Thursday, December 30, 2010

I Lost Jesus

When I was looking for a nativity set for our home it was important to me to find one where the baby Jesus figure was separate from the manger. It is tradition for us to wait to put out the Jesus figure on Christmas Eve. This year as we were setting out our decorations I put the baby Jesus away someplace safe and obvious so that I could bring it out on the 24th. Needless to say, I can't remember where that was.

As I was searching the house, I started thinking about my Christmas preparations and expectations and realized that, unfortunately, in the midst of all that is going on, I often lost sight of Jesus. Try as I might, staying focused on the source of the joy for this season has been a struggle. I try to plan activities that will keep our family pointed in the right direction, and they do help, but it is all too easy to move on after a particular Bible reading, advent activity or other Christ focused time and move Him to the back of our minds.

I began to realize how much this is like my search for the figurine. I've been looking all over the place to make Jesus real to us this holiday. Not that that is a bad thing. It is good for us to seek to put Him first now and always, but sometimes I miss seeing Him because I am too busy looking. I might do well to remember to stop and listen, to reflect, to start my day by asking Him to reveal Himself in a special way. I think that we did better as a family focusing on Christ than we have, but until each day is totally centered on the Lord of lords, I will keep looking for Him. I hope that you will too.

Monday, December 20, 2010

"But Mary"

Luke gives us such a wonderful account of the birth of our Savior. I can just picture the hustle and bustle of the crowds in Bethlehem, can't you. If you have ever been to the mall this time of year, you know what it was like. Parking spaces are at a premium, aisles are filled with shoppers, and the thing you most wanted to pick up is out of stock.

I feel for Joseph. This was not his original plan. The timing couldn't be worse. Who wants to travel all that way with a wife who is about to deliver? Not only that, when he gets to town, there is no place to stay. I'm sure he was feeling a bit frustrated. I know I would be. I am sure that he wanted a warm, dry, safe place for Mary to have the baby. Isn't it great that God's plans are never thwarted? Full inns do not hinder Him. He always accomplishes His purpose in the way that He planned to.

There was so much going on that first Christmas: a bustling city with throngs of people intent on pursuing their goals, the birth of the Christ, a visit to shepherds by a choir of angels, shepherds visiting Christ and sharing their story. It must have been a bit overwhelming.

Luke tells us in 2:19 that Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. Wow! She didn't get caught up in all the commotion, but pondered these things. How often do we stop in the midst of the hustle and bustle of our Christmas preparation and celebration to ponder the things of God? For me, it is not often enough. I am making an effort this year to be more intentional in my meditations on the Christmas story. God teaches us so much when we are willing to sit down and listen. I pray you all have a wonderful Christmas and that your celebration of God's gift is peppered with time to ponder what He has done.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Good and Perfect Gifts

Why is it so hard to accept that all of God's gifts to me are good and perfect for me? Everything that God gives me and allows in my life is ultimately to make me into one who glorifies Him perfectly. In my heart of hearts that is what I want most.

I can list blessing after blessing from God. I have life (both physical and eternal), health, family, home, friends, car, clothing, food, eyesight, intellect, peace, safety, money, flowers, sports, etc. The blessings are like an mountain river when the spring thaw arrives. I can't name them fast enough. Before I can write one down, ten more are in my mind. I KNOW that God's gifts are good and perfect.

Yet, when I start to focus on myself instead of the gifts and the giver, I become dissatisfied. I don't have everything that I think that I want when I want it. I have things that I don't think that I want. I don't want uncomfortable feelings with former close friends. I don't want difficult people. I don't want a sick child, too many things on my to do list, disobedient children, high prices and low incomes, to be merciful and gracious at all times, to love even the unlovely... Those things are hard, no fun, "not my gift". I think I want an easy life, but then I read James 1:17 "Every good and perfect gift is from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." The first part of the verse is well known, but what about the fact that my Father in heaven doesn't change? This Christmas season I want to work on remembering that my loving, all knowing Father has given me only good and perfect gifts in order to make me into the woman He has called me to be.