LOUISE: Heavenly Christmas

Louise ChristmasI can’t believe it’s December with Christmas around the corner. Another first without my husband. Just got through Thanksgiving and now comes the “holiday of all holidays.” To tell the truth, I would like to skip Christmas. In fact, I’d like to skip the whole month of December with all its festivities. I’m not feeling very “merry.” Not ready to shop, string lights on my house or even put up a Christmas tree. I’d rather hibernate through this season and come out when life is full again, whenever that might be.

Last month I spent a few weeks in Arkansas, getting reacquainted with my grandchildren. My first trip without Carl. And as I sat in my little rental house in Bella Vista, I kept thinking, “There must be more!” Grief is so difficult. Just when you get through one layer, another presents itself. I vacillate between being angry with God and searching books on Heaven to see what believers can expect.

Though I marvel at the biblical description of streets of gold and gates of pearl, I am more intrigued by the fact that every person will have a place and a purpose fitted perfectly for them. You will feel more at home in heaven than on this earth.  And time? Well it’s so unique that when you arrive in heaven 10, 20, or even 30 years after your loved one, it will be as if you had never been separated. It’s like the two of you were strolling down the sidewalk together and you stopped to do a little window-shopping while your mate walked a few steps ahead before realizing you weren’t beside him. Suddenly, he turns just as you walk up and he says, “Oh, there you are!” So it will be in heaven. The time lapse will be shorter than the time it takes to grab a Coke during a TV commercial.

Years ago, when my young son, Travis died, I worried that he would think his mommy abandoned him. Then I realized he would be in the arms of Jesus and feel much the same as when he stayed home with Daddy while I ran to the grocery store. Today, I believe the time lapse is even shorter and that heaven is very near, possibly right beside us rather than a far away place that we can barely fathom. Our hearts need to know our loved ones are near—that their love and presence lingers with us forever.

So what does all this have to do with Christmas? Well, everything, especially if you are missing someone you love as desperately as I am missing my husband. You see, Christmas isn’t really about presents and decorated trees. That’s strictly commercial. The real Christmas is about a Savior who came from heaven to earth—to walk where we walk and tell about a heavenly kingdom fashioned especially for us. But there is a huge caveat! This kingdom is perfect and only those without blemish, no imperfections, can enter. That excludes all of us, so Jesus, the Christ child we worship at Christmas, perfect in every way, came to earth to sacrifice his holy life for us, the unholy. He placed our past, present and future sins—all our imperfections—on his own shoulders and hung on Calvary’s cross so we might enter God’s heavenly kingdom.

Is there a greater gift? No tinsel, no ribbons or bows. Just Jesus. A baby wrapped in swaddling clothes became a Savior discarding grave clothes. The Lord of Lords, resurrected and resplendent in a glorified body! Because of Jesus, our loved ones who died are in heaven today. We will see them again! So I think I will celebrate Christmas after all, but you can be certain it will be a “Heavenly Christmas” without the usual holiday trappings. Jesus is the only present I need, and I accepted his gift of love years ago. I hope you will join me in this holy celebration!

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