Holy night . . .
It was a night like no other, a holy night. God, the Father, sent His Son to this earth as a baby, to bring peace and salvation to all humankind. The Messiah was swaddled and placed in a manger, housed in a stable. (Luke 2:4-7)
Let’s just stop right there. Don’t you wish all stories were this sweet?
Anyone for warm, fuzzy slippers or a soft, comfy blanket? Give me a quick minute to pour myself a coffee (or maybe, a peppermint mocha?). Whatever your fav, let’s meet back here for a cozy, not-so-sweet story.
All is calm . . .
As our family stood poised to embark on a “family-owned business” adventure, very little seemed calm! “The opportunity of a lifetime” presented itself and we dived into the deep waters of “unknown.” Expectations were high, but we were unequipped to navigate the rough waters ahead.
The franchise owner said, “We need to move quickly!” (Uhmm, rocky waves and red flags? Yes, everywhere!) And before we knew it, we were on our way to owning a donut shop on the quaint side of town . . . location, location, location (it’s real, y’all!).
Shepherds quake . . .
While it should have been an exciting journey, it was also filled with anxiety and fear of the unknown. Never before had I so easily identified with early church preacher and apostle Paul, as he set sail on a fraught voyage to Rome. I imagined Paul standing at the bow of the sailing vessel, weighed down by a growing sense of foreboding as he gazed at the darkening sky. (Acts 27:1-8)
I understood the feeling.
In the midst of fearful circumstances, my heart echoed the psalmist’s cry:
“My God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,
By night, yet I have no rest.”
Everything happened so fast and soon spiraled out of control. From looking for rental spaces to purchasing equipment (refrigerators, freezer, ovens, mixers, sinks) to interviewing potential employees, life was a chaotic mess. However, like the crew aboard the ship with Apostle Paul, we had a plan and we pushed on. (Acts 27:9-13)
Then came the day we cut the tape for the Grand Opening. We were all smiles, but deep within, our hearts continued to quake with fear.
Within a few months, customers dwindled.
Employees weren’t doing their jobs.
We were exhausted.
Income was scarce.
This was not what the franchise owner said would happen, and certainly not what we expected. We were trying to keep our heads above water, maybe even drift a bit and land on solid ground . . . ? But, just like Paul, we were sinking! (Acts 27:14-19)
My mind was a battlefield. While I dredged the waters, they were overtaking me. Sinking deeper, I withdrew, using the excuse my family needed me. Taking care of the home front was what I knew, so I pressed on there. Busyness kept my mind from dwelling on what was happening. How was I to see above the waves?
My husband carried on the early mornings, the late nights, the employees’ shifts, and paydays. Little did I realize what he was going through — a battlefield in the mind, body, and spirit. He was in deep waters, with no chance of a lifeboat. How was he to get out of these waters? (Acts 27:20-34)
But then, shipwreck! (Acts 27:39-44) Our egos were splintered like Paul’s ship run aground; our family was in shambles. Still, God was allowing a teachable moment in the midst of our wreckage!
(Now is a great time to take an intermission: let’s get our hearts and minds focused on Who can weather our storms. “In the Eye of the Storm” by Ryan Stevenson)
Sleep in heavenly peace . . .
Yes, we were devastated.
Yes, we lost everything.
God took control, and spoke into our storm, “Be still.” He promised us survival. Our family would be saved to higher ground, landing in safety under His wings. (Psalm 46:4-7)
This is why even in the chaos, we can sleep in His heavenly peace! It truly was a “Glorious Unfolding.” (Steven Curtis Chapman)
Ok, sweet sister friends, what does all this have to do with Messiah’s birth and a silent, holy night?
The truth is, there wasn’t much of anything calm or sweet about the night of Jesus’ birth.
Here’s my story’s connection…
He was born amidst the hustle of ordinary life and the hassle of a national census.
He was born into political oppression and economic struggle.
He was born into a faith so mangled and twisted by the humans who held it as to be nearly unrecognizable.
He was born into a shipwrecked humanity,
“jammed fast and [. . .] immovable” (Acts 27:41) into the sandbar of sin, a humanity who could only be rescued by God.
And so God came.
“Son of God, love’s pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord at Thy birth!
Jesus, Lord at Thy birth!”
Sinless Jesus would pay the price for our sins with His death, and with His resurrection, He would break the shipwreck of sin and drowning us to our death.
Redeeming grace, born of God’s incomprehensible and radiant love for us, would be the light guiding us home. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Now, do you need a coffee refill? Or a tissue? Here, I have both…
(God showed my husband the parallels to Acts 27 after our business venture. Also, the song links listed in this story were the same songs God gave us to anchor our souls to His lifeboat. We learned to praise and worship more during this time!)
Worship XII, Day 4
Just as He led the Israelites through the wilderness in a column of fire.
Time after time, the one true God came to meet with His created people and make a way. Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, came as a defenseless baby.
A God-man, born to live, then to die, and come back to life again, so that all who repent of their sin and put their trust in Him may have eternal life, and life abundant.
Praise God, Christ the Savior is born!
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