On the Eve of Christmas

 (from Eric, adapted from our family Christmas newsletter)

Exodus 36:7: The materials were sufficient for them to do all the work. There was more than enough. 

I read this obscure verse this morning. It is describing how the people of Israel gave so much of their personal belongings to make the furnishings of the tabernacle that the craftsmen in charge told them to stop. “There was more than enough.”

Do you hear that provision? It hits my heart like a feast. We’ve known some times like that in 2023. We have seen our medical school flush again with graduates after several years of dryness. We have seen busy schedules align so that we can sign a new 5-year contract with our Burundian partners in good faith of what God will do in the future. We have seen patients healed and funds provided and small steps made towards better care given in the name of Jesus. We have celebrated together with our team what God has done in 10 years here. What have you experienced where it felt like “more than enough”?

But maybe those words sound less like a feast and more like a taunt. Where was the provision last week when we fought hard for a young man with kidney failure, only to have him die suddenly the day after (what we thought was) a successful discharge? Burundians’ crops are flooded this year, heralding a season of exceptional hunger. We didn’t see our daughter for 3 months while she started school in Kenya. Meanwhile, we’re covering extra classes for our boys because we don’t have enough teachers to help us this year. Where have you felt like “there was more than enough” just doesn’t measure up to reality?

Then I think about Christmas. I think about 400 years of biblical silence followed by a nearly unmarked birth in a stable in a small town. In fact, it was the most extravagant, overflowing, lavish gift ever, the epitome of “more than enough”. That was the reality, but in many ways, it didn’t feel like it.

Here on the equator, the sun rises year-round about 6 am. About 15 minutes before that, when it’s still dark, scores of birds wake and sing to greet the day that is not quite here yet.

The sky is dark, but the air is full of song.

It’s beautiful, and it’s every morning for us. It is glory mixed with darkness, but it lets us know that the day is at hand. It’s a good reminder for both the moments where we feel God’s provision as well as the times when it feels so absent.

The night of Jesus’s birth, angels sang God’s glory. The sky was dark. The air was full of song. This seems to be characteristic of God. Often in joy, often in sorrow, but always looking forward to his coming.

We pray grace to you this season to be able to hold on to this promise in both the ebbs and the flows that you experience.