And I said, ‘Have you seen him whom my soul loves?’
Hardly had I left them
When I found him whom my soul loves;
I held on to him and would not let him go.
– Song of Solomon 3:4
The little artificial tree perches on an antique treadle sewing machine, swathed in a red quilt.
A few years ago it began replacing the annual fresh-cut tree from our property when practicality trumped splendor. Its miniature white lights glimmer in the reflection of the plastic icicles dangling awkwardly from its branches. Just three ornaments—this year’s gifts from our youngest daughter—adorn the tree. Dozens more from fifty years of past Christmases will sit out the holiday in the darkness of their tubs and boxes. Time has run out to get them unpacked.
A few gaily wrapped packages gather hopefully around the tree. The bulk of the Christmas presents still wait, unwrapped and hidden, in their boxes in an upstairs bedroom.
Christmas comes hard this year.
It’s not that we don’t like Christmas. We love celebrations. We’re just… tired.
Aren’t you? Like us, you’ve fought the year’s battles for your relationships, your health, and your faith. You stood as evil raged around you like the foul breath of a video game villain. You prayed and cried in the night watches. You clung to every word of your Father as wickedness tore your soul.
The victories have been miraculous but stained with the casualties of war. Deliverance fills you with gratitude, having come with a price: Your innocence lies mingled with blood and tears in the mud. New wars loom on tomorrow’s horizon, and you feel you don’t have the strength to fight again.
You long for Jesus.
You yearn for a quiet place where The Urgent is left to pace outside the door of your pounding heart; where snow covers the scars in soundless wonder; where God whispers in the wind.
Where silence speaks the volumes of His love.
A generation at war shouldn’t feel guilty about being unable to capture the nostalgia of the past while entrenched in today’s battles.
Christmas isn’t about finding the right party tray or gift while your heart lies in tatters. His first coming wasn’t marked with any of the trappings of man. Jesus arrived in the stillness of the night to rend the veil between heaven and earth. Entering the world a servant, He left it a conqueror. He suffered violence, judgment, and death for you. His obedience made your victories possible. The Word He left behind makes the quiet place a reality and eternal life a certainty if you have chosen to accept the gift. He lives in the heart of every believer through the Holy Spirit.
Within you is the holy place for which you search. He lives in the stillness, waiting for you to quit worrying about the Christmas ham, quiet the noise, and enter the sanctuary where cleansing and renewal await in His presence.
He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust
– Psalm 91:1,2 KJV