Changing Gears This Christmas: Part B

November 28, 2020

Written by Shauna Caldwell with Neil Parker

Welcome back for “Part B” of my November 28th article.

The lengthening darkness and the plummeting temperatures signal the onset of the Christmas season. Oh, to cozy up next to a fireplace with a good book and a hot tea!

There is, however, an aspect to this winter darkness that gives a sense of foreboding, as we further tighten COVID restrictions, aware that 500+ Albertans have died. These losses and changes are bringing significant struggles. We are unable to see where we are going. With this blindness comes insecurity, fear and anxiety.

Since our sons’ deaths, I have understood what it is like to being blind. Our experience of loss through death left me disoriented. Like a game of blind-man’s-bluff, I flailed my arms about me in desperate need to find any familiar pathways. When blind, it is hard to move forward with any certainty or speed. The confidence to make decisions and knowing what I want and need, vanishes.

On the day that our boys died, all my normal navigational systems were suddenly and completely knocked out. I found myself in the dark on all fronts: psychologically, spiritually, emotionally and physically.

Grief’s hard blows left me blind, groping my way, inch by inch. I was desperate to see. I cried out for the ability to navigate the terrifying and uncharted road ahead.

I begged God for mercy.

In the Bible (John 9), there was a beggar who had been blind since birth. His ears perked up when he heard a commotion. That popular teacher and miracle worker, Jesus, was coming up the road! He knew this Jesus had the power to heal.

As the crowds started to frenetically push in, he threw away his inhibitions and cried out to Jesus, “have mercy on me!”. Who cared what people were thinking!

This tiny act of belief – this humble plea for mercy – was met with Jesus’ merciful and compassionate response. Jesus healed him! Though he couldn’t explain it all, he simply said, “once I was blind, but now I see” (John 9:25).

I can’t explain everything about how God answered my cry for mercy, but He did. Like the blind beggar, I was slowly restored: spiritually, physically, emotionally, psychologically. My darkness was invaded by light. In my brokenness - asking for mercy - Jesus showed up. He provided clarity when I couldn’t see the road ahead.

My experience has been that He fills me with His hope, providing a supernatural peace that is beyond my comprehension. It is no wonder that in this passage (John 9), Jesus makes the startling proclamation, “I am the light of the world”. Faith in Jesus is not about keeping rules and regulations. It’s about a relationship – His personal involvement in my life. Jesus wants to set me free through a relationship with Himself.

Perhaps like me, you have wished that God would just show up in desperate times and write a clear message in the sky! To rescue you from your current life experience. Perhaps you too want light that will cut through the darkness in your life.

Well, God sure did show up on that first Christmas night when the bright star pierced the sky, guiding the wise men to the place where Jesus lay. A celestial spotlight announced, “Here I am! God with skin on”. Christmas is God’s daring rescue plan for your life. It is the gift of Jesus - Emmanuel - “God with us”.

At Christmastime, we celebrate that God sent His Son to represent Himself, close-up and personal to you and me.

When doing life our own way just doesn’t cut it anymore, we can start to look for meaning. We can be more open to discovering a God who loves us personally. As we approach him with all the pieces in our life and say “help”, He’s there to love us. How does this happen?

It begins by our concept of time. Instead of looking at time as the immediacy of the now - the struggle I’m facing - God says, “look at the big picture”! Time is a bigger idea than you can easily comprehend. Time on this earth is only a blip on your life radar. You are just passing through en-route to eternity. You see, there is so much more than your current life. If you believe “you live and then you die and that’s it” - it makes life so short, empty and meaningless. But if you believe that your life actually is a time to prepare for a life that’s eternal - that’s different!

If you can embrace that your life doesn’t end - that your life on this earth and all that it throws at you is just the beginning - your life takes on a whole new meaning. You are more able to cope with life now, because you have hope in the bigger picture. You and God are living life in partnership - you are not alone. God has rescued you from isolation. God is with you. Forever. He specifically planned for you to live a full and rewarding life. A life in which He loves, accepts and forgives you. God gives you the freedom to choose or to reject Him.

Can I suggest that if you and I get solely focused upon our current “time” we will have a self-directed life. It’s got no bigger perspective than self. It has the potential of being completely self-absorbed on the one hand, or slavishly burdensome on the other. We can either do life completely to please ourselves or, try so hard keeping a list of rules, yet get nowhere.

Enter Jesus. He says: “Come to me every one of you who is weak and burdened, and I will give you rest. Link up with me; together we’ll walk through this life and into eternity. Learn all you can from me, and I will give you deep rest and purpose”.

It begins with you saying “help”, then discovering that God has given you the most life changing gift - a relationship with Jesus, His Son. But a gift isn’t a gift until it is received and opened!

God rescues us from our own darkness by giving us the light of the world. And so, you and I can say “once I was blind, but now I can see”.

If you’d like to discover more about life with Jesus and opening the gift of life that He offers you, here are some ideas:

  • Buy a New Testament and read about Jesus yourself. Begin with the gospel of Mark (it’s the shortest) and go on to Matthew and Luke and John.
  • Read the book by Lee Strobel, “The Case for Christ”, in which the author presents the authenticity of Jesus and a life changed by him.
  • Try a Zoom group of “ALPHA”, sponsored by a church in your community. It is an introduction to Christianity. Just google “ALPHA in a church near me”.