We often speak of deeper things via email so that we can linger long over ideas, drawing them more fully into ourselves before we respond.
I feel that after so many years of following Jesus that I should have made more progress, that I should be more like Him, think more like Him, speak more like Him. Yet I still struggle every moment to obey, to control my temper, to love others.
Me too, Dad. Me too.
My heart feels heavy when I look at any given week and how much I have failed my husband, my daughters, my God.
I want so desperately to be like Jesus, to have love be my first response in any situation, to be grateful for everything that comes my way.
Yet day after day I lose my temper, I choose my own desires over the needs of those around me,
I forget to walk with God.
Have I made any progress at all? It certainly doesn’t feel like it.
Will I trust what He says more than what my physical eyes can see? Will I trust the Word even when contrary evidence seems to mount up higher?
…. it is certain that the Christian does grow in grace. And though his conflict may be as severe in the last day of his life as in the first moment of conversion, yet he does advance in grace — and all his imperfections and his conflicts within cannot prove that he has not made progress. ~ Charles Spurgeon
As in so much of this walk with God, will I choose to trust His promises or my own imperfect judgement?
May we all push aside the guilt that we pour down on our own heads and say with the 17th century monk, Brother Lawrence,
When he had failed in his duty, he only confessed his fault saying to God, “I shall never do otherwise, if you leave me to myself. It is You who must hinder my failing and mend what is amiss.” Then, after this, he gave himself no further uneasiness about it. ~ Practicing the Presence of God
May we all trust God that much and give ourselves no further uneasiness about it.
These feel like frightening times. The world at large keeps crashing into my small frame of reference.
It doesn’t feel as though I can do anything against the hatred, fear, and violence that keeps cropping up all around us.
Part of my helpless feeling comes from my own world currently being very small.
My days revolve around nursing babies, napping toddlers, and newly-become elementary students.
What I have to give, what I have to offer to stem this dark tide is small.
Our season in life leaves little room for discretionary income and time.
I wonder if anything I do makes much difference.
In this season of Advent, this season of preparing ourselves for the biggest Gift of all, the gifts that I bring to our God, to our world, seem insignificant, tiny.
Leaving my own book to read one more story aloud? Trifling.
Baking cookies to give to our neighbors? Inconsequential.
Giving up a meal out to purchase toys for a toy drive? Insufficient.
Yet as I read still another version of the Christmas Story to my girls I am reminded that an act does not have to be big to be sacred.
Small acts of kindness to those I know, small smiles and gentle words in passing to those who seem different from us, small gifts to strangers are all as sacred and beautiful as the act of preaching to thousands.
You don’t have to have endless resources to be able to change the world. You don’t have to accomplish something enormous to let a glimpse of light in to the darkness.
After all, what is Advent but the remembrance that it was the smallest, most fragile gift of all that was sacred enough to change our world forever.
The cool, crisp air striking your skin, the blazing bonfire scent filling you up with every breath, the crunch of leaves underfoot. Most of all, the leaves. The dazzling display of fiery colors that fill your sight in every direction.
Those radiant colors that inspire poetry and art are, I recently discovered (or perhaps rediscovered as I feel sure I probably learned this at one time during my elementary school career), actually the true colors of the leaves. The green that we see for most of the year, the green that fills up our springtime and summer, is just the tree-feeding chlorophyll covering up the brightness. It is not until the tree is no longer making food, not until the leaves are beginning to die, that their true colors blaze out.
I want that.
Oh, how I desperately want that.
As I age, as my body moves closer to death, I want for the colors of this life to begin to fade away and the colors of Jesus in me to blaze out.
From the moment we choose life in Jesus, we are changing.
Little by little, day by day, the green of this world starts to fade.
Little by little, choice by choice, the light of the life to come begins to shine.
The older I become, the more I want people to look at me and see Jesus. I want the colors of me, the colors of my natural self, to fade away. I want the brilliance of Jesus to take over.
At the end of my life, my body will be bent and wrinkled, dry and withered. My prayer is that by then my own self will be so one with Christ that when people look into my eyes, they are taken aback with the dazzling display of Jesus that fills their sight.
What are some of the lessons that Mother Nature is teaching you about our common Creator? She speaks loudly if we will only listen.
For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. ~ Romans 1.20
How do you endure? When everything around you is falling apart, when all that you love on this earth fails you, how do you keep going?
It happens to all of us. At some point in our lives, whether early in life or late, we sit in stunned silence while our world crumbles.
What do we do? What do we do when we or one we love is living in the middle of unimaginable pain? What is it that keeps us going, that lets us perservere?
It changes nothing. It changes everything.
Hope doesn’t heal the sick or take away the pain. It doesn’t fill the stomach or bring your loved one back.
It changes nothing.
Hope gives you a glory-full vision of the end of your story. It gives you a glimpse of the beauty, the joy, the perfection that is promised.
It changes everything.
When you know the end of the story, when you know that Christ wins and that we will be with Him forever, it gives us the power to bear anything. Anything. When you can see the end of fear, the end of despair, the end of pain, when you can see the adventure, the rest, the wholeness that waits for you, you are sustained in the now because you know that this, too, shall pass.
So hope. Hope in what is promised. Hope in what God has promised through the power of the resurrected Christ.
For you who have just received that 3 a.m. phone call, you who walk dazed from your doctor’s office, you who saw your child drift away, you who wish desperately for a child, you who sit weeping in a corner, who think that you will always be alone and unloved, for all of you who live in darkness and doubt…
there is hope. Beautiful, glorious, resurrection hope. So breathe deep of this hope. Let it fill you up with peace and joy so that you are able to endure all things. For He who is our hope is coming.