We just finished the Thanksgiving season with all the family gatherings, delicious food, and lots of photo opportunities. Now the oranges and golds are being replaced by the reds and greens of Christmas. More pictures to come, for sure!
Already our social media is brimming with the pictures that others are sharing of their Christmas decorations. So much beauty and creativity! I love doing that every year, sharing the warmth and glow of the season.
But the brightness all around us, even if we only see it in a photo, sure can make the other side of life seem even darker than usual.
Other’s picture-perfect moments, if compared to some of ours, seem off-the-chart wonderful…and ours. Well, the line on our chart is going in the opposite direction. Way down.
Several years ago, I saw this picture of Mary and Joseph after the birth of baby Jesus. It’s probably the most accurate portrayal of the nativity that I have ever seen.
The call of God on their lives to be the earthly parents of Jesus came at a huge cost to them. They knew that their reputations would forever be tarnished. Gossip and judgmental stares would be their lot.
But can you imagine the long trip to Bethlehem for the census? The discomfort, hunger, dirt, and fear?
Then the baby being born in an animal stable. We don’t know for sure, but did they have help delivering baby Jesus? How Mary must have wished for her mother to be beside her!
Can you imagine how alone they must have felt? No family that we know of to surround them with love and care. No beautiful nursery ready for baby Jesus. No comfort of a soft bed for Mary or Jesus. No kitchen full of food, or a meal train at the ready.
Joseph and Mary submitted without reservation to God’s call on their lives. That special call might seem sweet and incredible to us but to them I can pretty safely assume that on most days it was anything but that.
Over this past week, mixed in with all the beautiful pictures of family gatherings, I was receiving other pictures from our dear friends.
Dan and Wendy have loved and cared for their Elijah (Speedy) for many years. Speedy has an extremely severe form of Epilepsy. He was hospitalized yet again during Thanksgiving, for six days.
Lots of tests.
Still, lots of unanswered questions.
Always, always there is so much love from these amazing parents for their Speedy.
But the pain…the grief…is so real.
Wendy and I talk a lot. We speak the same language that comes from special needs parenting. We can be real with each other.
We understand what Dale Davis was saying in his commentary on the book of Luke when he talked about the benediction in Hebrews 13:20-21…about the part that says may God “do in us what pleases Him.”
That part is scary because we don’t know what it is that will please God.
Can we be like Mary, though, and submit to God’s will for our lives?
“May it be done to me according to Your word,” Mary replied as she was called to be the mother of God’s Son.
“Submission is preferable to consolation, for consolation pleases us, but submission pleases God.” (Thomas Hog, 1692)
Let that sink in.
There are so many times that I would far rather have the photo worthy moments of family and fun and excitement and adventure and beauty to be the posts of my life.
Not the incomplete family photos.
Not the tiredness…anger…frustrations…comparisons…resentments that often accompany this special-needs life.
How about you? What is it in your life that you feel isn’t photo worthy?
What would you gladly trade in for a more beautiful shot?
Somehow, though, I know that God looks down on our broken and He sees the very people and things that bring Him the most glory and the most joy.
He sees way beyond this temporal into a plan for each life that goes far beyond what we will ever know on this old earth.
And that’s what is eternally photo worthy.