A note from Josie: Erin Healy has become one of my favorite authors. She writes about the “thin places.” Erin describes these places as “locations in the world where the veil between physical and spiritual realities is so delicate that a person can see through it. For me, thin places are revelations about what it means to be a spiritual creation in a physical world.” As I’ve interacted with Erin through Facebook, email and her novels, I see a beautiful person who loves the Lord in the midst of sometimes challenging circumstances. I am always challenged, blessed and encouraged when I read something Erin has written. When I read her most recent newsletter, I knew I had to share it with you. I hope that you are as blessed as I am by her words.
A little girl walks down a frozen sidewalk, holding her daddy's hand. The two shop for simple things today: toothpaste, socks, peanut butter. A weighty paper sack sits securely in her father's arm. The stores are decorated for the holidays, warm lights on cold snow, but winter has come early, already harsh. The family's house burned down two weeks ago, and the blaze reduced life as they knew it to its simplest elements: love, pain, hope. This Christmas their gifts will be simple and their gratitude refined.
A tall window rimmed in white lights frames a woman's evening dress, cobalt blue and elegant, the liquid fabric kissing the heels of the mannequin's sandals. The little girl pauses at the glittering glass. She lets go of her daddy's fingers and leans in for a closer look. Her breath fogs the pane. It is a dress of dreams. A brooch the size of her fist cinches the waistline, and the high illusion collar is trimmed with jewels that catch the light like stars.
"I need a dress, Daddy."
"Yes you do." The flames ate all but the outfit she was wearing.
"I like this one."
She doesn't see her father smile and shift the shopping bag to his other arm.
"I want this one. Can I have it?"
"It'll be a few years before you're ready for that dress, honey."
"But I want it now. Please? You said I need a dress."
"You do, and I'll make sure you have what you need. Listen." He squats beside her, looks into her face kissed with a glow from all the blue dazzle. "When you're big enough for that dress, I promise to buy it for you."
"What if someone else gets it first? What if it's gone by then?"
"I'll make sure you have a dress that you love even more than this one. What do you say?"
She tears her eyes away from the window and searches his face for truth. He isn't teasing her. "Promise?" she asks.
"I promise." He stands.
"How long is a few years?"
"The blink of an eye."
She tests this. It's too hard to blink just one eye, so she does both, then looks at him sideways, unconvinced. He laughs, and she thinks of Santa, and decides she can wait. The child takes a last look at the beautiful gown. Then she takes her daddy's hand and is content again.
Today it would take both hands and most of my toes to count all the people I know and love whose lives have been reduced by some heartbreak to the simplest elements: eat, sleep, wake, work if you can. Hold on to hope with fingers that are stiff with cold. Shivering, we walk down frosty sidewalks lined with showcases filled all the things we want--no, things we need--but for one reason or another can't have. Yet.
Christmas seems to be a season of anticipation. We wait, either with expectation or cynicism, for all kinds of things. Good things. God, we pray, when will you meet the need? When will you grant relief? Could it please be now?
I believe that sometimes God grants us glimpses of what will be, the way he told his disciple Simon that his name would be Peter, and that one day--not at that moment--he would become a true rock, a pillar of faith (Matthew 16:17-18).
Recently I saw something of life that I want, that I think I need, and I asked God if I could have it. Please? Like a little girl with her hands and face pressed to a glistening shop window. "Yes," I believe I heard him say. "I want that for you too. But it'll be several years before you can have it."
What is several years? Three? Thirty-three? I don't know. The point is not the timing, but the promise. I will not leave you as orphans. I will come to you. My peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives (John 14:18,27). It's the promise that keeps the hope alive, that allows us to take God's hand and believe he will give us what we need for today, so that we can live fully now, in spite of what we think we lack. Because he is Emmanuel; he is with us in the present moment.
Today I live with socks, toothpaste, and peanut butter instead of an evening gown, and it is enough. Contentment feeds hope.
This Christmas, may God refresh his promises to you, and may you choose to believe them. May today be a big enough container to hold all the hope he offers. And may you be able to take his hand, which will keep you warm.
*This post first appeared in Erin Healy's December 2013 Newsletter. Used by permission.
Erin Healy is an award-winning fiction editor who has worked with many talented novelists. She began working with Ted Dekker in 2002 and edited twelve of his heart-pounding stories before their collaboration on Kiss, the first novel to seat her on “the other side of the desk.”
Erin is the owner of WordWright Editorial Services, a consulting firm specializing in fiction book development. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and the Academy of Christian Editors. She lives with her family in Colorado.
Author Website: www.erinhealy.com
Erin’s new novel Stranger Things releases on New Year’s Eve. Get a sneak peak at the first two chapters here: http://www.erinhealy.com/2013/10/26/stranger-things/