I drove by a house last night that I used to frequently pass on my long drive home from the University of Oklahoma every weekend. It is in the middle of what many would call “nowhere”, but that doesn’t stop its owners from absolutely decking it out with pretty Christmas lights every year. Driving by it used to bring me such cheer in the winter months, adding to the Christmas spirit that cloaked me from head to toe from October to January. (You should understand that in those days, I had little more to do than have Christmas spirit and write hot checks…)
And there it was last night, sparkling and festive as ever on that dark Oklahoma highway.
And my, it took me back…
I was in my early 20’s, devoted enough to my parents and to my home church to drive home every single weekend. I loved that 2-hour drive from school to our quiet home in the woods and I would spend my trip singing at the top of my lungs to my “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” soundtrack or listening to a Harry Potter audio book or practicing my French at the direction of my “French for Dummies” CD. Or sometimes I would just think the entire way home.
Kind of like I was doing last night.
I would think about school and church and family and such, but mostly I would think about the future as I spent countless hours dreaming and planning. Those dreams were pretty lofty back then and were probably extremely misguided, but at the root of them was a deep hope for a bright and happy future. And I’d be lying if I said that I had complete faith that God was going to pull through for me and make that happen.
But He has.
That girl with all those hopes and dreams was completely unaware that her best days were ahead.
She didn’t know then that she was going to marry the young man who was just then stealing her heart. She didn’t know that he would continue to grow into a man greater than any fabrication of her sweetest and biggest dreams, well after her wedding day. She didn’t know there would be a Gideon, and a Rebekah and a Betsie who would turn her selfish world upside down and teach her day by day what it means to love someone else and live for them. She didn’t know about all the precious moments she would continue to share with her parents and her brothers and their wives and their children. She had no idea that God would be faithful to her church and morph it into a fellowship truer and sweeter than she had ever experienced. She didn’t know that He would continue to change her heart in radical ways and that her best days of learning were not behind her but in front of her. She didn’t know that life could possibly grow sweeter and richer and more tender…
As I drove by that house, the mere thought of these many blessings filled up my heart and caused me to revel in the grand quietude of this Christmas season. And I realized for the thousandth time that none of my greatest gifts have been purchased, but rather, crafted and mapped out by the hand of an extremely loving and merciful God.
Beautiful lives start at the manger, where the Savior of the world lay wrapped in swaddling clothes, biding His time until He would bring hope and change to a very dark world. 2000+ years later, I’m driving down the road by a house bedecked with Christmas lights and my heart is shouting “Thank you!”
I hope, with all my heart, that He floods your world with His glorious light this Christmas Day.