This Christmas, I feel as if I’ve been given two gifts: one is a bag of coal, and one is a bag of diamonds.
When I’m looking into the first bag, the world is very dark indeed. There is no Bible passage I might read, no stirring liturgy I might hear, and no sermon stirringly preached that would shine sufficient light into the darkness. I can absorb any high-minded truth and remain unaffected. God is good, you say? Well, he’s not good enough. Powerful? Toward what end? Jesus is the Word, and the Light, you say? Well what is he saying, and what is he shining, exactly? A coming Kingdom? Not soon enough. During the wonderful Christmas Eve service we attended, I was tempted to grab the microphone and cut through the sweetness with my own version of reality.
But if I peek into the second bag, I am awestruck. During this very same service in which I was sliding down into a pit, I needed only to glance down the aisle at my dear Girl to be delivered to thankfulness and celebration. She is a bright light, and a delight to all who gather around her. A gift of grace bestowed on a bitter man after many years of hoping and trying. An utterly undeserved treasure. A life of inestimable value which brings me hope and happiness and joy.
As I sway back and forth between missing my Boy and celebrating my Girl, I feel very much like I’m being torn in two. Somehow, I know that I need to accept both gifts. I can’t look at one without feeling the weight of the other, and I can’t set either one aside. This is life. They are both true gifts from a very real God. I might not like it, and I might not like him too much at the moment, but that is what this is.