Jesus speaking: ‘The thief approaches with malicious intent, looking to steal, slaughter, and destroy; I came to give life with joy and abundance’–John 10:10.
I’m not sorry to say goodbye to 2014. The last few years have seen a plethora of difficulties and life-altering events. A friend of ours once told me that he believed I must be in God’s ‘special forces.’ He noted that I tended to do spiritual search-and-rescue missions for people’s souls and spirits. And I don’t give up. In some ways, he may be right. I don’t fear hell on any of the levels I’ve experienced in my own life or the lives of others. Oh, I ache, throw temper-tantrums, and have tremendous unbelief that I won’t heal from some of the falls I’ve taken; but I’m not afraid of what I may face in helping people see healing is possible for their hearts’ devastations. I’ve seen depths of hell I know God never intended us to see. But, in my own life and the lives of others, I’ve always had the confidence that God will show the way out of the maze to His light.
But, this year, I got bogged down in hell and lost my perspective of the abundant life Jesus promises us. I became too comfortable living in the darkness searching for lost ones to embrace back into God’s presence. And no one could find me … or maybe more truthfully–I wouldn’t let anyone know I couldn’t find my way out this time. I’ve got the heart of a warrior when it comes to expressing who we are to God, and I go to great lengths to try and communicate God’s favor to all people. When I think ‘church people’ are too theologically-focussed that they have begun bullying certain types of people, I want to go to war.
… And fight to the death.
… Because I know it won’t be my death….
I’m learning that God can fight His own battles quite successfully and with significantly fewer casualties. A gentle word … a kind act … is all I need to offer the war-effort. No one can stand against those weapons. And yet, no one’s spirit is crushed by them either.
So, as I reflect on 2014, I see how I viewed some of my brothers and sisters in Christ as an enemy whom I needed to destroy. Living in the dark places with others will give that perspective. I need to let Christ’s light shine on me again. I need to live Christmas throughout the year.
What does that mean?
Christmas reminds us to look at the world as children–with awe, wonder, hope and expectancy. I crave the world of childhood’s dreams, possibilities and unbridled joy. Jesus’ birth created quite the stir; but then, Mary and Joseph had to get on with the mundane years of child-rearing. No stars, no shepherds worshipping, no wise men giving gifts every year, no angels harking and heralding. Just dirty diapers, skinned knees, colds and flus, temper tantrums. (Seriously, do you think Jesus never threw a temper tantrum at age 3 or 4?) And yet, in the mundane living, the promise remained. In Luke 2, we are told that Mary pondered and treasured all the memories of Jesus’ birth. I want to ponder and treasure all the memories I have of God’s presence–even when life is dull.
So for 2015, I want God to restore joy. I want to gasp in awe at life, even if no angelic choir visits me. I hope for a bright future, even if it takes years to grow up in me. I choose to live expectantly, even if I continue to journey through the hellish mazes of people’s lives to offer healing and rest for their weary spirits. I will remember to lift my eyes up more and let the warmth of Christ’s gaze envelop me, giving me strength and confidence to fight our real enemies of injustice, oppression, poverty–enemies that silence voices and create impossible standards and expectations of living.
May we all experience the joyous abundance of Christ’s presence in our lives in 2015!
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