Looking towards the Christmas season, I’m reminded of all of the pressure for creating the perfect Christmas. Feeling it? It’s even harder when life issues pull our attention away from the season. Been there? Well this year, I’m there. Circumstances are something we can’t control in many cases. Makes me think of the Boundaries book (Townsend and Cloud) where we learn that we have to differentiate between what is in our control and what is not. Acceptance of our lack of control is most of the battle. I need to find the joy of Christmas in spite of what I can’t control.
When dealing with such issues, what am I to do? I want to turn to the Lord, but there are times I find myself not able to pray, or at least pray effectively. I’m so thankful for the promise of the Holy Spirit to make groans for me on my behalf. “Wordless groans” sounds like the right choice over words anyway.
“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.”
Love between us humans on earth can seem to be very conditional, but fortunately, God doesn’t work with that system. Sometimes, I need to remind myself that God’s love for me isn’t conditional. It is always there for me, even when I don’t acknowledge it. Having his love doesn’t give me an easy life, erase problems, or remove grief most times, but he promises to walk with me through it. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like he’s there, but if I trust his promises, I must trust he is there even when I don’t feel his presence.
Speaking of feelings, they can be deceiving. In the past I’ve called them “indicators” not “dictators.” Or at least that is the way we should look at them. They shouldn’t rule our lives, but we should take note to what they may be showing us (what they are indicating), then evaluate if they are based in right thinking or sinful rebellion.
So how should we move forward when those valleys come? One day at a time, one hour at a time, one foot in front of the other, accept godly counsel. Set aside the worldly pressures and expectations in order to focus on the expectations God gives us. His leadership is crucial to move in the right direction. Recently I heard someone saying that if we give Jesus the lordship of our lives and let him make our decisions and show us direction, then the consequences are his responsibility. I need more of that. The key is getting my will to step out of the way (which may include getting my mouth to stay shut!).
My plan is to be in the Word more than I’ve been in the past. But to focus on depth, not quantity; to take one “bite” at a time and slowly digest it, making it part of who I am. That’s my step one. He’ll need to lead from there.
So with Christmas coming in days, remember along with me. The reason for the season is not dictated by our surrounding society. It should be dictated by the One whose birthday we celebrate. Take off all of those worldly pressures and curl up in his lap. Allow yourself to be loved. Spend some time remembering what unconditional love is and soak it in. Maybe we’ll be able to show it well if we can learn to receive it well.
Blessings, and prayers that this Christmas you may experience the greatest gift of unconditional love that was given that night long ago in Bethlehem. I pray you receive it, and then give it.