because I am sure that my lack of understanding does not limited His God-ness, does not place me on the wrong side of the battlefield, does not change the fact that He has already won and that because I am inside Him, I am victorious as well.

I am not proud of my doubt, but I am not ashamed of it either. And there is something inside me, some little voice, determined to be heard, that urges me to consider that perhaps He has carved out space for my doubt in that rock’s cleft, perhaps that carving is evidence of Him. Perhaps the ground He has prepared that we might wrestle, that I might thrash against Him to see if He is actually there, is His way of helping my unbelief, of showing me that He does not crumble when I question, that He does not shake when I am unsure.

I find Him now to be magnified in my searching, to be exalted in my limitations, to be infinitely wise in my finite frustrations. I am seeking, and I am finding the One Who has found me, Who does not look like I want Him to, Who beckons me to discover that the reality of Him is all the more beautiful, all the more loving, all the more protective than the paltry god figment of my imagination. I’m asking my soul now to come awake, to be soft enough that I may be wooed by Him, to be comfortable in the questions, yes, but at peace in the lack of answers as well. He is more than answers, this is the part of Him I am really just discovering. There is so much of Him to know, yet so much of Him that is Mystery.

The true Light, Who enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

This Christmas, perhaps the greatest enlightenment I need is not the enlightenment of clarity, of questions answered, but of the Light shrouding me in its shimmering brightness, enveloping me in the glory of the Mystery that is the One Who Came. I will never stop pressing, asking, looking. I think I would cease to exist if I did; I do not know myself without questions. But I can know Him without all of the answers. He came into the world, and He is coming again. And perhaps all that I will ask from Him today is for the grace to dwell in the mystery of all that was before that coming, all that is carrying on in this meantime, this chaotic space before He returns.

And perhaps my lack of understanding, my growing awareness of how little I really know of Him, stems from the truth that with every concrete bit of Him that I feel I have obtained, an abstract mountain of mystery comes with it. He is intimately knowable, yet beyond my capacity to grasp. He is not to be contained, and I am not naturally inclined to like that. But He compels me, not simply to like it, but to treasure it, not simply accept it, but to realize its mystic beauty. And I’m deciding now that this Christmas, for me, for my heart and soul and ever probing mind, is not a Christmas for the concrete, but for the questions. It is a Christmas for one truth undeniable, He came, He is coming again, and for being windswept into the swirling power and grace and truth and love and the promise of Peace surrounding the Great Mystery.

Maybe that is what all of this has been, these days of feeling so tossed about, so thrown. Maybe that is what it feels like sometimes to be caught up in the fury of His love, of life with Him. This is a Christmas for thoughts like that. This is a Christmas where I am beholding His place, His magnitude, His Mystery. This is a Christmas where I will not be striving for much else, not at all. And maybe, in the swirling storm and the winds whipping, I will find Him.

Author: Abby Perry

Abby has written for The Gospel Coalition, Christ and Pop Culture, Upwrite Magazine, and The Influence Network. She is the communications coordinator for a nonprofit organization and co-facilitates two community efforts—one promoting bridge-building racial reconciliation conversations and one supporting area foster and adoptive families. Abby graduated from Texas A&M University and currently attends Dallas Theological Seminary. She and her family live in College Station, Texas.

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