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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Changing my Focus, Changing my Life

Like fog in the morning, the spirit of Christmas had vanished. Still, I shuffled in the garage. One by one, I retrieved the bins I'd stored the previous Christmas. While the aroma of sugar cookies wafted through the air and "Silent Night" played in the background, I began the decorating.

Placing the nativity scene as the focal point of our family room, I spread the rest of the decorations around the house: red and green candles, musical boxes with winter scenes, and bright red poinsettias framed with green garland adorned with burgundy velvet bows. They all transformed our home into a lively winterland.

Next, I retrieved three stockings to fill the marked places above the fireplace; each embroidered with our sons' names: Jason, Jeff, and Joe. Once Jason's and Jeff's were hung, with tears burning my eyes, I clutched Joe's against my chest.

The empty stocking sears my heart. It had been five years since the Lord called Joe home. Five years that Joe's absence had left an emptiness we could almost touch. And five years that God's grace wiped away portions of the grief that flogged our hearts. But often, it's the scorching pain that opens our eyes to a bigger picture.

Years ago, when our three sons, including Joe, were still young, I focused on providing a fabulous Christmas with a perfect tree to make it an awesome celebration. As a result, little things tended to roil in me, such as a light strand that refused to shine because of a burned-out bulb. Annoyed at the glitch, I promptly set off to resolve it — I fussed, I rearranged, then plugged and unplugged until frustration grew hot in me.

How foolish and silly. I focused on that one bulb, dismissing the glow of the star atop the Christmas tree. I'd done the same with light bulbs that burned in my life—from broken relationships to shattered plans. Exerting tons of energy trying to fix them, I missed the star—Christ the Lord, who gave significance to my life.

When that void in our heart aches to be filled, it's the star of comfort that makes it whole. When bitter sorrow robs the spirit of Christmas, it's the star of His genuine love that whispers joy. When a health diagnosis shakes our world, it's the star of reassurance that shines the certainty of new tomorrows. It's the same star that never loses the brilliance of hope, incomprehensible hope. One we can only embrace when all strands of life burn out.

With eyes focused on the star, I hang Joe's stocking along with his brothers'; not empty anymore—but filled with sweet memories—his wit and laughter; his hugs and kisses.

For that reason, God called it His "Morning Star" to dispel our darkness, dry our tears, and repair strands we cannot fix.

"I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star." (Revelation 22:16).

Copyright © 2013, Janet Perez Eckles, used by permission.

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