“God with us.”

(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, as she thought about her young and still-growing family;  a now, almost two-year old, and another on the way.

Looking around the home office, she thought about the changes that had come from rarely being on the road anymore;  about continuing to be able to work most days in whatever she worked-out in;  about still needing to engineer 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.”

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 ever-larger family – and friends.

They talked about families, about well-being, in some cases, about becoming well again.  The discussion turned towards business.  “How was 2014?”, he finally asked.  “And – how are you doing?  There have been a lot of life-changes.”

“It still feels very different”, she said.  “A lot of the work is now with the production workshops;  I suppose the decision I made years ago – to work where I live, instead of live where I work – pays off when you can host your workshops in a five-diamond resort two miles from your house.  Except for the away conferences and speaking engagements, I do almost all of my work here now.  And – I’ve got this great little guy who needs me, and another on the way.

“In some areas, things that should change never do seem to change;  the eighth year of six-figure declines from personal peak consulting income has been almost as much fun as the first seven.”

It was a very tired joke, told too many times, for too many years.  She thought about the duration and the cost of this housing recession and the economy itself, and shook her head.  It was becoming a lost decade.  She was grateful she could still find a bit of humor in it, but the duration had made it a heavy lift;  she had to count the years on the fingers of both hands to make sure the number of years was right.

“But, you know, The Pipeline continues to sell;  the c-levels seem to be in agreement that these production principles have been missing, and are necessary.  And, the book did result in the growing series of successful public, sponsored workshops;  it’s interesting;  we had established the workshops as a goal more than seven years ago, and it has finally happened.

“Professionally, that’s where I want to be;  as the housing industry returns to whatever the new-normal is, 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.”

The intrepid, results-based consultant ended her call, rose from her chair, and walked to the fireplace.  She placed another log onto the fire, and watched the glowing embers rise towards the flue;  her mind turned away from work.

She thought about the birth of her own first-born child, the approaching birth of her next child:  the hope and apprehension, the joy and inevitable challenges, the changes to their lives, the newness each birth brought.  Her thoughts turned to Christmas, the one almost here and each one previous.

And, she thought about the first Christmas.

She wondered what the tiny town of Bethlehem must have been like that night, 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 soon-to-be-born son.  To almost everyone else, he was just another child, born in an insignificant city, into a world under the authority of the Roman Empire.

She considered the character, the attributes of the Creator of the universe, the Author of all that is good, the Lover of her soul.  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, mindful of all the distractions to purposeful living that daily life could present.

“And, 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.”