I was caught red-handed, or rather, red-faced in the department store recently. My girls were dawdling behind me, like little ducklings, grabbing and demanding everything in sight, causing a raucous and a scene–and that’s when it happened.
I resurrected Santa in July. Short on time and out of patience, through gritted teeth, I heard myself say, “No! You may NOT have that! Or that. You’re just gonna have to ask Santa for that! (in July?!)” I shared before that I have a tendency to leave my nativity set out for way too long, but this Mama crossed her own line when I pulled Santa out of my bag of tricks far too soon.
But if there’s a writer who could encourage me and set my heart back on the path of timeless truth, and then point to the Christmas tree of the cross–in July–it’s Renee Robinson, author of Seeking Christmas. I met my kindred spirit writing friend in May at a writer’s conference. We shared a short week together, but she sure felt like a long-time friend.
You may have already read her viral post, A Letter to My Boys (The Real Reason I Say No to Electronics). She’s worth the read, I promise. So sip on some sweet iced tea (or hot cocoa if you please), and take in her hope-filled message of love and Christmas– in July!
Days before Christmas break, I sat in the balcony of the theater with my 8-year-old son and the entire 2nd grade to watch a performance of Miracle on 34th Street. Zachary was born with a sparkle in his eye. A true lover of life, his eyes reflect the joy and thrill of Christmas every single day.
Leaning back into my seat, I breathed in deep, inhaling peace, joy, and hope. Yes, this is what Christmas is all about, I thought. The dimming lights quieted the children who slowly took their seats as they watched Santa stumble about the stage. My heart smiled back as I remembered watching this movie every Christmas. It has always been my favorite. Lost in my memories, my ringing phone in a silent theater brought me back.
Exiting the theater as quickly and quietly as possible, I answered the call I had been expecting. It takes only a moment for your world to feel flipped upside down and inside out.
“Mrs. Robinson, we have the results from Zachary’s lab work.” I listened as she relayed the information to me, much of it making little sense. He had fluid around his knee that had been drained. They didn’t know what caused it and ran tests on the fluid.
“Mrs. Robinson, his white blood cell count is very high. We recommend further testing.” I nodded my head, my brain moving too fast for me to know what questions to even ask. I knew I should at least get the count. The ringing phone started the course of turning my world upside down, her next words set my upside down world spinning. “His count is 35,000. A normal range is 0-200.”
Hanging up the phone, I buried my head in my hands and sobbed. Fear didn’t creep in, it burst the door wide open with one swift kick and grabbed a hold of my throat attempting to choke the very breath and life from me. Hope never dies. It fights for us when we are too weak to fight back.
Moments later the arms of teachers and friends wrapped me in their love. And they prayed. Hope never dies. Days of tests. Days of prayer. Days of thinking. Fear always reminding me of what might be. Hope fighting back.
Here is what hope taught me that Christmas season. Hope was born on Christmas. Hope was nailed to a cross. Hope was resurrected to life. Hope can’t die.
No matter the test results. Hope remains. If I face the worst the world offers me, hope stays alive. He came to offer what the world takes from us. The world steals our joy. He offers joy. The world steals our peace. He offers peace. The world takes our hope. He gives hope.
When we root our very lives in the security of his salvation, no test result, no failed relationship, no financial crisis, nothing can take away our hope. Because our hope is not here. Our hope is in what waits for us on the other side of eternity.
The world tries to steal the meaning of Christmas when it sets up display in August. The world tells us Christmas is about the gifts, the parties, the perfect table settings and decorations, the pinterest perfect preschool gifts. While all of this is fun and lovely, I learned the true meaning of Christmas, yet again, when I faced the possibility of losing a gift that God had given to me.
In the quiet of that Christmas season, I came to a true understanding of where my hope comes from, and I thanked God no matter how He decided to answer our prayers. Good news to the test results he didn’t promise me. Yet he did promise me good news. He is the good news.
My hope is in him, not the health of my children. That may be taken at any moment. My hope is in him. My prayer continued to beg for good test results. But my prayer also became, “No matter what you decide, I trust in you. If you answer my prayer with a no, I will still love you. If you answer my prayer with a no, I will not stop trusting you. If you answer my prayer with a no, my hope will remain in you.”
Christmas in July can make me cynical. I’m turning it, flipping it upside down and setting it spinning in my own heart. I won’t let the marketplace steal from me what He was born for. The true meaning of Christmas.
Christmas isn’t just a season that follows Thanksgiving. Christmas is a daily choice we make in our hearts to grab hold of what he was born for. He was born to die for our sins so we could have eternal life. Yes, he was born to die. The true meaning of Christmas can’t be wrapped in a beautiful package. It’s alive in our hearts.
So when I see the advertisements for Christmas in July, I will choose to turn my irritation to praise. The enemy can try to steal Christmas from us, but he can’t. The hope of Christmas is alive and well. Every. Single. Day. If we choose. Christmas in July, Christmas in December, Christmas in the everyday.
P.S. Zachary is fine today. All his tests were normal, for which we praise God. However, we learned our hope is not in anything on this earth, so we praise Him always. In the good. In the bad. All year long.
Check out Renee’s book on Amazon!
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