12 Days of Christmas Countdown – DAY SEVEN

– Invitation to Remember –

Our boys with Murt & Alice (A few years ago)

It’s raining today and I’m thinking about my father-in-law, Murt, who passed away four years ago.  I’ve been thinking about him a lot recently and wishing he could be here to enjoy Christmas with us.  Alice, my mother-in-love (as she prefers to be called), will be arriving in a couple days to share the holidays with us, but there will still be an empty chair where Murt would be.

It’s tough celebrating Christmas when a loved one is missing.  Sometimes it’s just the little things that make you remember them.  Like coffee.  Murt was a serious coffee drinker and I always made sure to stock up on quality Starbucks when he was here.  This was a source of joy for me since no one else in my family partakes of this beloved ritual.  So as I sit here drinking my own delicious brew, it’s just another reminder to me that Murt will not be joining us.

Although we miss him, my heart aches even more for Alice.  In the past four years, God has given her great comfort knowing that Murt is now in the presence of the Lord, where there’s no more pain from lymphoma or chemo.  But for Alice, I know it still hurts to miss someone you have loved so deeply.

My heart also aches for my boys – who remember their grandpa as a terrific handyman who built a tree house in their bedroom – but who don’t remember many of the little things about him because they were young when he died.

So at dinner this week, Phil and I spent time recounting stories to our sons about the wonderful man who was their grandfather and the incredible legacy of faithfulness he left.  This quiet man of faith was a rock for the entire extended family and his community, someone people could always count on.  He was also a huge factor in Phil becoming a Christian, since his dad truly lived out his faith in a way that allowed Phil and his brothers to know that God is real.

Taking time to remember him like this makes Murt seem somehow closer this Christmas.  It also reminds me that even amidst the joy and celebration of Christmas, this earth is not our home.  We’re all just passing through (and where we land on the other side is up to us).  Things that seem permanent and secure here on earth are really only temporary and will one day disappear, just like the pretty packages and bows on December 26th.

Christmas is a great time to remember the important people in our lives who have passed into eternity – who are now face-to-face with the King of Kings, where there’s no more tears and no more fears.  It’s a great time to remember the God of love who left His throne in heaven and stepped into time just to save us.  And to remember that even though there is pain and brokenness in this life, Emmanuel has come.  God is with us – giving us strength and comfort in the valleys of life, and bringing us tidings of great joy for all people.  Our Savior has been born!

“Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried.”  (Isaiah 53:4a  NASB)

“For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.”  (I Thessalonians 4:14 NASB)

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