Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Giving up "Christmas"

This year is not a year of "plenty" in worldly terms for us. I can't shop for gifts at Target. I can't stuff stockings. I can't buy my husband what I want to. I can't perform in my ideal, romantic way that I think Christmas should be.

This year has been a year of intense growth. Mike and I are getting our "feet under us". Moving out of my parents home and living on our own. Learning how to manage rent and utilities and helping plant a new church. Homeschooling all five kids.

A lot of the resources that we've used for help and support are no longer there to gird us. I haven't had an attendant to help us with the home and with the kids in over a year. I haven't received counseling in 6 months. Our financial resources are very limited.

But we are not growing personal debt with credit cards. Our son is not dying of cancer.

 God has provided and sustained us daily. We have food in our bellies. We have a warm home.We have CLEAN running water. We have each other. My kids are ALIVE!!!! There are many people who have suffered loss. I'm blessed to only experience a lack in "material goods". God has sustained us. And He will continue to do so.

We are working on our health. Working on caring for our bodies and our physical, emotional, mental, spiritual selves. But it's a battle. It's a battle relying on what you can't see. It's a battle choosing hope. Choosing to trust the Lord.

Our faith is one that completely contradicts worldly wisdom. Die so that you may live. Give so that you may receive. Be generous when you only have a few dollars left in your pocket.

I'm a GIVER. I love to give. I love finding just the right thing at thrift store for someone else. I love finding that person's favorite tea or slipping a 5 dollar starbucks card or a pack of stickers that will brighten their day. I love when friends leave my home and it's not empty-handed. So I have to let go of this year of not being able to give in the way I would like. 

And instead I need to embrace Christ. Embrace this mystery of God who abased Himself and became man and dwelt among us. Emmanuel, God with us. This if my greatest gift, my greatest prize... and I can in turn give it to others.

Who cares about picturesque Christmas mornings, gifts and stockings, etc. if our hearts are empty and our spirits are sagging? We can gain the whole world but have nothing if we don't have Christ.

Rejoice. Rejoice. He is here! Christ was born. He came and lived a perfect life and died in our place a horrific death. He paid the cost of our sin. He died and rose again! Again, that we may live! That we can be reconciled with God the Father. No longer separated. No longer judged. No longer disappointing. At fault. To blame. Jesus took that all.

And He gave us peace. hope. Joy. Love. Promise of Heaven. We can surrender. WE can rest in all the work being finished. He didn't just wipe away our billions of dollars in debt but applied billions to our account. We can never be out-graced. His grace is always enough. always covering. Always sufficient. His perfect righteousness is applied to US! As if we always obeyed, were always loving, were always perfect parents, children, siblings, friends. Amazing!

Friends, I don't know if you bank account is full or empty or in the negative. I don't know if your health is robust or floundering. I don't know if you're barren or overwhelmed by your number of children. I don't know if you hate your job or can't get a job. If you're married and frustrated or single and frustrated. If you're crazy rich or poor. 

But we are blessed, each of us, if we have Christ. If we call Him our greatest treasure, our prize. It doesn't always mean our situation, our circumstances, get fixed or altered. It doesn't mean that we will be prosperous financially and that only good things will come our way.... It means that we don't walk alone! It means that He will be there and sustain us in the midst of whatever we face. It means that He has promised to be faithful to us. He has made a covenant to us. Do not be afraid! Don't fear poverty. don't fear death. Don't fear illness. Don't fear loneliness or brokenness or messiness. He loves us! He accepts us! He calls us His own! He doesn't see failures. He sees His perfects Son's life, death, and resurrection- He is pleased with us because we're in Christ! He is pleased with us! He sings over us! He rejoices for us, in us, and with us!

Christmas can be a wonderful time. It can be sweet and romantic and happy and giddy and magical. It can also be painful, lonely, sad, depressing, creating anxiety and fear and being overwhelmed or low at your inability to create the Christmas you want. I'm asking that you see Jesus. See Jesus in your pain. See Jesus in your joy. Rejoice a Savior was born for you and me! We don't walk alone. We are not in this alone. 

In all things He is there. That is our Hope. That is my hope. and I hope it's your hope too.

So maybe I'm giving up Christmas to find it. Maybe I'm losing my expectations to find Jesus' expectations. My pockets are pretty empty but my heart demands to be generous to others. And so I will give... in whatever ways I can... with whatever ability I have. I'm not holding back. When I have the least to give is when I find I often have the most to give. I see God more clearly. I see His faithfulness for what it is.. daily, repeatedly, consistently. I'm aware of Him instead of aware of the way I meet my needs or fix my problems. He is my all in All. He is enough. 

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel has come to YOU!

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