Ahhh, here it is…the day after.
Adulthood consists mostly of three things, I think: paying bills, keeping your mouth shut, and grappling with the day after.
With Christmas behind us, there is now a comedown. Family is gone, the tree and wrapping paper have mutated from colorful expectation to
trash recycling fodder, and now we have to confront just how much the entire affair has strained our waistlines and credit cards. Certainly, there’s some relief in escaping the pressure of busyness and getting to unwrap that “peace and quiet” present we wanted most of all. If you’re don’t struggle with this “day after”, I’m certainly happy for you. Feel free to close this post and have a mineral water or something. But for others of us, there is…a letdown. A crash back to earth. If it hasn’t come already, it might still, once the last of the family has hopped in the van and left, or once New Year’s is past.
(A moment of silence for the teachers out there, by the way. Their comedown is the worst, for they are now hitting the longest unbroken stretch of the school year. Heroic souls.)
Post-Christmas blues are a real thing. We spend months looking so forward to the food and the reverent atmosphere. It’s such a refuge. I mean, “the day we can play Christmas music” is now Halloween. Soon it’ll be Labor Day. Then the Fourth of July. But after it passes, we have to go back to work. There’s another cycle of life waiting. Nose back to the grindstone.
Even God seems to fade. He is easy to take hold of during Christmas; indeed, he almost seems inescapable. But in January, he becomes elusive again. Or we do.
It can be really disheartening.
But I wonder whether the distance we are required to “come down” from high points in our lives has been greatly exaggerated.
Life has a lot of mountaintop moments. Holidays are only one kind. The moments come, joy and wonder are easy to grasp, God is near, and then…we must return to the valley. That’s just life. But the Bible does not seem to speak of the love of God that way, sporadic, variable, elusive. It speaks of God’s love and presence as steady and powerful, constantly available for the asking.
Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again. But whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a fount of water springing up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14)
I just blogged about this, but it bears repeating: the Bible offers wildly different promises for outer realities and inner realities. For outer realities (i.e. circumstances), we really aren’t guaranteed much. The Curse persists. But for inner realities, the Biblical writers seem to see something much different, something they’re excited about – joy and peace available in any circumstance. (Tired of me talking about that yet? Well, too bad.) The difference is stark. Indeed, Scripture teaches that God is so excited about the love he offers us that he’s willing to let our outer prosperity go to pot so that we must reach for the inner. Tragically, we are too often slow or unwilling to turn to him otherwise.
It makes me think: if the love of God was truly active and flowing in our hearts at full capacity, just how far would the post-Christmas dropoff be? If we were truly tuned in to Christ in every moment, how much dreaded, seemingly unavoidable post-holiday crash would we really need to undergo?
God waits eagerly for us to approach him in any given hour. Whatever miracles he will not work in our lives, for whatever reasons, he will work miracles in our hearts. That much he does promise. What if, this year, we gave the “day after” to God? What if we prayed something like,
Lord, I give this day to you. I give you my disappointments, my weariness, my resignation at having to get back to the trudge of life. I give you all the arguments that went down, all the consequences of our celebration, all the ripples and aftereffects that I don’t even see coming yet. You can handle all this better than I. I ask for your hope, your joy, and your peace. Give me a new revelation of your love today. I declare that the promise of baby Jesus does not diminish one iota just because the calendar says December 26. Give me a willing spirit to sustain me. Lift my eyes again to the kingdom where there will be no “day after”.
Oh, yes, my friends…we’re headed for an era when there will be no “day after”.
Isn’t that a startling hope? We know all about coming down from mountaintop experiences. Imagine finally getting to live on the mountaintop. I’m constantly on the lookout for new, tangible ways to phrase our coming eternity, and this seems like a good one – no more “day after”. Could our beings even hold such constant joy? Probably only after a transformation. It’s worth getting out of bed on December 26. It’s worth running the race. We have only a few more post-Christmas blues before we stand before the throne in white.
This year, I’ll try that prayer. Maybe you’ll join me. I want to see just how many ways God can crash through the structures life tries to impose on us. I want to see just how much of his love I can get.
Happy New Year, my friends. I hope you had a great Christmas.
(And yes, some wrapping paper can be recycled.)