Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

The kids with Grammy, Poppy and Cousins

As we explained to our friends that we were leaving to the US for 6 months for HMA, they did not seem to understand. One said, "You will be back for Christmas, right?" So I explained to them that we had to go to our villages this Christmas to see our mothers for it had been a couple years since we had done so. This made sense to them and became our line.

So, a few weeks ago, we packed our car and began our trek across Uganda, to Europe, across Europe to meet with a dear friend for debriefing, and then to the US and our villages of Charleston, SC and Nashville, TN.
When we boarded the plane in Brussels to cross the Atlantic, the flight attendant said Merry Christmas. I smiled as I realized we would see my family in a few hours and said, "It sure is."

It is good to be with you this Christmas!
The Johnsons

What child is this?

In surprise I found myself tearing up while singing What Child is This? Surprise because of the image God brought to my mind.
Yesterday morning I felt like the train conductor of the Polar Express trying to pull back the breaks and bring the locomotive to rest only to frightfully watch as it continues to skid across the ice. In the past few weeks we have travelled across 4 countries, 7 cities, and 3 continents. Over the past week, my head has been swimming as my mind tries to reconcile the stark differences of everyday reality here and Bundibugyo. We also have jumped right in to the hustle of Chrismas buying gifts for those we love, waiting in long lines and praying for patience as we sit in traffic for hours just to reach that last store to buy that last perfect gift- only to be told that they don't have it, but their store across town has two left...
So, Sunday snuck up on me. It's Christmas Sunday, we are at "our home villages," with our families, to worship Jesus. I wanted to settle my heart and mind so I could enjoy the moment and worship Jesus. Yet, the brakes did not seem to stop my racing mind.
I pictured myself running through the rooms of my heart trying to find a quiet place to rest and pray. I opened one door and it was filled with all the things needed to do before Christmas. The next was filled with all the correspondence I want send out to friends to arrange time to see them. The next was filled with emotions from the past 3 years in Bundibugyo. Another had desires of being a better husband, father or team leader. Boxes fell out of each door as I quickly tried to push close the door and say- not now. I kept going down the stairs deeper into my heart seeking a place to see Jesus. There was no room.
Finally, in the deep recesses, buried behind dust and boxes of crap, I heard a peaceful steady voice speak into my frantic-ness and say I am here. There in the darkness, as I stumbled over boxes and pushed through cob-webs, a small light shown and I saw the baby Emanuel held by his mother and father, quietly sitting amongst the bustle of my heart.
I had no room and no time to prepare a room. The inns of my heart were full. I failed to prepare the palace for the coming king. Yet, this king, in His love,did not wait for me to be ready. He cleared his own space and pierced his light into my darkness, confusion and madness. He made his home with me, humbly, accepting my brokenness, filth, issues, frustrations, desires, misguidance, and busyness as his home. His love did not wait.
Like the shepherds, when I saw Him there we I did not expect Him, all I could do is proclaim in surprise, "what child is this?"

Location:New Highway 96 W,Franklin, TN,United States