Defeated.

I can’t do this alone. That’s why Christmas happened.

It happened so that we can have hope, hope that fights for us. Hope that hinges on a victory that’s already been claimed. 

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That Santa, he was kind … and kind of plain spoken. And he wasn’t giving me much to work with.

“Tell me about a kid from sometime over the years who really made an impression on you.”

He thought about it for a minute.

“I remember one time a kid said if he didn’t get what he asked for, he was going to bring a knife with him next time he came to see Santa.”

I can’t print that, I thought. It’s kinda awesome, but I can’t print that.

I was interviewing Santa for a community newspaper here in town. In my non-coffee life, I’m a journalist. I spend a lot of time hearing people’s stories and retelling them.

People like Santa.

People like wrestlers.

A couple of weeks after Santa’s story I sat down on some bleacher seats across from three brothers, all key members of the high school wrestling team. They were kind. They were kind of plain spoken.

And I had a feeling that if they were provoked they could really do some damage.

“I know you fight hard when you compete. But do you ever fight each other?”

They all laughed … and nodded.

They don’t just fight. They break beds. They bust walls. They splinter furniture.

“It’s the worst when we fight each other. We know each other’s moves. We know each other’s weaknesses. So when we fight, we nearly kill each other every time.”

I’m no wrestler.

But I knew what they meant.

*****

I lay there in the bed, the weight in the room heavy and thick.

Like it could bust walls. Splinter furniture.

Kill me.

It feels like lately God has been doing a great work … an unspeakably great work, the kind that brings hope, the kind that pushes back the control of the darkness and sets us free to walk away.

It’s like I’ve heard chains popping around me. It hits me deep in the feels. It’s literally the best thing in the world.

It feels like Christmas.

But where light invaded, darkness came up swinging from a long winter’s nap. It’s like a fight got picked in the living room, the kind that goes from zero to gut-punch and hits you right where it hurts, like a brother who’s been watching your weak places since the day you were born and just waiting for the right opportunity to use them. It’s a well-studied enemy who knows what hurts. Darkness knows where you’re tired. It goes for those spots.

“God,” I whispered. “The darkness has no power here. No right to be here. You have so much more power. Please make it stop.”

As I lay there in the dark, heart pounding, it was one of those moments where the fight felt more real than it ever had, the transcendental more tangible than it ever had been. Like I could feel Jesus’ arms around me. But like I could see the glowing eyes of the enemy from inches away.

I had a lot of thoughts.

But one rose to the surface.

Thank God for Jesus. What if we didn’t know He won? What if we thought the outcome was still up in the air?

This week’s been a weak one. My Bible has stayed tucked in the same spot for days between the front seats of my car. I’ve let the radio take the time that Jesus and I usually talk while I drive. My back seat is an explosion of dirty clothes and gift wrap and coffee shop aprons, and it shows the state of my week.

Not quite together.

Can I life? Maybe. But I can’t brush up against an enemy who smells my exhaustion and knows when I haven’t looked into the eyes of Jesus this week and let the glow of victory fill me up. I can’t lean on the fact that He who is in me is greater than he who is in the world when I’m not firmly gripping His hand.

He’s given us the biggest gift we could ever want. Ever.

Himself.

The fact that He’s already fought for us and won.

I can’t win this. I’m defeated before the first punch gets thrown.

But as I lay there in the darkness, I found myself thanking Him that the enemy’s eyes were trained on my world that night. Seems like a weird thing to be thankful for. Of course I didn’t want it. I hated it. But it reminded me.

I can’t do this alone. That’s why Christmas happened.

It happened so that we can have hope, hope that fights for us. Hope that hinges on a victory that’s already been claimed.

Hope that started before the enemy ever opened his eyes for the first time. Hope that started long before an infant opened his eyes in a manger, too.

And hope that’s there every morning I open mine, every time I shut them at night and the darkness tries to close in.

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(@gracefortheroadblog on Instagram.)