I had grand plans for Advent and Christmas this year. I was going to get everything done early so I’d have lots of time to relax and enjoy the holidays with my family. Except it hasn’t turned out that way. Instead I’ve returned to work part time, which means one less day to do things. I spend much of last weekend curled up on the couch with unexplained stomach and abdominal pain. Basically my two biggest work days between now and Christmas. My husband and I made a list of things that needed to be done in the next week, there were 25+, 10-15 of which had to be done that weekend. We probably accomplished less than half. There have been a series of difficulties in my husband’s family, including the sudden death of his grandfather last week.

As we were driving home after church on Sunday a thought suddenly occurred to me. The first Christmas didn’t go according to plan either.  Mary hadn’t planned to be an unwed mother. I’m sure she hadn’t thought she’d be traveling during the final weeks of her pregnancy, for the purpose of being taxed. The financial pressure was on, the cost of travel plus the inevitable tax bill.  (Sound familiar yet?) When they arrived, there was nowhere to stay, at least nowhere reputable. To top it all off, she gave birth unexpectedly in an unfamiliar setting without the support of her female relatives.

I’ve heard so many bloggers talk about what a hard year 2014 was for many people. The winter was long and difficult and as another approaches I can feel the fear. This Christmas feels like one last good time before the inevitable frigid darkness envelopes us for a few months. But this isn’t so. In fact, Christmas takes place just after Winter Solstice, the darkest day of the year. Meaning it will only get lighter from here.

Almost nothing about the time and place of the nativity looked like it went according to plan; at least from a human perspective. But it was all exactly the way God had in mind. So as we finish out a year, if it was a tough one, try to remember, it will get lighter. There may be another cold winter coming, but spring will be hot on its heels. Try to look for the peace within the chaos and watch for the light.

John 1: 4-5

“In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”