Friday, December 25, 2009
It's 3.40 am Christmas morn - I just wanted to jot down some notes before calling it a night. It has been a great Christmas Eve spent first by attending a Christmas worship service, then spending the rest of the evening at the house of one of my sisters here in Maryland. For the first time in many, many years, Maryland actually out-snowed Illinois. Click on the photo taken from one of my sister's houses. They haven't dared remove the accumulated snow at their deck. It's more than a foot high.
#1. Christmas is best spent with family. Three of my sisters and their families live in Maryland. We're the only ones residing in Illinois. We postponed our Illinois - Maryland trip from Dec 18 evening to Dec 21 evening due to the worst winter storm in Maryland. When we finally hit the road, the forecast was clear all throughout our journey. BUT, reality was different. The visibility was very bad when we passed Indiana with snow swirling all around.
The worst happened in Pennsylvania though. We were travelling at the maximum speed when I felt our minivan slip in the road. I immediately slowed down and sure enough, saw that the highway was covered in a thin layer of ice. I noticed the vehicles ahead of us were going very slow and had their hazard lights on. I did the same. The scarier part was ahead of us. As we were crossing a bridge, we could see a small car ahead of us slowly losing control and slipping sideways as it crossed the bridge. I thought we were crazy to have taken the drive we did. But who could have known? A college friend did the same drive at a time that the forecast was worse. Their family encountered less problems than we did.
God was real gracious and allowed us to complete our journey without any other incidents. Christmas is meant to be spent with family and we are just so happy to be here.
#2. Look out for Christmas blessings. They're everywhere. While we were very bored and anxious waiting whether or not to make the trip to Maryland, we decided to attend the Sunday worship service at Willow Creek church in South Barrington. It was the biggest church I've seen so far. I've heard a lot about the church for a long time now and had made plans to visit it earlier. I'm glad we did this particular Sunday.
The Christmas carol singing was wonderful. Led by a nationally-acclaimed choir director, the whole congregation were urged to sing their best for Jesus. After all, isn't He the reason for the season? At least a couple of thousand voices joined the choir with joyful voices and it was hard to imagine not being blessed for taking part in those songs. The singing was recorded and was available in a CD after the service. Now I have my own Christmas album.
The message was simple yet profound. Jesus was the only human ever to have a say on when and where He would be born. He chose to enter our world through a place where animals were kept, and chose parents that society would have easily ignored as insignificant. Imagine the dirt, the noise, the chaos, the circumstances where the animals stayed - he chose to enter the very world he created in the most humble manner. Imagine what Joseph and Mary would have thought about delivering a baby in the least ideal of settings - and yet, that was the time that Jesus chose to arrive.
Indeed, God rarely shows up in situations when everything is under our control. It is when we are most needy, when we are most weak, when we are most humbled, and when we are most searching that He chooses to show Himself. Now that I think about it, it is in our most vulnerable moments that we can actually show our purest love. And rightfully, those moments are when we most encounter JESUS - love in human form.
We wouldn't have heard of the message had we not been delayed. God's timing is always perfect. We just have to wait on Him.
As the old ladies would say in my hometown of Sagada, MILI KLISMAS! Spend it well with your family, and keep your eyes wide open for those Christmas blessings.