Be Blessed

IMG_4059.JPGMy eyes are dry
My faith is old
My heart is hard
My prayers are cold
And I know how I ought to be
Alive to You and dead to me

But what can be done
For an old heart like mine
Soften it up
With oil and wine
The oil is You, Your Spirit of love
Please wash me anew
With the wine of Your Blood  ~Keith Green

It was my last day of work before my Christmas break, and I was walking my dogs in the cool, crisp, Georgia air. The windows of the cars parked along the road, and the mailboxes standing at the end  of each driveway, were covered in a thin layer of frost that sparkled in the moonlight. The air was so cold I could see my breath, and I was reminded of another “last workday” before my holiday week, a long time ago.

We lived in the Niagara Peninsula, in Canada, and I was driving home from Hamilton, Ontario, where I worked. I had had an especially long day and was extremely tired. I was anxious to get home to my husband and our four year old twins.   I was also thinking of the turkey I had yet to defrost,  turnips that needed squashing, and potatoes that needed mashing. My husband’s family was joining us for Christmas Eve, and it was my turn to cook. I remember wondering how I would accomplish everything I needed to.

It was dark,  snow was drifting across the road, and I could barely make out the taillights of the car in front of me. Suddenly, I heard an angelic sound of jingle bells, and in my mind for a fraction of a second, I saw a dazzling , glittering light. It was just an instant of time, but it was enough to wake me before I veered my car out onto the ice of Lake Ontario. I don’t know how long I was out, but I had fallen asleep  at the wheel,  while driving in icy, wintery conditions. I have often wondered what that was, that brilliant light, that jingle bell sound, that little Christmas miracle, that woke me just at the right moment. It has been a long time since I have sensed that feeling of comfort and safety, as if Heaven’s angels were watching out for me.

As I was driving to work this year, I was listening to Christmas songs on the radio. It  was the local Christian station I was listening to, because they always have the best Christmas music.  In between songs,  the DJ  was taking calls from listeners. A lady called into the station, and told her Christmas story.  She wanted to thank the people of this station for the work they do in the community. She explained that she had been an atheist, and had come to faith simply by listening to this radio station 2 years ago. She mentioned that now her husband and children were followers of Jesus as well.

I found myself considering this lady’s story for the rest of  my day. The fact that God would care so much for this woman and her family, that he would reach out to them through none other than a radio station, blew my mind. I was unnerved, because I was so surprised by this story. When had I changed?  In the past,  this story would not have impressed me so;  I would have easily believed it could happen.

Later that day, a coworker of mine left me a Christmas card, taped to the doorway of the room I work out of. I opened the card, and saw she had written, “Be Blessed.” The glitter on the picture of the beautiful card reminded me of the frost I saw on the ground that morning.  Consequently, I was reminded  of the night I fell asleep while driving  so many years ago.

“Be Blessed,”  is a common phrase amongst people here in the South, I have noticed. Be blessed, they say, or I am blessed.  It warms my heart, and it reminds me of the church I attended in my youth. We spoke Finnish in that church, and fellow worshippers would greet each other with the word “rauha”,  which means peace.  Their version of the saying, “Be Blessed,” I suppose.

This year, as I have baked and cooked, and tried to make Christmas nice for my family, I have considered this salutation of blessing, and my cynicism towards life.  I know that over time, “my heart has grown hard, and my faith has grown old. ”

This New Year’s Day morning, I was up early, once again, walking  my puppies. The air was damp and chilly; it was not cold enough to see my breath in the air. The sky was grey, and it was raining steadily. A stark contrast to my pretty Christmas frost of a few days ago. The sadness of it all made me feel empty inside, and I asked God what  it all means. I expected to hear His voice or admonition;  instead I felt only silence.

Despite my impassivity today, I decided to post a favorite verse on Facebook: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!”  I thought this was a great verse to encourage my friends this New Year. It is a passage in the Bible that both my husband and I are very familiar with. He proved this when  he pointed out the fact that I had neglected to post the reference to the verse. ” Why didn’t you let everyone know it’s from Isaiah?” he asked. I let him know I was too lazy  to look up the reference. He is ever so helpful, so of course he looked it up for me. It is found in Isaiah 43:18, and the first part of verse 19.

He also pointed out that the rest of verse 19, and the following verses, were wonderful also. “Here,” he said, ” let me read them out loud to you:”

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. The wild animals honor me, the jackals and the owls, because I provide water in the desert and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen…”

This. My husband’s voice, reading this . I realized, my eyes are not dry, my prayers are not cold, and I am blessed.