The first Christmas without Sarah and Josh was surreal. Even eight months after the accident, I would catch myself thinking that the door would swing open and the two of them would walk back in, ending the horrible nightmare.
The kids and I had moved back to Franklin to start Ridgeview Church. Since our arrival, we had busied ourselves with the business of starting new schools, planting our church, and reconnecting with old friends. But as those last few days before Christmas began to wind down, I found myself missing them more and more. Pulling out the decorations was a bittersweet moment as I re-lived the memories behind many of the decorations. I thought back to the Christmas before--just four months before the accident--how insulated we were from the pain that was going to follow. It was an amazing Christmas in 2003...far different than what we would feel in 2004.
But we made it. And after it was all said and done, I remember thinking how it had not been as bad as I had prepared myself for. There were new traditions to be started, a new house that provided opportunities for new decorating ideas. Don't get me wrong. There were moments that gave our hearts pause, to be sure. But the overwhelming thought of that Christmas was this--God was still God. His plans for my life had never changed. And the trials that He had brought me to, He was more than capable enough to lead me through them. In God there is always the hope and promise of what He has planned.
There is power in that word "new." When you find yourself working through difficult times or severe trials, remember that God is in the business of new. Lamentations says that every day "His mercies are new." In Revelation, God says Himself that He makes all things new. And in "newness" there is hope and confidence and life.
That's why a new baby in Bethlehem brought new hope that first Christmas. And that message of good news has given hope to everyone since that day. And the new choices that lay before me and my family that first Christmas helped me to see beyond my present pain to a world of possibilities, all because of a God who specializes in "new."