Come close, dear one, and tell me: what will you call Him this year?

I have a friend who’s an amazing poet who says this Advent has felt much more like Lent.

I don’t know about you, but I feel the same way.

I’ve been overwhelmed this season with the number of friends who are suffering…who have lost friends and family…who are struggling with sickness and despair.

I’m overwhelmed when I see the lonely in hospital rooms…the bruised tormented…the broken crying for relief…the voiceless told to hush.

I struggle because I fear I cannot write about joy without writing about pain. I don’t know if I know how to have one without the other…

…but maybe that’s the point.

What is joy except for the release of despair? What is pain but the reaching for hope? What is loneliness but for the cry for embrace?

What is Christmas but at once the spectacular arrival of a promise and the anguished gift of an only son to a dying world, sent to feel our pain, to hear our loneliness, to drink our despair, to embrace us in the exhale of his last breath?

And so on this Christmas Eve I don’t have answers. I only have a question:

What will you dare call Him?

If you’re happy will you call Him Lord?

If you’re lonely will you call Him Emmanuel?

If you’re desperate, will you call Him Savior?

If you’re a child, will you call Him Friend?

If you’re downcast, will you call Him Hope?

If your life is one battle after another, will you call Him Prince of Peace?

If you’re confused, will you call Him Counselor?

If you’re chained, will you call Him Freedom?

If you’re wandering in darkness, will you call Him Light?

If you’re silent, will you call Him a Song?

If you’re weak, will you call Him Mighty?

If you’ve been broken, will you call Him Justice?

If you’re weak, will you call Him Warrior?

If you’re dying, will you call Him Life?

He is all these things and more, dear friend. My gift to you this Christmas is a prayer…I pray that Jesus Christ meets you in the place in your soul that has no name, no words, no hope. I pray you call on Him, whatever you want to call Him most. He is and can be your Everything.

Listen close, past the bells and choirs.

Look far, past the lights and sparkle.

He is here.

Emmanuel.

God with us.

Alive.

Merry Christmas, friends.

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“Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever…The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine. You will enlarge the nation of Israel,and its people will rejoice. They will rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest and like warriors dividing the plunder. For you will break the yoke of their slavery and lift the heavy burden from their shoulders…For a child is born to us,a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity.”
Isaiah 9:1-7 (NLT)

mourning by morning

strength for
today
and
bright hope for
tomorrow…

great is Thy faithfulness…

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On the great rescue and an unlikely hero.

Rescued.

That’s the word that keeps going round and round in my mind when I think of my friend Peter.

I fell in love with the boy in 2009 when I heard about him through World Next Door (please click here to read all about him there).

I met him in January, 2013.

And we said good-bye to him this week.

Peter was like many boys, happy, funny, tender-hearted, kind. He loved cars and he liked to sing.

Peter was different, too.

Abandoned by his mother, he was alone and filthy and beaten in an orphanage. He was losing hope and growing weaker by the day from the muscular dystrophy which would eventually claim his precious life.

But God had other plans for Peter.

Peter was rescued.

He was adopted by Yuri and Ira Levchenko. He shared a room with a new big brother, Taras. He was surrounded by a brood of other brothers and sisters who adored and cared for him. He was deeply treasured and loved until he passed away July 1.

Peter was rescued.

Again.

Now he can breathe.

He can run.

He can climb trees and swim and sing without getting breathless.

Peter is free.

I’m not sure Peter quite knew how he changed hearts around the world, that he was, in fact, a hero to many. When I met him in January, 2013, he was simply happy to sing Christmas songs and show us the fish in his new fish tank and the matchbox cars he lined up on his bedside table and tell us how much he loved Jesus.

But that’s the best sort of hero, isn’t it?

The one who is least likely to be one.

The one who has no clue he is one.

But the one who is a hero, just the same.

A hero because he was rescued.

And because of Peter’s miracle of a rescue and his response of grace, we who knew him are all a little more confident that we are rescued, too.

In the midst of our own filth, our own weakness, our own flaws and sins and loneliness and pain and breathless searching for peace and a home,

we are each of us–praise God–rescued, still.

*****

He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.

Psalm 18:19

*****

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peter