Saturday, January 9, 2016

Remembering and Anticipating

As I walked into our family room this morning I flipped on the switch that illuminates our Christmas tree and wondered if it would be for the last time this season. We tend to leave up our Christmas decorations longer than most, at least through Orthodox Christmas in honor of my grandmother, but now even that is past.

Yet I couldn’t resist a final stroll around the tree, reminiscing of Christmases past and looking forward to future celebrations, for the brilliant light radiating from the tree invited me to pause for a moment and reflect in the beauty and special meaning of its ornaments.

The angel atop the tree, proclaiming the Good News of the Saviour’s birth (Luke 2:10-11). Mary, Joseph, and the Holy Child in the manger (Luke 2:12-16), because there was no room for them in the inn (Luke 2:7). May the room of my heart always be open and welcoming to receive Him. The miniature Bible, for Jesus is the Word Who became flesh (John 1:1-14)

The cake inscribed with “Happy Birthday Jesus,” reminding us that He is the reason for the season. The cross, because He was born to die, to be the perfect sacrifice to save us from our sins (Romans 3:25; Hebrews 7:27; 9:26). And, praise God, the empty tomb! He rose from the dead, proving He was the Son of God, to give all who trust Him eternal life! (1 Corinthians 15:1-4; John 3:16).

Yet the ornaments also reminded me that He came to give us not only eternal life, but abundant life here and now (John 10:10), from the moment we are born again (John 3:3-8). Every ornament that caught my gaze reminded me of a special, unique blessing. Those given to me long ago call to mind the love, thoughtfulness and generosity of the givers – my mother, and many others no longer with us. Many left this earth long before I was saved, so I don’t know whether they knew Christ, but I hope they did so that we will meet again in Heaven.

A porcelain medallion, “Our First Christmas Together,” for the year God brought my husband and I together, and a key chain from San Juan, Puerto Rico, where we met. That year completely changed my life from bleak hopelessness to the thrill of new love and anticipation for a bright future.

A silly felt Rudolph reindeer we picked up at a McDonald’s pit stop as Richard drove me and all my belongings from New York to Florida to begin a new life here with him.  Rudolph sat on the dashboard throughout the trip like a protective watchdog, guarding us through getting lost in Newark, snow storms, engine trouble, and finally having the trailer containing all my furniture stolen.

It was decades before either of us would be saved, but still that reindeer reminds me of God’s provision (Psalm 37:25, Matthew 6:8) protection (Psalm 91:10-12), and perfect plan (Jeremiah 29:11), working all things together for good for those foreknown to be His children (Romans 8:28).

Photo ornaments capturing our son as a toddler; our dance performance in Russia in 1992 as the only amateurs on a professional cultural exchange tour sharing American style dance with thousands of Russians; our audition for Silver Stars in 2014 that resulted in a solo performance at the Grand Old Opry.

Mementos of our son as he grew from a precocious child to a Godly young man: first the curious infant bouncing and exploring on his walker. Then a felt London bobby, to commemorate our Christmas shopping trip to the toy department at Harrod’s when he was four. A wooden piano and guitar inscribed with his name, for God blessed him with musical gifts from an early age. Aladdin and Princess Jasmine, representing a dance my son and I performed when he was only six years old.

The ornaments he made us of popsicle sticks painstakingly glued together and painted as a snowflake, and a felt mitten proclaiming Psalm 103:5: He fills my life with good things. How very fitting! Later an eagle that he traced on metal and inscribed with “On Eagle’s Wings,” (Isaiah 40:31) to commemorate our Theatre Arts dance to that song.

A porcelain ornament of a front door, with the address and date of his first apartment, painted in gold. And now he has embarked on a successful career, has his own house, and is engaged, but praise God, he and his lovely bride-to-be still spend quality family time with us, including our joyous Christmas celebration this year!

Ornaments symbolizing our dance ministry to glorify God: a Nativity and star for “Silent Night” and “O Holy Night.” A heart bursting with flames, and an ice crystal in blue glass, for “Fire of the Spirit” (“melts the heart of ice”). A butterfly for “Transformed,” representing the change in every believer who becomes a new creation in Him (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15). A graceful ballerina and toy soldier, reminding us of “Christmas Toys Come Alive,” portraying the change from being dead in sin to having new life in Christ (Romans 6:11).

And ornaments from places we have been blessed to visit across the globe, whether performing in Japan, Hong Kong, and Italy; hiking through national parks in Utah; or sightseeing in Ireland, France and Switzerland. 

Truly God has given us richly all things to enjoy! (1 Timothy 6:17) He has entrusted us with many treasures here on earth (James 1:17), but these are only temporary. May we store up treasures in Heaven to enjoy throughout eternity, and may our heart be in heavenly places until then (Matthew 6:19-21).

My stroll around the Christmas tree and down Memory Lane brought to mind a much earlier time -- the evening before our son was born. I walked around the nursery, which we had lovingly prepared and decorated, and I sat in the rocker where I would cradle him in my arms. As I checked all the drawers I had filled with baby clothes, diapers, and other necessities, I imagined what life would be like once he was actually here.

What glorious anticipation! And yet, there is an even more momentous event I am awaiting – the return of Our Lord Jesus Christ, to call up His children at the Rapture to meet with Him in the air! (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17) Then in a moment we shall all be changed, given glorified bodies that will never age, weep, feel pain, or die (1 Corinthians 15:51-54). Then we shall rule and reign with Him and our loved ones in Him throughout eternity!

Come quickly, Lord Jesus! (Revelation 22:20) And while we await your return, may we remember your faithfulness (1 Samuel 7:12; Psalm 30:4; 102:12; John 14:26), abundant blessings, and freely given gift of salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9). May we live each day as if it were our last, doing all to your glory!

© 2016 Laurie Collett
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Frank E. Blasi said...

Dear Laurie,
I am impressed with how you can relate various items on a Christmas tree with different events throughout your life, both before and after conversion.
But just as important is that you now recognise that even before your conversion, God was watching you, even when you suffered that dreadful loss when you moved to Florida from New York. This is the sort of thing which has made me believe that God allows disasters among unbelievers to give them the opportunity for them to call upon the name of the Lord and be saved (Romans 10:13) - although believers are not exempt from bad events either, as Job can attest.
But as I can testify in my childhood, I recall the moment I wanted to know this "good man" Jesus Christ at such a young age. But it took many more years before conversion came, at age 20 years, after a period of teenage atheism.
As God said to the prophet Jeremiah at the time of his calling, "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, before you were born, I set you apart; I appointed you a prophet to the nations." 1:4-5.
This is such a wonderful truth, as if this is true for one man, then God is character-bound to apply this to all believers - e.g. John 15:16, 17:6, etc - being one of many reasons why I believe in eternal security of the believer.
An excellent post. God bless.

Laurie Collett said...

Dear Frank,
I totally agree that God goes to great lengths to capture the attention of the nonbeliever, as my husband and I have witnessed through the years in the life of one of our unsaved friends. And He can use trials in the life of the believer to strengthen our faith, draw closer to Himself, make us more into Christ's image, and have compassion and wisdom to help those going through similar trials. Praise God that He had a unique, wonderful plan for each of His children even before we were conceived.
Thanks as always for your encouragement and for sharing your Bible-based wisdom. God bless,

Donald Fishgrab said...

Great post, Laurie.
I agree with Frank about how God worked in your life even before you knew him, preparing to draw you to him.

You mentioned the anticipation of your son's arrival, yet I am sure that the actual blessing of having him far exceeded your expectations. I am sure Christ's return will exceed our anticipation and expectations by even more. As he said, we can't even begin to imagine what he has prepared for us.

Laurie Collett said...

Amen, Donald -- the reality of my son's being with us has brought so many blessings that I could not even have imagined. And yet, he, like all of us, has the limitations and disappointments of still having a sin nature. Imagine what it will be like when we are face to face with Jesus Christ, freed forever from death and even the presence of sin, to enjoy Him, one another, and all He has prepared for us throughout eternity. God bless,