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We Have Seen His Glory

Christmas Carol: In the Bleak Midwinter

Living on the Hope of a Promise

by Rachel Jones

My father spent 20 years in the U.S. Army as an enlisted soldier. While it was an adventurous way to grow up, it was a difficult life of waiting. Waiting on orders. Waiting to move. Waiting to hear that Daddy was okay. The waiting was difficult.

Following my birth, my father was granted only a few weeks leave. Owing to an unaccompanied tour of duty, it would be nearly two years before we met again. My mom often told the story of how, when asked where Daddy was, I would point to his picture on the shelf. Though she’d told me countless times he would be coming home, my toddler mind couldn’t imagine anything of my father other than that picture. Though I was unaware, my life was about to change. That is an interesting thing about life; we rarely have the benefit of recognizing when a season of waiting is nearing its completion. So, when he did come home, I didn’t know him. It took time to understand that the picture and promises had finally given way to my father’s real presence. At last, I understood that he wasn’t just a picture, or stories, or a voice I strained to hear through the staticky receiver of a telephone. He was real, and he was in my living room!

Over the years, my parents always took every opportunity to teach us about faith, patience and endurance during our seasons of waiting. But our experiences seem to pale in comparison to the centuries of waiting and longing endured by the children of Israel.

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Having nothing more tangible than a promise, God’s people waited in expectation for the coming Messiah. In all those centuries, did any of them secretly lose faith? Did they recite the promises of Isaiah in worship, but return home to dismiss the Promised One as a mere legend? Israel was in the winter of their waiting, though they did not know it. But waiting takes its toll on the spirit. Perhaps that’s why it was poor shepherds who first celebrated Jesus’ birth. The poor have an advantage over us all: waiting cannot deplete them, because they already have nothing—nothing but themselves. Fortunately, this is all that is required. When we are empty and fearful to approach Him in our physical and spiritual poverty, there is hope! Our Maker saw our plight and caused us to come into this life with the only thing he requires: ourselves.

What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." – Matthew 5:3 NIV

Click the play button above to hear "In the Bleak Midwinter" performed by Sarah Hurst

Recording Engineer: Bradley Hilliard | Written by: Christina Rossetti | Arranged by: Sarah Hurst and Bradley Hilliard

Rachel Jones, Minister of Music and Children at Haltom Road Baptist Church, is a current Ph.D. student with a concentration in Ministry Leadership at Dallas Baptist University.

Sarah Hurst graduated with a Music Business degree from Dallas Baptist University.

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