Yesterday I attended the funeral of my beautiful cousin, Melanie.  On December 17 she stepped into Heaven after a journey of 15 months with cancer.  She was 50 years old, and leaves here a 13 yr old daughter and her husband of 27 years. She was beautiful inside and out and shared the love of Christ with anyone she encountered.

I know what you are thinking: “How horrible that they have to go through this right here at Christmas.” Please know that I agree, but it also brings to the surface to me the reality of God’s redeeming work through Christ.  We love the merriment of Christmas: the smells, the food, the gifts, family, and friends.  How precious are all of these, but even more precious is the reality that because of God’s great love for us he sent Emmanuel, which means “God with Us.” Emmanuel was Melanie’s hope, it’s is where she anchored her life, and He did not fail her.

Can you grasp that, my friends? God is with us. He’s not out there somewhere, distant and unconcerned.  Because of the work of Christ, which began with a baby in a manger, we have the privilege of walking through life with God. The redeeming work of Christ not only means that I will one day see my cousin and Keith again, but it means that DAILY we can face whatever life hands us.

It’s been a rough month for me.  I have a lot of very close friends who are really suffering. As I journey with them through the present difficulties of life, how precious it is to me that while I feel their pain so deeply, Christ feels it even more. Because he is Emmanuel.  He is here.  He is with us.

Jesus takes brokenness and makes it beautiful. He heals and he restores. He forgives and redeems for His work. On this Christmas Eve morning I am once again amazed at His love for us.

I’ve been reading a devotion series recently that talks about having audacious faith.  On the surface that may sound odd, but when you really look at the word, it means “bold, daring, and willing to take risks.” How awesome to have a faith that is willing to travel this life hand in hand with the One who created us, no matter where the journey takes us. The scripture says, “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet.” We tend to want to see previews on the big screen before we will make the decision to travel with Him.  He, however, knows we couldn’t handle that, so He lights the way one step at a time, through the twists and turns of life, all the while keeping close to our side.

That’s what my cousin did.  She traveled the path set out for her. She touched lives and she helped people along the way. She loved God and she loved her family. And tomorrow she will spend Christmas celebrating with the Heavenly hosts. How glorious!

How odd that so much beauty could come from a Christmas funeral. But that is our hope. God is with us. He sent Jesus to show us how to live and to become a sacrifice for us.

“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Blessings, my friends, and Merry Christmas!