Sunday, December 19, 2010

Guest Post: On Holidays

My dear friend Nikki, who works with Women of Faith, wrote this recently and I wanted to share it with everyone. I hope it inspires and encourages each of you as it did me:

As this Christmas season is coming upon us quickly, I am reminded of what joy we've had this year. Of course I am primarily referencing the addition of Gavin to our family, but we have shared other joys as well.
We've also had dear losses. Holidays, for me anyway, have a way of daring my weak mind to harmonize both the joy and the loss. I reflect on both, I am overwhelmed by both. It is interesting to me that in recent years my studies in The Word often have me in the Old Testament in the months surrounding and especially preceding Christmas. This causes me to think more clearly about the advent of the Messiah into the world, and exactly what it meant to an anticipating, agonizing, ailing Israel.
We have so much in common. Like Israel, we too live in dark days. We are faced with life, each moment of it, and while some moments are glorious, some are torturous. We face wars, chronic ailments, terminal diseases, Cancer, widows, orphans, betrayals, infertility, poverty, loss, children starving, AIDS, Alzheimer’s: stealing a mind long before it has the dignity to steal the body, unemployment, and the list could go on and on and on. These things are big, and in some of our lives, these things are HUGE. We, like Israel, wait in anticipation of rescue, of redemption from our fallen, corrupt selves, and this fallen corrupt place that we have created.

However, unlike most of Old Testament Israel, we have the profound honor and privilege to look back on the advent of Jesus into the world. We can see His life through the Word, and it was exemplary.

We see His death; it was sacrificial atonement.

We see His resurrection; it was power.

Remember, this portion of His journey started as a baby, God with us.

At times, when reading through the Old Testament, especially in the prophets, there is such agony in their message. There was such longing for the awaited Messiah to come, and for Him to make things right. As I read, I want to tell them personally, "Just hang on! He is coming! He is coming. He's going to do what He said; He's going to make this right for His people." Thus the benefit of hindsight: I know the ending of their story. So, I wonder if on times when we face our darkest days, is not the cloud of witnesses chanting the same thing for us. "Hang on. You've come too far to give up now. Trust Him! He's going to make this right, He's justice, and He's love."

We know that He is Emmanuel, God with us, God with Me. Things on our lowly planet will never be right until Jesus is enthroned on it. But we have Emmanuel, God in us through the person of the Holy Spirit. I am never alone. I am never defenseless. Sorrow may endure for the night, but His joy comes in the morning. We must not be defeated by these periodic dark days. Remember that what we are seeing is as "through a glass darkly", but will soon "see face to face".  
These are but momentary, light afflictions to be born for the cause of Jesus Christ, to conform us to His image, and to decrease ourselves in our own eyes. May He ever increase. God alone knows what He has asked each of us to bear, but we must do it. We must lean hard into our Savior, even as our knees buckle at times beneath the heaviness. Know that your suffering is not in vain, but has huge ramifications in kingdom life, and is working for God's glory and for your good.

Every night when I tuck Gavin in, I always whisper, "Mommy loves you, but God loves you more." I know without a shadow of a doubt that this is true. Gavin has no idea what that means, but someday he will. I want him to grow up understanding that God has his best interest at heart, and no one will ever love him or be as faithful to him as his Heavenly Father.

Finally, I leave you with this:

(Fill in your own blank) ____________ loves me, but God loves me more.

And He does. As you reflect on the year, and anticipate the year to come, may you truly know that you are loved, you are not forsaken, and that He has your best interest at heart.  
Emmanuel, God with you.

- Nikki 

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