Monday, December 10, 2012

The Disappointment of Christmas

Christmas is hard for so many people. It has been really hard for me for many years. But only because my expectations have been misplaced. I have bought into the lie of what Christmas is really about.

Christmas was not easy for Mary either. In a short period of time, she went from being a pure, innocent young bride to being spat upon, leered at and judged by almost everyone around her. All as a result of the will of God.

Sometimes I'm jealous of other moms who's kids come home for Christmas. It's such a joyful time of reunion. But not all of us get to experience that. That's one reason Christmas is such a difficult season for many. But, as my devotional today says, Christmas is not about me. It's not even about family. I don't live in a Hallmark movie!

Mary didn't get to experience warm fuzzies on Christmas either. I think we have added that expectation and, for most of us, Christmas falls short of it. Christmas is not about the warm fuzzies of home, family and gifts.

Christmas is about the invasion of light into the darkness of planet earth! It's about an interruption of our normal lives. It's about giving up our shallow, selfish hopes and dreams in exchange for God's bigger, deeper plan.

Am I willing, as Mary was, to give up my reputation, my dreams, my plans for God's bigger plan? Even if it means facing judgement, rejection and grief? Am I? Are you?

If we could see what God is doing, if we really understood and valued what Jesus did by coming to earth, if we could see the movement in the spirit realm... if our expectation for Christmas was properly placed, we would toss our shallow, selfish dreams aside so fast. Christmas would never again disappoint us!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Advent

We are in the season of Advent. My daughter and I started an advent devotional on YouVersion this week. We are learning that Advent is about waiting... it's about faith... it's about hope (my favorite subject.)

Elizabeth (my daughter's middle name) and Zachariah had longed for a child for so long, all hope was gone. But even well past the years of child bearing, I'm sure Elizabeth's arms ached for a child or even grandchildren of her own. I imagine her pleading with God in her younger years... maybe even into her 50s where I am now. (Makes me even more grateful for my 5-year-old who fills my arms every morning!) But God remained silent and no baby came. For decades she prayed. Still her arms were empty.

But did she blame God? Was she angry with him? Did she reject faith? While I'm sure she had her dark moments, the answer is no. She continued to trust God. Zachariah continued to serve Him in his priestly capacity. Until one day when all hope was gone, after 400 years of silence, God spoke. FOUR HUNDRED YEARS, folks. 400! This was about so much more than Elizabeth's aching arms. But, at last, she was blessed with her miracle child and the earth was blessed with the first prophet since Malachi.

Four hundred years is nothing to God. Though we may be tempted to lose hope in a much shorter time, we need to remember that God is still moving. Though we can't see Him, and though He may be silent, He has not left us. He has not taken his eyes off of us. He has heard our prayers. He has seen our tears. In fact, He cherishes them. He will show up--right on time.

I'm waiting--no where near 400 years. But if I need to wait that long, may I do it in faith and in hope... unswerving hope.

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