Are you only half-there this Christmas? Me too. My glass feels far less than half-empty. I used to love Christmas. Christmas music began in my world on Halloween. I decorated every room in the house. I hand-made Christmas cards and gifts. I would lie awake in my room on Christmas Eve listening to Christmas music by the twinkling lights until midnight when I sang Happy Birthday to Jesus. And I was still doing this as a full-grown adult!
But something has happened to my joy. I’m only feeling half-Christmasy, and even mustering up that much is a stretch. It’s hard to welcome Christmas music into our weary world anymore. God knows there’s a couple who already buried one child, pleading for their new little one’s damaged heart to keep beating one more day. There are Jesus-followers haunted by the memory of that one Sunday they watched as their brothers and sisters were murdered while they worshiped. There are people holding vigil over their loved ones this Christmas because pain doesn’t ever take a holiday. There are countless people I hold dear who can’t remember the last time they felt well. I am wrecked by the suffering I see and feel. Most days I wonder if I’m even half the person I used to be. I can’t get to my feet after one bout of depression before another flattens me and I yelp, “can’t You give a girl half a chance? Can the suffering not break for just half a second so we can catch our breath?” I wonder if God is half-asleep or half a world away.
I’ve got half a mind to just give up. And some days, many days, I do just that. I’ve got half-written songs and half-written blog posts, testifying to my half-hearted focus. And sometimes I have to ask what God was thinking with this seemingly half-baked plan being carried out down here. And I start to wonder, what has happened to my faith?
"Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, 'Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.' But the Lord answered her, 'Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.'" - Luke 10:38-42
Martha chose distraction and anxiety. Mary chose the good portion, the good half of things. She sat at Jesus’ feet and listened to Him teach, and it was the very thing that would not be taken away from her. I think I’m like Martha. I am “anxious and troubled about many things”, keeping only half an ear on Jesus, half an eye on His love and the other half on my pain. I’ve been listening to Satan’s half-truths, or flat-out lies, instead of the voice of the one who whole-heartedly entered the flesh so many years ago. Evil wants me to believe that all of this suffering means that God doesn’t love us. I’ve closed half my heart that sees good in the world, good in God, thereby magnifying the choking darkness when only “one thing is necessary”… Jesus.
Here’s the problem though, Jesus. Distraction and anxiety aren’t easy to lay at Your feet. Not when the pain still scalds our hearts with each fresh pour on the fire of suffering from our half-empty glasses. We just don’t have it in us. And You repeat.. just give Me what you have.
"He put another parable before them, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.'" - Matthew 13:31-32 "For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you." - Matthew 17:20
This is the best news for our half-alive hearts this Christmas and always. Jesus has come. He is not half a world away, nor does He sleep. He is here and the more our eyes focus on Him, the more clearly we will see Him. It doesn’t matter how big our tired faith is as long as we plant it in Him. It can be as small as a tiny seed as long as we lay it at the feet of Jesus. He will grow it. He will multiply the smallest faith because nothing is impossible with God. We don’t even have to fight half the battle, because He has already won the whole thing. AND IT WILL NOT BE TAKEN AWAY FROM US.
Even as we wave our flag at half-mast, deeply grieving the things we just don’t understand, let us plant our tiny grain of faith where God can grow it, where it will not be taken away from us. The very best thing we can do this Christmas is drag our weary and broken hearts to the feet of Jesus, believing that, “he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). It makes sense that if we listen with more than just half an ear, we hear His voice more clearly. And we’ve never even heard the half of it.
"For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known." - 1 Corinthians 13:9,12
Jesus, meet us here in our half-hearts. Make them whole as we plant our tiny faith in You. We long for the day when the “partial will pass away”, but for now, we place it in the only place it can’t be taken away, the soil of Your love. We may only know half, but in You, we have always been fully known. Thank You for coming, Lord Jesus. Happy Birthday.