December 25, 2012
I have been mourning the loss of my “real” dad bit by bit over the past few years, since he began showing signs of some form of dementia. He still knows my mom and us kids. He’s pretty good with the grandchildren, but the great-grands are cute little kids and he wonders who they are. Last Saturday, when I got word that he was in the hospital, I feared the worst—my grandpa died on December 23rd and now it looked like my dad may do the same. When we got to the hospital and saw how he looked (gray) and sounded (like he had milkshake in his lungs) I was sure it was going to be another sad Christmas which would shadow our family for years to come. This is the time of year we all want to make happy memories with our families, and I had plans that did not include a catastrophic illness. I’m not one to ask, “Why me” or “Why now?” But I strongly feel that people shouldn’t die at Christmas—there should be a reprieve for at least a couple weeks in either direction.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the grave. I started to see Jesus in ways I never had. Instead of feeling surrounded by darkness, I feel surrounded by light. Instead of seeing Christ’s birth as an event to celebrate, I am seeing his whole life as the celebration. As I see Excessive American Christmas everywhere, I don’t even mind, because know what Christmas is really about and my mind is sort of skimming over His birth and death and going straight to His resurrection.
Have you ever been in an urgent situation—alone at the side of the road, out of gas . . . standing at customer service with a red face and a cart full of un-paid-for groceries . . . stuck in an elevator—and suddenly you see the familiar face of your rescuer. It’s your spouse with a gas can, or your kid with your checkbook that had fallen on the floor, or the elevator repair guy. You are flooded with relief and joy as you say, “OH, you’re here!”
As I’ve prayed for my parents, not knowing what to expect (and really not expecting much), instead of overwhelming fear and sadness at the contrast between happy Christmas festivities and a hospital room, I see the face of Jesus our Rescuer and I think, “OH, you’re here!” And I am flooded with relief and joy.