Monday, December 14, 2015

Joyful and Triumphant

Every year at this time I crave meaning. The emphasis on things, the fluff, and clutter, even the indulgent foods, shout so loud that the Bread of Life, my real sustenance, can seem dimmed and hard to find. Yet, God always brings His presence to the forefront in unexpected ways.

At times God has brought sickness or injury to turn my attentions toward Him. Other times it is financial strain, a move, or even the death of someone close to me. While these life difficulties add stress to the season, at the same time, I can look back and say they were a gift, for God made Himself known to me in ways I never imagined. He showed His faithfulness in the midst of them and brought me to the other side overflowing with His fullness . . . rich meaning.

These experiences enhance worship, taking it to a deeper level. Like the boy with his five loaves and two fish, I bring before the Lord what I have. I lay it out before Him. I present my worry, my sadness, my trial, and, miraculously, He gives grace upon grace. Yet, the process of laying my concerns at the feet of Jesus never comes without a wrestling match.

This year is no different. I'm fighting hard to align my will with God's. At first I resisted being forced to simplify, but now, in that simplicity, I'm finding great treasure. The deadlines rushing up to meet me, no longer matter. I can be at rest in the fact that Christmas cards won't be sent, there is no flurry of shopping, and no frantic cooking or endless decorating of cookies. Instead, there is great creativity in using the resources I already have around the house, and much delight in doing so. God is reminding me loud and clear that this world is not my home.

Yet, while I enjoy the creativity, I fight to keep my focus on eternal values because there is a constant pull towards the tangible expectations of how Christmas is supposed to look. The temptation to be short sighted is very real. And the lie lingers in my mind that I must be a bad parent if my children are disappointed.

However, as I'm choosing to fix my mind on Jesus, my eternal home is becoming more and more clear and I'm finding a joy which cannot be explained. I don't mean that I'm happy all the time. (My family can certainly attest to that!) In fact, the opposite is often the case. I've been grieving over the serious illness of my father-in-law and over a bondage that has captured a dear friend. But I'm learning and growing. I'm not the same person I was before. It may have taken my whole lifetime, but I think God is finally getting through to my thick skull, and that is this. Where I choose to settle in my thoughts determines where I dwell in my living. 

All this time, all those years, I never fully understood who I am in Christ. Oh, I knew it positionally, but allowed lies to crowd and clutter truth so that it could not always be worked out in my everyday practice of routine life. What a difference it makes that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us! This baby, the Christ child, changes everything. Because He lives, I live. Not a mere existence, nor a drudgery, or a dread of the future, but joyful and triumphant living!  My circumstances do not matter, because meaning is not found there.  It is found only in a relationship with Jesus, the anchor for my soul. This Christmas, I sink deep into His embrace.  O the wonders of His love!

O come, all ye faithful,
joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem,
Come and behold Him,
Born the King of angels,

O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him
Christ the Lord.

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