God’s Gifts in Strange Packages

This year sure has had its ups and downs. On one hand it was great to be able to connect again with some of our global team members, but this was overshadowed by the heartache of the war and not being able to meet our team members from both Ukraine and Russia where we have spent so much time in the last two decades. As so many plans in the last few years, our retreat in Turkey had to postponed as coaches from both countries could not leave their countries.

Personally, we have also had our own losses, having to bury a sister, niece and many good friends. I am sure you also have had your own fair share of highs and lows. So as we anticipate celebrating Christmas and the end of 2022 it is with both reflection on the past as well as anticipation of what the next year holds. For so many, the last few years have taken their toll in many ways and sometimes all the changes can feel overwhelming. Often at the times we need it the most, the “heavens” seem silent.

I am sure this was what the Jewish people felt like before the miracle of Bethlehem and Emmanuel – God coming to tangibly be with us. Those too were dark days. God had been silent with his people for some 400 years. But then in a very unassuming, yet profound, way He showed up. Yet it was not in the way that they were expecting. He can as a vulnerable baby not a powerful ruler. Yes, He was the answer they needed, but wrapped up in a package they could not comprehend. I wonder how often God sends us answers that we need, but often at the time cannot comprehend?

Of course, with enough hindsight God’s plan always seem to make sense. With the passage of enough time his “gifts” to us will become more obvious, regardless of how painful they may seem at the time. So often in the middle of the storms and the battles of life, God can seem far away and his “answers” are often not obvious and sometimes don’t even make sense. While they may become more clear on this side of eternity, true clarity will only come when we get to our true home and see him face to face.

So as we reflect this Christmas season, may we be reminded that he is with us even during the times when we may not understand his ways. As surely as he cared for us by sending his only Son as a babe that became our perfect sacrifice, he will care for us in our daily lives as he personally guides us on our earthly journey. He has not changed, he is faithful. In time his plan in our lives will become as obvious as the story of Christmas is for us today. And that is with only 2000 years of perspective. Imagine how clear things will become once we enter eternity and see him face to face.

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