Fear [of God] is silent wonder, radical amazement, and affectionate awe at the infinite goodness of God.~Brennan Manning, in an interview
I woke up this morning with a sense of despair. Maybe it was the crashing of blood sugar after a feast of Thanksgiving, but I donâ€™t think so. More likely it is the awakening of warfare between the worlds that breaks out every year to keep us focused on our feelings instead of on the God of all comfort and the Creator of the universe. After all, itâ€™s the beginning of the â€œFeasts of Jehovah Jireh.â€
First, there is the celebration of Thanksgiving, a remembrance of the many ways that the Father has provided for our physical needs. It is the day of humble acknowledgement of Godâ€™s grace, when in so many parts of the world people have too little to subsist.
Secondly, comes the celebration of incarnation, the coming of Christ (Yes, yes, I know he wasnâ€™t really born in December. Yes, I know that the date was once a pagan holiday. But I donâ€™t worship a pagan deity, I celebrate the coming of Jesus, the Son of God and God the Son. Who needs a pagan deity anyhow? I choose to evict it and redeem December 25th and make the day a celebration of the Living God. In the mean time, just go home and gloat over your superior knowledge about â€œreal meaning of Christmas.â€ Bah! Humbug to you, too! ) It is a time of remembering and celebrating Godâ€™s Gift and the awesome love of a Creator that would choose to enter time and space and die for an errant creation. Itâ€™s our chance to stand in â€œsilent wonder, radical amazement, and affectionate awe at the infinite goodness of God.â€
Then comes the New Year. While many go get drunk, presumably to kill the pain of having to look forward to another year like the last one, we can celebrate the promise of the coming Kingdom and the destiny of those who yield to God. We may not know what the future holds, but we are confident in Who holds the future!
And that brings me back to my first thought: I woke up in despair. Why? Because so many around me dread the holidays. Family days trigger bad feelings. Some go get drunk because the holidays are such a bummer. Some go hide from people. Some get all glum and morose. Some get edgy, some cranky.
When I awakened this morning I wanted to just chuck the whole thing. Sheesh! Forget the holidays. Why should my celebrating cause so many others such grief? How selfish of me. I woke up feeling guilty because I actually like the holidays for the reasons I described above. Shame on me. It was one of those moments when I had to decide if I was going to follow people down to the basement with a shovel and dig a deeper hole, or was I going to rise up and fight. Because thatâ€™s what I think happens this time of year. Those of us who live between the worlds have every reason to celebrate and I think the forces of darkness hate that. The fallen ones want us to leave each other alone and respect one anotherâ€™s right to be miserable.
So, I went up to The Grotto to pray. I hadnâ€™t gone there in a while because my morning schedule has changed, but I figured I needed to be intentional about prayer. Most of the time at the Grotto I was â€œin the basement with my shovel.â€ But when I got home, the battle turned. I put on a worship CD (Revival in Belfast. What a great CD!) and just stood in the kitchen, my coffee cooling on the countertop, and raised my arms, wept and praised God. Later, I retreated to the living room and read an interview with Brennan Manning, where I found the leading quote, and continued to worship.
The despair broke. I remembered an important truth: Happiness is a choice.
Party on, dudesâ€¦