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Something Wonderful!

I love fall. The clean-window effect of the chilling, changing atmosphere; the quick sting and tickle of match smoke; the heady, drowsy scent of burning wood and clove candles; the crackle-crunch of fallen leaves under my feet; the weighty warmth of cable-knit sweaters against my chest and confidence of tall leather boots; the sweet spice of pumpkin, gingerbread, and cinnamon confections. I love it all!

In my mind, fall is a beautiful promise of even greater things to come, Thanksgiving, first, and then—be still my heart—Christmas in all its splendor, a reward for the sweat, toil, and tears that we invest the rest of the year, a welcome opportunity to bask in the warmth of fellowship, reflect, partake, and celebrate the birth of our blessed Savior Jesus Christ.

And then it’s over.

Sure, there’s New Year’s Eve, but New Year’s Eve, to me, is nothing more than a consolation prize, the after-shock that follows Christmas, a man-made excuse to leave the tree up an extra week.

I love fall because it is on the front end of something wonderful. I miss it when it’s gone, much like I used to miss my youth, those years when emotion and energy ran high, anything seemed possible, and faith came easily. Back then, carried along by recent memories of mountaintop highs and miraculous beginnings, I expected my future to be an endless series of such events marked by easy intimacy with God, a constant flow of obvious and expected blessing, and an abundant harvest.

It happened, and it didn’t.

As the demands of adulthood, marriage, and parenthood took their toll, I found it more and more difficult to find time alone with God and found that I had more to confess when I got there before intimacy could be experienced. God was faithful to bless, but not in the way that I had expected. I found I had to look for the blessing in the midst of heartache and disappointment. I worked hard for the Kingdom, but seldom saw the harvest. When it came, I was grateful, but wondered what I had done wrong the rest of the time. God was real, but the difficulties of life sometimes seemed more so.

I began to think that the best was behind me, that I would never again experience the freedom and joy of my youth, the euphoria of a spirit set free by God’s love, mercy, and grace. Life was just too much in the way. What made it worse was knowing that I hadn’t fully appreciated what I had when I had it, and it was gone forever.

Or was it?

Between the births of our children, Hunter and Hope, Todd and I lost a baby to miscarriage. That was the first time that I gave Heaven any real thought. Up until that point, Heaven was the shiny spot in Sunday school illustrations that wasn’t the sun, the “better place” where Grandad and Pepa and other dear ones had gone to wait on the rest of the family, the finish line, where no one would be hungry or cry anymore and we would get to see what Jesus really looked like.

But Heaven took on a whole new meaning for me when we miscarried. I began to think about it all the time and pay more attention when it was mentioned in my Bible. Over time, I’ve grown to appreciate what Heaven really means for those of us who have put our faith and hope in Jesus Christ and understand just how wonderful our future home really is. Truthfully, the more I study it, the more excited I get. Some days, I just want to press fast-forward and get there now.

Brothers and sisters, the best is not behind us like we thought! It lies ahead, glorious and endless. Think of it! In a glittering Heaven lit by God’s glory alone, we will finally find the rest we crave. Reunited with our loved ones who also believed, we will fellowship, partake, give thanks, and celebrate with exultant hearts the One who gave us life and gives us hope. There’s nothing like it here on earth. Not one of us has felt a thrill that even comes close.

So, take heart, my friends! Live in joyful anticipation and confident expectation. If you belong to Jesus Christ, the joy of Christmas is ever before you, and life here on earth is forever fall.

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