It’s no accident that God invited shepherds to be part of Jesus’ “welcome to Earth” celebration.
This same baby would grow up to be a friend to so many that society had rejected or left on the fringes… and to ultimately be the Good Shepherd who laid down his life for the same.
I’m thankful to be one of those outsiders who have now been brought in, one of those forgotten who has been remembered, one of those lost who has now been found.
What those shepherds saw nestled in that manger hay was Hope with skin on.
They witnessed a new chapter, a new beginning.
When all seemed lost, God made a way.
The babe who would be king.
Born that night.
The other night, something choked me up.
I was working downstairs and listening as my oldest son Eli and my daughter Eden played above me.
Eli is a senior in high school and Eden is in first grade. Yes, there’s so much more to that story (and kids in between), but that will come later.
As I listened to them wrestling around and having a tickle fight, Eden’s squeals were resonating through our hardwood floors (everything resonates through our floors 🙂 ), and I could hear the joy in her voice as they went back and forth.
I laughed as she kept switching between “Stop, stop!” and “Tickle me, tickle me!”
I love that they have that kind of relationship and I especially love Eli’s heart and the kind of brother that he is to Eden. I know she looks up to him in so many ways and treasures her time with him.
All good stuff. Right?
It’s what you want as a parent. Your kids enjoying each other, getting along, having fun.
But what got me was the ominous thought that Eden doesn’t fully realize that the current state of things will only be around for so long.
She has three brothers in high school, with Eli being a senior.
Change is on the horizon and the family dynamic will begin to change in the years to come.
I got choked up because I realize the gravity of that. I realize that our boys are getting older and will soon be venturing out into whatever God has in store for them next.
I’m excited for them and I know their lives have been leading up to this. They were meant for this. Meant to leave the nest.
I know as a parent this has been what we’ve been pouring into them for, preparing them for.
Change is Inevitable
I got choked up because, though I know change is inevitable and often brings new opportunities, it’s still hard for me to think about letting go of this snapshot of our lives right now.
That night, in that moment, everything in me wanted to just freeze time, to not let it end.
Everything in me wanted to hold on tighter.
I got choked up because of how God can remind us how we’re blessed, even when we feel like we’ve blown it or are struggling.
Honestly, as I worked downstairs, I was dealing with a lot of negative thoughts swirling around in my mind… who I was as a father among those.
Hearing the laughter from above reminded me that things were OK, that we’ve got good kids and the seeds of love planted over the years have sprouted up (and continue to keep sprouting bigger and bigger when it comes to our teens 🙂 ).
I smiled as my heart turned to thankfulness for what God had brought about.
Yes, things are going to change sooner than I’d like. And yes, Eden’s world will be different when they do.
But I’m ready to step into that new stage when it comes… in time.
For now, I’m savoring the Eden giggles and her time with our “bigs” as they navigate the high school years.
What about you? Are you able to savor those moments well while not thinking ahead? Share below in the comments…
Heaven is going to be awesome.
Golden streets… with no potholes or orange barrels.
No more tears or pain (which probably means that some of my favorite local sports teams either won’t be there or that they’ll just be a lot better).
Reunited with those we’ve lost. I imagine the joy of those first embraces with ones who have left this life before us.
Beauty beyond imagination. Mountains, streams, brilliant skies, rainbows.
Bacon. I’m absolutely certain that there will be bacon. I mean, why wouldn’t there be? Seriously, there will be bacon… right?
At home with my God. No more separation or things pulling my heart from being wholly connected to Him. At peace. Fully loved.
Everything about Heaven gets me excited… except one thing.
Yep. I’m not sure why, but every time I start thinking about what happens after this life, the same thing happens.
I daydream about all the joys of Heaven and how we’ll be able to enjoy them… for…ev…er.
That last part always hangs me up.
I’m good until I think about the fact that there’s no end.
I know it shouldn’t bother me.
I mean, imagining an eternity where my Cleveland Browns won the Heavenly Super Bowl almost every year (come on, if they didn’t lose it every now and then the luster would wear off) seems pretty awesome.
But it’s like my brain tries to open the “eternity” app in my mind and just sits there with the hourglass spinning.
Maybe it’s how we’re wired
When it comes to my fear of eternity, I think it comes down to how we’re wired and what we’ve always known.
Whether we realize it or not, we’re prisoners of the finite. We live by calendars, by what’s “next”, schedules, planners, reminders.
“What’s coming up next week?”
“When is Easter this year?”
“How old are you?”
“Do you have a few minutes to talk?”
Everything we’ve ever known comes down to a reality ruled by the second hand.
Even as you read this,
minutes (because you’ve actually been savoring each word, right 🙂 ) okay, precious seconds have gone by you won’t get back.
And even as your eyes jump from word to word, you’re thinking about what’s coming up today, tomorrow, next week.
We’re wired that way. To understand life within the bounds of time.
I’ve come to realize for me, what it comes down to is trust.
Just like so many other things in life, I believe this is an area where God is asking me to just trust him.
It’s as if He’s saying “I know you don’t understand now, but when I make all things new your mind will instantly switch over and you’ll get it”
If you went back 2000 years and cautioned Jesus’ disciples to not tweet out things on the interwebs they would regret tomorrow, they would just stare back at you.
The number of things you’d have to walk with them through to get them to understand would be mind-blowing (electricity, computers, phones, selfies, Twitter, Kardashians, and on an on).
They just wouldn’t get it. Their minds wouldn’t be able to comprehend.
And I think it’s the same with me and eternity.
I know my mind can’t handle it right now. It just short circuits with “but what happens next?” questions that freeze it up.
And while the concept of an All You Can Enjoy Forever Heaven Buffet sounds amazing, my engineering mind is wired to understand, to open up the box, look behind the curtain. I want to know how it works.
But for now, I know I won’t be able to.
And I’m okay with that… most days.
I can’t wait
All of that being said, I still daydream.
I dream about the day when God will make transormation in my brain.
When the light will come on inside and I will finally get it.
When I will realize I had nothing to be afraid of… and can begin to enjoy what I was truly created for… what all of us were truly created for.
An eternity with a God who created us and has been waiting to restore things to how they were meant to be.
Free of sin, selfishness, pain, hatred, loss, frustration, disappointment, separation.
An eternity to enjoy the pleasures of a new world with the One who loves us most.
I can’t wait.
What about you? Do you ever think about Heaven? Share below in the comments…
for all those who have ever read a bedtime book to a little human…
STORY TIME… A LITTLE POEM
I scan through the books that I’ve tossed on the floor
In search of the right one for reading
It takes me a while here to sift through the crumbs
From the cracker I’d previously been eating
At last I uncover the most perfect story
And grab it with fingers so tiny
There’s pictures and letters, it’s just the right length
So we’ll finish before I get whiny
With the book in my hand I return to your chair
and climb up in your lap that’s so cozy
There’s less room on here, “Have you gained a few pounds?” I think
But don’t want to be nosey
I lay my head back on your chest for a moment
Relaxed as I feel your heart beating
Then I flip to the first page so there’s no mistaking
It’s time that we get started reading
You read about cows and that circle that’s blue
I’m so proud of how well you are doing
But don’t try to fool me, I know all your tricks
The dogs aren’t the ones that are “mooing”
We look through the pages and I’m getting sleepy
I think that it’s time for some z’s
I’ll just close one eye as you skip to the end
In your arms here I feel so at ease
You think I’m asleep as you put down the book
And you carry me up to my bed
I’m loving each moment as you lay me down
And you kiss me on top of my head
A tribute to those brave moms and dads who have faced… The Diaper Change
ODE TO THE DIAPER CHANGE
As you walk through the room, you can tell without thinking
That someone in diapers has just started stinking
You try to take cover, to hide out of sight
But then you think “No, that just wouldn’t be right”
“Hey honey!” you call out, “your baby needs changing”
“I’ll be in the garage doing some re-arranging…”
A lack of reply from your spouse tells you quickly
This one’s all on you, sir, so better act swiftly
You follow your nose to the one that’s offending
The stench is so strong here, no time for pretending
You reach down and rescue your smelly young peanut
Exclaiming out loud, “Wow that’s strong!”, and you mean it
With baby in hand and an urgency pressing
You rush to the table and start the undressing
Of course, now you realize that this is the day
That layers and layers of clothes are in play
So you pull and unsnap and then slide off the garments
To only find out to your shock and alarm that
What you thought was simple is now more complex
A “blowout” has you in a state of duress
You trudge on in spite of the setback you’re facing
With wipes as your weapons there’s no need for pacing
You’ve trained for this moment and execute quickly
Though fumes from the diaper have you feeling sickly
But soon you are done and your task is completed
The baby is changed and now you’re warmly greeted
With hugs and some kisses from your little treasure
A thank you that’s worth more than all you can measure