Christmas While Waiting For Restoration
Christmas. It is that wonderful time of year when families celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. It is a time of cheer, a time of blessing and a time of… Wait! Hold on a minute! If we are honest with our thoughts, it’s a time of remembrance. A time when we had our spouses in the same house and a sense of great love and anticipation as we watched our “I do” open the special present we spent hours picking just for them. The reality is that we may be feeling sad, that this year our spouse is not in the same house, not even in our lives in a meaningful way and our children may be splitting time between 2 houses.
Sometimes we remember the hard times.
Deana, my beautiful wife of over 21 years remembers it this way:
“It’s been six years. Six years since we have sent out Christmas cards. There are a lot of reasons – social media, cost, all the other activities competing for our time – but most of all, it’s because we have struggled as a family. In January of 2012 Koji and I were separated. That year in November, I couldn’t bear to send out the cards I had printed, cards with a picture of the three of us – Jackson, Kaiya and myself. No Koji. It broke my heart. I didn’t know where we were headed as a family and I knew that those cards would cause a lot of confusion. Questions I didn’t want to answer. I also didn’t feel right sending them out to family members that might not know of our failing marriage. So I kept quiet. For my sake. For the kid’s sake. And for Koji’s sake. I didn’t want my card to cause him to have to face something he wasn’t ready to. That wasn’t fair. I didn’t know what he had said, if anything, to his family. What a broken time this was.
Holidays were the hardest. I hadn’t spent a Christmas without my husband since I was 18. Facing the inevitable was excruciating. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how this all was going to work. Two different houses. Two different families, yet still somehow one.”
Christmas was downright painful that year. Imminent divorce had changed everything. The normal things that brought us both joy felt like anchors tied to our hearts. In that moment, Christmas was hard. What made it even more difficult was that almost all the thoughts were focused on what we didn’t have anymore. In reality, the pain had squeezed Jesus right out of the picture.
At that moment, it felt like God wasn’t there. I remember how lonely we both felt.
Then, we witnessed a true miracle. Not only did I accept Jesus as my Savior, I also had a revelation of covenant. Covenant means that we are joined by God, in His presence, on our wedding day, until one of us dies and goes to Heaven. Covenant means we never give up on one another. Covenant means we are connected for life, divorced or married. Covenant means that regardless of what we want, God wants us to spend our lives together, glorifying Him. Deana already knew this, but as the prodigal, it took an encounter with Jesus for my heart to soften and change.
God had planned for us to be together. Before we were even born. Deana shared: “I was so blessed and privileged to witness the actual moment when my husband had this revelation. He looked at me, with tears in his eyes, and said, ‘Deana, I just learned that God planned for us to be together even before we were born. It is the enemy that is trying to steal our marriage and I am not going to let that happen.’”
Moments later, we renewed our vows in a room full of more than 500 people. Deana remembers, “I looked at my husband, as I recited those vows and I never felt so much love from him. It was the love that Jesus had planted in his heart. A love so indestructible that it can literally overcome anything. What an amazing feeling that was.”
In that moment, it was easy to remember that God was there and with us. It is very much like Isaac’s son Jacob in Genesis. You’ll remember the story. Jacob had stolen a blessing, he had taken livestock from his uncle, and he had wrestled with God. Yet, Jacob took a moment to remember. He had arrived in Bethel, a place of remembrance, and said “Then come, let us go up to Bethel, where I will build an altar to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and who has been with me wherever I have gone.” Genesis 35:3
Jacob remembered that God was not in just one place. He was in each place. He was there when he was prosperous, and He was there during his troubles. God was with Jacob wherever he went. If God did that for Jacob, He does it for you as well.
God was with you when you and your spouse made your vows and became a one flesh couple in the eyes of God. God was also with you when your cheeks blushed red as your spouse playfully kissed you in front of everyone at the family Christmas party. He was also with you when tears streamed down your cheek as you thought about having a Christmas without your spouse at your side. As God was with Jacob, He is also with you. No matter what.
This is something for you to remember. God is with you. In fact, during this season that celebrates the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, we’ll likely sing a Christmas song with the word Emmanuel in it. Emmanuel (from Isaiah 7:14) means “God with us.” God is indeed with us. He is with you. He is also with your spouse – even if they are not home with you where they belong. Have faith that God has sent His Spirit to intercede on behalf of your marriage. And like Deana and I, one day, your marriage will be restored.
Today, Deana and I still have a funny moment about Christmas cards. Truth be told, we are terrible about getting them out. However, during this season, we give praise to our Father that He sent His one and only Son to dwell with us so we could witness the ultimate victory.
So today, we are blessed beyond all measure. Christmas after our marriage restoration is even sweeter than it was before we were separated. All our attention goes to giving praise to the goodness of our Lord Jesus Christ. If you peeked inside the window of our new home in Charlotte, NC, you would see:
- Our daughter Kaiya who is happily home schooled at Liberty University’s online academy.
- Our son Jackson who is home from Liberty University, who just finished singing praise music to God at Liberty University School of Music where he is studying music production. (Shhh – We are praying that he’ll one day produce the next Elevation Worship or Bethel Worship release).
- You’ll find Deana sitting next to our Christmas tree texting away to one of the many women of God she disciples or is discipled by.
- You’ll find two Cairn Terriers who we call our prayer pups who somehow find a front row seat to every small group ministry session.
- And you’ll find me, likely weeping with joy that God is so good, that He made it His mission to make sure I knew He was my Father and that His plan was to restore my marriage and put me on track of His call – not mine.
I can tell you that this was certainly not the picture you would have seen years ago. I believe with all my heart that the Lord released His blessing upon us the moment when both of us stepped into alignment with His plan for our lives.
This Christmas, I pray that you remember that God is with you – regardless of where you are. Hurting or healed, separated or restored. I also pray that in all of your moments, you remember that God already has a blessing that is reserved just for you and your spouse. In God’s version of restoration, it is a “slate wiped clean” restoration and a launch into an entirely new season that far exceeds anything you can imagine. It is yours with faith and confidence in what you hope for and assurance about what you do not see.