(an updated version of this entry appears on Escape from Averageness every year, at Christmas)
The intrepid, results-based consultant reclined in the desk chair, put her feet on the desk, and smiled at the young man crawling across the oriental rug towards her. Quite a difference one year had made in the life of her young and growing family. Looking around the home office, she thought about the changes that came from rarely being on the road anymore; about being able to work most days in whatever she worked out in; about needing to engineer a separation between personal and work life, where before, it had naturally existed.
Her cell phone rang. It was an old business friend. “Where are you?”, he asked.
Home. Simply, home. The last week of meaningful work for the year. She was looking forward to a well-deserved break with her family – her now-larger family – and friends.
They talked about families, about well-being, and then about business. “How was 2013?”, he finally asked. “And – how are you doing? There have been a lot of life-changes.”
“It’s different, I have to admit”, she said. “I work so much from home now. And – I’ve got this great little guy that needs me. Some things that do need to change never seem to change; the seventh year of six-figure declines from personal peak consulting income has been almost as much fun as the first six.”
She laughed as she said it, but it was a tired joke, told too many times, for too many years. She thought about the duration and the cost, and shook her head. It seemed like a lost decade. She was grateful she could still find the humor in it, but it was a heavier lift; she had to count the years on her fingers to make sure the number of years was right.
“But, I finished The Pipeline and published it. Builders buy it, and seem agree that the production principles and disciplines have been missing and are necessary. And, it has lead towards what we want to become a series of public sponsored workshops. The first event is in March, and – since it’s here – I won’t have to travel; another advantage of choosing to work where I live. And, professionally, that’s where I want to be; as it comes back, I want to turn more of the road work over to the other consultants.
“In every way that really matters, I am doing very well.”
“In that case, Merry Christmas”, he said.
“Same to you.”
Her mind turned away from work. She thought about the birth of her own first-born child, the hope and apprehension, the joy and inevitable challenges, the changes to their lives, the newness it had brought. Her thoughts turned to Christmas, the one almost here and each previous one.
And, she thought about the first Christmas.
She wondered what the tiny town of Bethlehem must have been like, so long ago. She thought about another young mother and father, who had made their trip with few resources, facing an uncertain future. She thought about their own soon-to-be-born son. To almost everyone else, he was just another faceless child, born in an insignificant city, into a world under the control of the Roman Empire.
She considered the character, the attributes of the Creator of the universe, the Author of all that is good. She thought about His grace and mercy. She thought about the words of the apostle Paul, buried deep in his first letter to the small group of believers in Corinth, describing faith, hope, and love, the principles of the grace she now pondered.
She leaned further back into her chair and closed her eyes. “Thank you”, she prayed, softly.
“Thank you for giving me a faith that looks back into history and trusts that the claims this child would one day make about Himself are true, and that every moment of time and event of history either points towards, or proceeds from, that truth.
“Thank you also for giving me a hope that understands eternity means never-ending, not just somewhere-down-the-road; thank you for giving me a hope that looks forward from the perspective of the eternal life I have right now, but also understands that, one day, this world – with its share of both joy and pain, and varying degrees of fulfillment – will end, and I will live, constantly and eternally, in Your presence.”
The intrepid, results-based consultant thought about a final point of gratitude, considering how everyone else viewed her as such a practical, in-the-moment realist.
“And, yes, thank you for giving me a love that will sustain me, motivate me, and give me purpose and perspective, until either Christ returns, or until You call me home.”
The intrepid, results-based consultant thought about the events of that night, so long ago. There was a birth. Later, there would be a death and a resurrection. In between, there would be an earthly life.
“In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” (John 1:4). Her thoughts were about newness and life.
“And you shall call His name Immanuel.” (Is. 7:14)
“God with us.”