Go home, January! No one likes you.

“The people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light…”
(Matthew 4:16)

You know, back in December, I really didn’t mind the cold and the snow all that much.  The Christmas lights at night made the snow look magical. The love and joy of the season warmed our hearts, and so the wind didn’t bother us as much.  While everyone was hectic, crazy busy, it’s all okay because everyone’s also trying to make sure their getting together with their family, friends, and all the one’s they love.  Just thinking about it now and suddenly I hear Karen Carpenter singing again, which makes me smile. Christmas made December not just tolerable, but something to love and long for.

What’s January got?  Nothing.  Absolutely nothing.

Face it, it’s just cold, wet, and windy.  There’s no romance or sentimentality to it – it’s just one big angry polar vortex after another, freezing your nose hairs the instant you step outside.  We’re still busy, but now it just an annoyance to have to go out for one more thing.  There’s still snow on the ground, but all that means is more shoveling, slipping and sliding, and pretty soon it will turn to a brownish muck as it slowly melts away.  There’s no soundtrack to make this month and all its brutal frigidness any better.  Don’t even try. Go home, January, I think we’ve overstayed your welcome.

Am I the only one who feels this way?  Does Christmas really make that much of a difference in the way we handle things?  Well, maybe it does.

Think about it: Christmas, with all of its tinsel and trappings, is the celebration of the incarnate Word of God, Jesus the Christ, Emmanuel, God with us.  At Christmas we are reminded that those who have dwelt in darkness, upon them a light has shined. At Christmas we take the time to focus on the joy that made the angels sing, the grace that came to seek and to save the lost, the love that moved even the stars in the heavens to announce his coming.

But what happened at Christmas doesn’t stay at Christmas. Christ’s coming changes everything.  We know now that sin has been defeated and by faith in Christ we are made new. We know now that there is grace and forgiveness – with God and for one another – so that we may be one body in Christ. We know now that there is good news to proclaim which will warm the hearts of all who hear.

Jesus changes everything.  He takes our burdens, our guilt, our sins, and gives us His yoke to carry and rest for our souls, for His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matt. 11:30). He takes our sorrows and our griefs, and in exchange gives us the joy of a new day (Psalm 30:5). He takes the obstacles and trials that cause us to tremble and says “Take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

I would not want to begin to imagine what life would be like without the knowledge of the love of God in our Lord Jesus Christ. It would be worse than a December without Christmas, even worse than January.

Stay warm. Stay faithful.

Sola Deo Gloria!

A Word for the Weary

“The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of those who are taught,
that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary.”
(Isaiah 50:4)

 A Word for the Weary,

“The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can”
J.R.R. Tolkien

Each of us in on a journey, a road that goes ever on and on. There are days when the journey can seem like a pleasant stroll through lush grass, the sun shining warm on your face, the wind softly at your back. Then there are days when we are weary of the journey, the road is rocky and uneven: This message is a word for the weary.

The road is long and filled with dangers, heartbreaks, disappointments and griefs. You have been let down and hurt, and, if you’re honest, you have caused the same to others.

At times it seems you walk alone, left in the dust of those who move at a quicker pace, who’ve got it all together.

At times it seems the burden is too much to carry, too much to bear. You keep putting one foot in front of the other, but even that seems like a Herculean effort.

At times it seems that the way forward is clouded and uncertain is the destination. You are tempted to give up, to just stop where you are, to quit altogether.

Don’t give up. Do not despair.

God has a word for you, a word for the weary.

His word shows the way.

His word is a light unto your path.

His word assures, encourages, and strengthens the weary.

What is this word of God? Well, it’s not a “what” but a who.

The word of God for you is the Word made flesh: Jesus Christ.

He has come to be the way, the truth and the life.

He has come to shine the light on those who dwell in darkness.

He has come to be Emmanuel, God with Us, so that we are never again alone on the journey.

He has come to give the invitation:
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28–30)

Writing this a week before Christmas, it is important for us to be reminded why He came. There is an old hymn (not really a Christmas Carol, but just as relevant) that shows us how Christ is the Word to the Weary. All who are weary: hear and come near. (Click here to listen)

Come, ye sinners, poor and wretched,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus, ready, stands to save you,
Full of pity, joined with power.
He is able, He is able;
He is willing; doubt no more.

Come ye needy, come, and welcome,
God’s free bounty glorify;
True belief and true repentance,
Every grace that brings you nigh.
Without money, without money
Come to Jesus Christ and buy.

Come, ye weary, heavy laden,
Bruised and broken by the fall;
If you tarry ’til you’re better,
You will never come at all.
Not the righteous, not the righteous;
Sinners Jesus came to call.

Sola Deo Gloria!