‘Mummy, it’s awake time and it’s filled up!’ shouts Rufus as he runs into our bedroom on Christmas Day morning. He’s talking about his stocking. I don’t think he grasped what Father Christmas has to do with anything, so in his mind it somehow got ‘filled up’ and he loved it.
Loved it so much that the next morning ‘awake time’ came with disbelief that there wasn’t a full stocking hanging on his door.
As we look back on 2018, it feels like it has been a full time. Full of adventures, full of emotions, full of ups and downs, and full of the fun that comes with having two little boys. It’s also been full pelt, and so as we approached Christmas and the inevitable stop that comes with sitting, eating, chatting, occasionally walking – on repeat – with family – we were deep down tired.
We’re still tired – mainly emotionally and mentally – from all that’s happened over recent weeks, but we’re thankful for decisions made that mean we’re not speeding straight back into the fray of it all.
Giving the on-the-ground book action a wide berth for the moment means that we’ve also had space to reflect on, and even celebrate, that same fray. To be amazed at how the ministry in the States has been established, and is already being used by God. To love the ways in which God has kept us as it feels like we’ve been thrown from highs to lows and back again. To delight in the people we’ve had the privilege of spending time with along the way.
Christmas carols arrive early doors in our household, and so we’ve been listening to wonderful reminders of joyful ‘God with us’ truths for weeks. ‘O Holy Night’ has been amongst our most played, and I love the second verse as it begins:
‘A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new glorious morn
Fall on your knees…’
Christmas allows us to feel that ‘thrill of hope’ as we love that the ‘new glorious morn’ is coming. Ultimately, the ‘new glorious’ creation. Because of Christ’s birth but all the more because of His death.
As we start 2019, it feels like we’re on hold as we await more visa possibilities and tentatively hope that we might get back to the States. Very tentative for fear of being crushed by further rejection.
Tentative hope is so different to that ‘thrill of hope’ anchored in certain, unchangeable things. We pray that while we wait on applications and attorneys and embassies, we would know how to wait fruitfully and purposefully for that ‘new glorious morn’.
It feels like we’re on hold, treading water even. But we know that God has good works and paths prepared for us whether they be in Lancashire, Yorkshire or even Illinois.