One Friday night in October, I went to Costco with my two young kids. My husband drove separately to get new tires on his car. It was dinner time (perfect time for warehouse shopping, right?). The wait for the $10 pizzas was crazy long, but we ordered one anyway. I did my shopping. Johnny (11 months) smashed his finger in the cart and got sympathetic stares from strangers as I comforted him. Nora (2.5 years) sang an unrecognizable song with her arms spread wide to an audience of fellow Costco-ers. Meanwhile, my husband’s car was getting new discount tires. After the hour wait, we got our pizza and walked out. It was just an errand-running kind of Friday at the end of a normal week. I walked out with my two children in the massive shopping cart filled with ridiculously large packages of food, husband not far behind, to see something glorious. It stopped me in my tracks, an extraordinary surprise.
There it sat, an awe-inspiring gift perfectly painted in the October Florida sky. The swirls of pink clouds reached up, stretching to the heavens. They hovered there, on display, the pink overlaying a pale yellow burst of last light under a blue-gray expanse. Others stopped to stare with us. Of course we got out our phones and tried to capture the beauty of it. But you never really can, can you? After a few minutes the masterpiece gave way to darkness; the sunset was gone.
This life, even this special advent season, can begin to feel basic, lose its luster. As mothers and wives, followers of Jesus, we so want to do our best. We want to be vessels of transcendence, lifting our family’s gaze to something more glorious. All the while, we are still waiting and wondering, just plodding along to the next thing, and often we get bogged down.
Even today, on Christmas, the ordinary responsibilities remain. Nap times likely still need to happen. Cups still need to be refilled. Little hearts still need to be directed and counseled. On top of that ordinary, we will layer some crazy, as well--delayed meal times, extra indulgences or rebukes from well-meaning relatives, all the relationship dynamics, responsibilities to host or prepare or be there, the extra eyes to measure your gratitude or mothering skills. And beneath all the activity, you may also be grieving, lonely or on the edge of despair. Even today, on Christmas, we can get bogged down in all that we have going on--our thoughts and plans.
But, when I walked out of Costco on Friday night, God cut through my mundane. He lifted my eyes to the heavens. With the beauty of his sunset, with his glory written in the sky, he reminded me that one day the sky will be rolled back as a scroll and the Son will appear again. This time, he will not come quiet and lowly. He will not restrain himself in meekness, God in a tiny baby’s body, willfully submissive to the authorities of earth and frailties of mankind. The curtains of the sky will open on the last day, revealing his transcendent splendor. He will come with the sound of clashing thunder and rushing rivers, a multitude singing, “Hallelujah! He reigns!” forevermore. His glory will shine as bright as the sun. Trumpets will peal and angels will shout (1 Thessalonians 4)! He will come to deliver you, his beloved, once and for all. You will be freed from every fear, every anxiety, every need, every false hope, every insecurity. It will be the end of racism, misunderstandings, malice, mental illness, children dying, terrorism, poverty, and every kind of darkness. He will free you. He will put an end to all evil.
So sister, let me urge you this Christmas day, even with all that you are feeling and all you feel responsible for, open your eyes to the significance of what we celebrate. Lift your eyes. Look for the hints of his glory to come. For really, what is Christ’s birth but beauty breaking into the mundane on a cosmic level, an intersection of a holy God and sinful humanity that literally changes the course of history and your own story forever. At the last, at glory, that very same God will break into the mundane for one last time, but this time our gaze will not fall from the beauty ever again. Finally, our faith will be sight; our prayers will be turned to praise. Oh, what a gift that will be!
QUESTIONS FOR APPLICATION/ REFLECTION:
- Christmas causes us to reflect on Christ’s first coming, but how much time do you spend thinking about his second coming? Why might this be an important activity?
- Jesus doesn’t just deliver us from all that we have discussed, he delivers us to a new heavens and new earth with no conflict, sickness, sorrow, pain, or death. What aspect of this world to come is most relieving/exciting to you?
- Song suggestion: The Sands of Time Are Sinking “The bride eyes not her garment but her dear Bridegroom’s face. I will not gaze at glory but on my King of Grace, not at the crown he giveth but on his pierced hand. The Lamb is all the glory of Immanuel’s land."
Caroline Jackson has been married to her husband, Kelly, since 2011. Their children, Nora (born 2015) and Johnny (born 2016), are sweet and stubborn, and make them laugh and pray more than anything else. After six years ministering to college students in Mississippi, the Jacksons moved to Tallahassee in 2017 where Kelly accepted a call as RUF Campus Minister at Florida State University. Between serving her family and helping in Kelly’s work, Caroline enjoys making cozy corners in their home, sneaking away to do anything alone, and, every now and then, painting!