Advent

When Your Christmas Miracle Doesn’t Look Like What You Expected

Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master and in high favor, because by him the Lord had given victory to Syria. He was a mighty man of valor, but he was a leper. (2 Kings 5:1)

I spend 20 minutes suiting the 4 of them up to play outside in the snow. Maybe it was only 10 minutes, but in my frustration, it felt more like an hour. Zipping coats, replacing hats, adjusting gloves and on and on until they file out into the white world, under an icy sun.

snow day

I’m capable of a great many things, but I am deeply impatient. My symptoms hide inside, and split the surface in bouts of yelling and heavy sighing. It’s leperous, this red frustration that simmers beneath the surface.

Now the Syrians on one of their raids had carried off a little girl from the land of Israel, and she worked in the service of Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “Would that my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.” (2 Kings 5:2-3)

One friend receives news of a long awaited adoption finally happening, and another is chosen by a birth mother. Another discovers she’s pregnant–miracles unfolding right here, in the middle of this waiting season.

 

And the king of Syria said, “Go now, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel.”So he went, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten changes of clothing. And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, which read, “When this letter reaches you, know that I have sent to you Naaman my servant, that you may cure him of his leprosy.” (2 Kings 5:5)

 

I shuffle from the stove to the sink, glancing up every few minutes to see the kids out in the yard. I’m grateful for the quiet.

ice
We’ve all been so noisy.
So needy.
My frustration has reached it’s tipping point and I feel the ache for a miracle of my own.Who will cure me, I wonder over the bread board.

 

And when the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man sends word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? Only consider, and see how he is seeking a quarrel with me.”But when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, he sent to the king, saying, “Why have you torn your clothes? Let him come now to me, that he may know that there is a prophet in Israel.” (2 Kings 5:7-8)

bread board
I look to myself in desperation–not to the King, not to the cross. I prophesy my own healing and when I find I am incapable, I steam and wail at my inabilities. I am Naaman and king. I am sinner, broken, and bent. I am false prophet and idol unto myself.

 

So Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stood at the door of Elisha’s house. And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean.” But Naaman was angry and went away, saying, “Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage. (2 kings 5:9-12)

snow

Tears slip at the sink, disappearing into the suds. My pride buckles and bursts right there in the momentary quiet of a kitchen I often complain is two sizes too small. Where is my Christmas miracle? Don’t I too have prayers and longings aching to be heard?

 

I thought God would just wipe away this mess–surely He could do that. Instead, He tells me to wash in the rivers of repentance. He lays me low in shallow streams of humility.

 

But his servants came near and said to him, “My father, it is a great word the prophet has spoken to you; will you not do it? Has he actually said to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” (2 Kings 5:13)

 

He’s given me what I need. I hear the truth whispering from the hollow inside. Repent, He says. I cringe, my head hangs. It is a great word he has spoken to me. A great and difficult word for one who too often lunges for a crown to wear. Will you not do it?

 

I wring the dish towel in my hands. I wait for lunch to make my apology. I turn around in that tiny kitchen and wash.

 

So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God, and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean. (2 Kings 5:14)

 

Another friend receives a word of good news and the internet brims with stories of Christmas miracles.
My feet ache from standing all morning, I am tired and fighting to find enough room to rest this season.

 

I’m not meant to wear a crown. I’m made to worship, not to be worshiped.

 

Then he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and he came and stood before him. And he said, “Behold, I know that there is no God in all the earth but in Israel; (2 Kings 5:15)

 

Naaman needed a miracle. He went willing, but hemmed in by his own expectations. Advent sometimes unfolds like this–burdened with expectations.

Israel wanted a savior, they got a baby born in dirt by way of an unwed mother.

Expectations.

 

I light that hope candle on the advent wreath. I watch it burn right through the afternoon.

Advent wreath

The miracle is come. Yeshua.

voices-5

Sharing this post with Jennifer, Emily W. Emily, and Kirsten Oliphant

42 thoughts on “When Your Christmas Miracle Doesn’t Look Like What You Expected

  1. Amber Finley Tysl

    Oh my. These words. Exactly what I needed. I seem to keep reaching out, waiting, expecting and my devotion this morning said we must be empty before being filled…struggling to swallow that today.

    Thanks for your encouragement.

    ~Amber

    Reply
  2. You had me at every word. And especially, we are not meant to be worshipped, we are meant to worship. I love your heart and how you wrestle out with God because you are unwilling to live a life other than utter surrender to Him and His will. I am blessed to have you as an example of what it means to life for Him. Love you. <3

    Reply
    1. These words from you?–a gift. I feel like I just keep getting it wrong. I want utter surrender. I want fearless abandon unto Him–may we never stop giving it all away for his glory. Thank you for encouraging me–my heart needed this tonight. ((hugs))

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  3. Tonya

    Oh friend I am right there with you… Sort of feeling like I’ve lost my way this Christmas too… But oh the knowledge that He has away that is beyond our expectations! You bless friend, praying for you!

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  4. Heidi McCahan

    Chills running through me. Hair standing on end. Phenomenal post. These are the words I needed to read today. Thank you. I appreciate your truth-telling and authenticity. Merry Christmas.

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  5. And we just keep picking up that crown and laying it back down don’t we? I love you Kris, the way you fight to be at the foot of the cross with dogged determination. We won’t give up because we know deep down in the midst of all the mess, how much he loves us. And how much we love Him because of that. Beautiful words from a beautiful heart.

    Reply
    1. These words give me goosebumps. I hemmed and hawed over this post. It felt too exposed, and so un-Christmasy. But this is where I live, in this wrestling space of laying it down, picking it up, laying it down again…He never gives up on me though I would have given up on myself years ago. We wonder when we’ll ever get it right and He just nods a knowing head. I love Him fiercely, and I pray the fight is ever in me to pursue Him with even half the determination with which He pursues me. I am grateful for YOU, you are a treasure along this journey.

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      1. I completely agree with Shelly. 🙂

        And un-Christmasy? Ha… have you read my last 2 posts?? 😉 There’s been a tension in my heart about Christmas because the life I live for Christ doesn’t change because a holiday rolls around. Everyday I wait, everyday I seek, everyday I want Him at my center… though imperfectly, of course. My eyes are desperately fixed on Him. Well, I’m not sure I’m making sense. Going to bed now. 🙂

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        1. I love the way you pursue God. Your journey truly inspires me, your encouragement and persistence teach me and it’s grace to watch from such a close-up seat 😉 Sweet dreams, my friend.

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  6. Friend, you spun words in such a way that I was drawn to worship with every line I read-
    And then, right before the flood of tears broke out down my face, this one line
    I’m not meant to wear a crown. I’m made to worship, not to be worshiped.-

    It did me in.
    So glad I didn’t turn in early- thank you.

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  7. Oh Kris, your words express the exhaustion, frustration, and impatience that have been weighing on my own heart so well. What a joy it is to read the writing of a kindred spirit. Your use of scripture to remind and to uplift is so beautiful. Your writing is a gift. Real. Authentic. True. I am new to your blog and find already that it feels like home.

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  8. Captivated and yet convicted by your words. Your washing, your repentance, your humility in that sink of suds led way to be drenched by the Spirit and it splashes out through this post. Kris, this is why I’ve always continued to read your posts. This is real guts truth – the wrestling we face whether it is Christmas or miracles or utter chaos or just being sick of the everyday. Love your honesty and the way you keep coming back to Him, even when it’s beyond hard. I relate so much to this and I’m spurred to keep going at it. I’m so prone to wander, I’ve told my husband lately I feel I am spiritually bipolar – so back and forth, I’m pretty sure the double-minded person James speaks of is pretty much…me lately. And yet He STILL calls…still gives out…still saves, speaks, and you’re so right…the point is that I’m meant to WORSHIP. So much freedom and healing when I finally get over myself and surrender. I’m convinced this lesson will be recurring until I meet Him. Oh, that day! LOVE you…do not doubt the work set before you, my Kingdom shaker friend <3

    Reply
    1. Ha. Spiritually bi-polar. Yeah–I bet it wouldn’t surprise you to hear I’ve said the same about myself. So grateful for you, and how you encourage me, for how you live out such a real and raw faith. You don’t know how you inspire… Love you, my friend.

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    1. Me too, Lisa. I have been thinking about this story all morning and God continues to reveal new truth through it, every time I read it. I am grateful for these hard truths that open our eyes to Jesus. Thanks for reading and encouraging, Merry Christmas.

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  9. Kris, I read this last night, and all I could think was, “Me! This is me!” It was a hard thing to realize. I tried to leave a comment then, but I was on my phone, and I always have trouble with my phone. So, I’m so glad to finally be here in front of my computer to say “thank you.” This was a devastating post – in a very good and beautiful way. I’m grateful for your words. Grateful for you.

    Reply
    1. Christie, that is how I have felt wandering through your own Advent series–devastated in the best possible ways. That is the mark of the Gospel, though, isn’t it? you bless me so much, my friend.

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  10. Kelly Hausknecht Chripczuk

    I love the way you wove the biblical story with your own – it’s always so powerful when we wander through the stories of scripture in our own lives. Visiting from Imperfect Prose.

    Reply
  11. DeanneMoore

    Love this. I am an OT junkie. Love the stories of old that we can learn from in the now. You did it beautifully. You do not struggle alone. “Will you not do it?”

    Reply
  12. Kirsten Oliphant

    I am so late to get to this. I love it, Kris and so so so feel this. (Without the snow, of course.) Thanks so much for writing, sharing your heart, and taking part in this group.

    Reply
  13. Courtney

    This is amazing and so close to my own struggle as well. I feel like my friends are always receiving good news as I covet their circumstances and wonder why God isn’t giving me the miracle I desire…thank you so much for sharing your own struggle, what a great parallel to Naaman’s story. I never would have thought to link it to the birth of Christ! Beautiful!

    Reply
    1. Thanks for reading Courtney. Lifting you up in prayer right now. The more I read the bible, the more I see Jesus in every story. He is the Word. It changes how you perceive it when you discover Him in it, especially the Old Testament. 😉

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  14. Julie Reynolds

    I read this and struggled to get through the words. This has become my dry advent. No wailing, no goosebumps – just dry parched and yet so thirsty. I am so thankful for this. “I’m not meant to wear a crown. I’m made to worship, not to be worshiped.” so true. As I lay in a heap here in the dry dust at His feet, I am thankful for your gentle leading once again. Love you friend.

    Reply
  15. Words well said to say what I have sometimes struggled with too – repentance and doing things His way and not the way I want. The advent waiting stills the heart and allows room for renewal, restoration, and the saturation of God-truth. Thank you for being vulnerable with us.

    Reply

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