When it rains

We jumped into the car after church determined to make the trek to Silver Dollar City to see the Christmas lights. It was the last day of the season for the holiday festivities. The skies were overcast and gloomy, but our trusty weather app said the rains wouldn’t start until later in the night.

We sailed through the three-hour drive, with virtually no traffic, and were thrilled that the park wasn’t full. That meant quick lines and more fun!

Then, I felt it. A drop. Next, a drizzle, just a sputtering from the sky. We had just gotten a funnel cake sampler, so we found the last table under a canopy and began to eat. The rains came, and began to soak our winter coats. Matt had thought to bring our big rainbow umbrella, and so we huddled close together and began to walk slowly underneath to the next show so we could get in from the rain.

Under the rainbow umbrella canopy trying to stay dry

Apparently many, many others had the same idea. The theater was packed full of wet people looking for respite.

The lights went down. An angel appeared. He recounted meeting Mary and how she and her betrothed traveled to Bethlehem. There, she gave birth to a son, God’s Son. And the world was changed. The skies opened up in praise, shepherds went to find the baby, wisemen followed a star to worship the tiny king. The Gospel was shared.

It wasn’t rain that wet my cheeks inside the theater. It was the realization that God made it rain that day so this crowd could know the truth about Jesus.

The downpour lessened once the show was finished, and we enjoyed our time at the park and all its lights.

We love the Christmas lights at Silver Dollar City!

Rain will often change our plans, our moods, and our perspectives. Sometimes our lives are pummeled by storms and soaked in sorrowful tears. Rain can bring beautiful growth and refreshment, as well as hesitation and even peril.

When the hard rains come, and they will come, I want to remember these three things I realized dodging the drops at SDC.

  1. Rain can bring us closer to those we love. Instead of scattering, when we were facing rain and potentially changed plans, my family huddled together underneath the dry cover of our umbrella. We used the rain as an opportunity to be together and move together.
  2. When it rains, look for the Gospel on display. God does not waste our pain or our tears. Often our struggles are a conduit for God’s message of hope and redemption. God may make it rain specifically to redirect or prepare the heart fields to receive His One and Only Son.
  3. The rain will end. There is always a start and an end to the rain, and to the storms in life. Believe that, and hold onto that. The rain may last so much longer than forecasted or come unexpectedly, but it will not last. The clouds will roll back to reveal the sun that was always there.

The Cross in Christmas

Our Christmas season has taken us through incredibly busy weeks, school programs and parties, dance rehearsals and recitals, and church commitments.

But, none of those scheduled appointments makes Christmas, well, Christmas.

As we’ve worked through our annual Christmas Countdown using The Family Book of Advent, one devotion last week brought Christmas into perspective for me in the midst of balancing expectations, making it on time to the next event and struggling with exhaustion.

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of King Herod, wise men from the east arrived unexpectedly in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”

– Matthew 2:1-2

This passage of Scripture resonates deeply with me. The wise men recognized a King had been born. They saw His star, in the midst of their important lives, and stopped everything. They decided to leave what they knew to find this King, setting aside their doubts and their fears, and putting their faith into action. For them, worshiping Jesus was worth the sacrifice, worth the journey.

Our glowstick path through the living room

Our glowstick path through the living room

The kids and I considered what we knew about the wise men, their commitment to seeing the King personally and how they gave Him their hearts and treasure in worship. We broke into a few tubes of glowsticks, and made paths through the house for each other, with Jesus figurines from our Nativity sets and the end of the line. Each child made a path for their sibling to follow, just like the wise men looked to the star to find the newborn King.

A few captured moments from our glowstick Nativity adventures

A few captured moments from our glowstick Nativity adventures

Then, we combined all our glowsticks to make a path through the entire living room to the manger of our largest Nativity set. What ended up happening drew us to the Cross in Christmas.

Glowstick after glowstick was laid, and a path was drawn from the stable to the Christmas tree on the opposite side of the room. When the wise men gave Jesus their treasures, they offered gifts to honor who He was and to prepare Him for the journey that lay ahead. Gold testified that He was King, and frankincense that He was Priest and would mediate between God and man. That way would be made through the message of the myrrh, an oil used for embalming, foreshadowing the death necessary for my redemption, and yours.

The glowsticks in the living room marked the way from the manger to the cross, symbolized in the Christmas tree.

Christmas has no meaning without the cross. It’s why He came. God was made flesh to be lifted high, for nails to pierce His hands and feet. The baby in the stable would be the One to purchase my salvation.

The cross is what makes Christmas, Christmas.