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STORY: Christmas in The Desert


Since Papa Bill was a boy, he had gotten up early to watch the sun rise. He had been orphaned young and these were the moments where God renewed his faith that God intended to give them another day, and had something good waiting for him. Even when he was a husband and then a father he'd stand on his balcony and watch the Seattle sun rise above the water, before anyone else was up. Now that he had a family, the sun was a reminder each day that God indeed had given him good things.


When they were raising their little family, there was one day each year that they'd all watch the sunrise together. It was Christmas. They'd all get up early, wrapped in blankets and pajamas, hold each other close and sing "Oh Come Emanuel." It was Papa Bill's favorite moment each year. Everyone got to experience that faithfulness to the goodness that had trained his heart to trust over so many years.


But that was before the car accident that took his youngest daughter's life at age 18. And before cancer took his wife Betsy away a decade later. And before the job in Germany that his son couldn't pass up took him, and his little family away. And before Bill's other daughter followed them out there a year later. And now Papa Bill, having struggled with Asthma, had decided to move away from his beloved neighborhood to a personal care facility in Arizona, for the dry air.

This was the first Christmas they were all apart. He had assured them he'd be okay, but as he sat on the balcony that bordered a vast dry desert, his heart dropped. After all those years, would he be alone again from now on?


The sky was lightening over the desert. He let his Bible fall open. It settled open on Psalm 90. Papa Bill lifted it close to his reading glasses and read,


"Fill us in the morning with Your loving-kindness.

"Let us sing for joy and be glad all our days."


And as he looked up, the sun peaked above the distant mountains. He remembered all of the gifts he had been given, all of God's goodness to him. But it was only now in the desert, being alone with only one other, that he was reminded of his first love again. He began to sing,


"O come, o come Emmanuel

To free your captive Israel

That mourns in lonely exile here

Until the Son of God appear

Rejoice, rejoice o Israel

To you shall come Emmanuel."


He would not be alone from now on. A new kingdom with a King he loved had come to be with him, and would come in even more reality again.


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This life indeed is rich with many beautiful and difficult things in it. But we must remember these are only gifts from the even greater Gift that has come, and will come again.


-Raw Spoon, 9-23-21

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