My flip-flops tap, tap, tap the linoleum floor while I flip through Sunset magazine in the Super Cuts on Pi’ikea. Without looking up from my son’s head of hair, the hairdresser breezily asks,
“So, are you here on vacation?”
I look up from my magazine,
“Oh, no. We live here, actually.”
She smiles as she focuses on my son’s pesky cowlick.
“Well then, what did you run away from?”
I stare at her blankly while trying to make sense of what she said. She sees my expression and continues,
“Oh, I’m sorry.” She brushes cut brown hair from my boy’s ear. “But most people who move to Hawaii do so to escape their problems.”
I explain how we came to the island for my husband’s job, but I know what she says is probably true. I also know anyone who moves to Hawaii as an escape soon discovers his problems packed right up and went along with him.
We were stationed on Maui with the Air Force for three years, and I know some people think we lived at the Hilton, dined exclusively at awesome restaurants, and frolicked in the sand and surf dawn ’til dusk. Because when you vacation in Hawaii, that’s what you do. You leave Real Life at home. But when you live in Hawaii, Real Life shows up as a spoilsport to the party just the same as anywhere else. And he insists on bringing his troublesome personality in the form of illness, bills, arguments, and homesickness.
In a similar way, I think we all carry a few of the same expectations for Christmas. We expect Real Life to take a December vacation and are surprised when he shows up as his own kind of downer to the holiday party.
The angel Gabriel gave Mary the surprise of all surprises when He told her she would carry the Hope of the world in her womb. While Mary took this as the amazing, world-changing news it was, she still needed to know how as a virgin the impossible could be possible. Gabriel answered,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will over shadow you.”
Luke 1:35, 38
For Mary to give birth to Jesus, she had to first receive the miracle formed in the shadows. She had to sit in the shadows of the Most High.
And so I wonder: If a part of my life feels especially dark right now, could it be I am in the prime location for my own miracle to form in the shadows? For God to move in my life in never seen, never imagined, never dreamt up ways?
If we find ourselves in a shadowy place now, we rest knowing He is close. During this Christmas season, may we be acutely aware of how God births miracles in secret places. May we remember He turns our impossible into possible. And may we know Jesus is the only Real Life worth running towards.
This post is second in the series All Things Possible Christmas by Holley Gerth and me. If you missed the first post earlier this week, then click here. And be sure to visit Holley’s place for more encouragement this Christmas season.