Advent: Who or what is overshadowing you this Christmas?

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Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.…Luke 1:34,35

So the question remains: Who or what is overshadowing you this Christmas? Have you made way for the Holy Spirit, believing like Mary that God can overshadow your circumstances whatever they are? Are you willing to partner up with God and create a miracle, even in the midst of an ordinary life?

This Advent as in all others, I go back to those supernatural events that happened, and I marvel and wonder right along with Mary. When you think about it, what happened to Mary is what happens to all of us when we become believers. We step out in faith even though we aren’t sure how it’s all gonna work, we know somehow that God will pull it off.

And that is the hope and reality of what Christmas is, that against the dark backdrop of our lives God came in the flesh to flip the switch on the light that no man or circumstance has the power to snuff out.

Too much of my year has been spent in doubt and uncertainty and fear. Too many times I have failed to remember what a Big God I serve. I have forgotten that God has taken up residence in my own temple of this body. In light of that, what event in life could ever eclipse that Light? Thankfully, He knows how weak I am and loves me anyway. Each day I am bowled over by His incredible mercy.

Yesterday morning, the events of the past few weeks finally caught up with me and I had a bit of an insane moment. My Mom falling while I was there and then having Elaine’s Mom die while I was away and knowing she had to deal with that alone, and then being afraid my Mom would fall again or further injure that arm culminated in me attempting to sing all four parts of Handel’s Messiah on my morning commute.

If I had a video of it, it would have gone viral, I am sure. I proceeded to butcher all four parts and screech my way through the Christmas portion. And it was done in love because I have had a passion for that piece of music ever since I can remember.

By the Hallelujah chorus (when the audience traditionally and appropriately stands to its feet) I was in tears.

I was thinking about how the night before I had watched 20/20 and they showed footage of how Isis had gone into these Christian towns and torn down the crosses. I saw the statues topple and the churches desecrated and the Bibles blackened and it sickened me, but then as I listened to the music, I got another vision. That of Christ coming in the clouds.

The first time He came in the weakest, most vulnerable form possible. He died the same way, but He arose victorious and with power. He will come back the same way. And though Mary had to deal with the sorrow of losing her son, she also saw His victory in the end.

And the victory belongs to us all…….and nothing and no one in this life has the power to dim that great hope. Not even death or taxes.

Death has been swallowed up in victory for one more year……….

 

Lent Day #14: The Struggle (when you start to doubt your sanity)

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Up until now it’s been a process of emptying myself out so words could come in. Somehow it has been easy for me to believe that God would supply the word manna for each day. But today, it all changed. The struggle has been a deeper one. My mind has refused to quiet down.

I have been in and out of the shop several times today off and on. I took the tea-pot out there and consumed 3 mugs of Tazo Zen tea, along with the doves and the wind chimes you would think my mind would calm right down but it was wound tighter than an eight-day clock.

All the conditions seemed to be right…..it was a nice drizzly day and I started with quiet time this morning and that was just fine. But a significant piece was missing that hasn’t been before. Doubt and fear kicked in simultaneously. I think it was mostly fear. That was what ultimately paralyzed me. That I was foolish for trying this.

I mentioned this to Elaine, my faithful sounding board this evening and she said, “Why can’t those be the words, what you just said.” She has faith like a child, beautiful in its simplicity. After all, that’s what Jesus valued isn’t it? I love that she believes in me, in this.

And my Dad too, when I mentioned my Lent writing journey to him yesterday, was so excited and on board. What a blessing it is to have support, even when you doubt your own sanity. After all, that’s what keeps us all on track isn’t it? When someone gives verbal assent to your own inner assurance, it bolsters you in a way that nothing else can. It gives you that little nudge that says, “It’s okay, it may not always be easy but it’s right and we are behind you all the way.”

So this is my lesson today, that some days it will be a struggle. We lift our eyes to Jesus out there on the water and we forget our fear, all we can see is His face, His voice saying, “Come on, you can do it.” We plunge in enthusiastically like Peter, then we look down and realize we are actually walking on water and panic, then we sink. But thankfully, He is always there to pull us up.

Peter said to him in reply, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw how [strong] the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”  Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”  Matthew 14:22

Photo: http://i.huffpost.com/…/322416/slide_322416_3042121_free.jpg

Assurance about what we don’t (yet) see

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Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. Hebrews 11:1-3

 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6

I can’t think of a better way to bring in the New Year than sitting on this shore watching the New Year roll in along with the tide, but since I can’t I thought I would post this pic and visualize myself there anyway. Yet, sitting here gazing at the lights on the tree that will soon be packed away, I am sipping coffee still snug in my big robe and I find that ain’t too shabby either. There is much to be thankful for.

As I drifted off to sleep last night, I can’t say that I felt all that hopeful about 2014. In the immediate, I will be going back to work on Thursday, and work right now is very stressful. I’d just as soon not go back. As I don’t have that luxury, I will continue to trust God to get me in the door each day. He’s never failed me yet.

It’s easy to get bogged down with unknowns, but thankfully, the knowns and what I know about God far outnumber the unknowns.

For that reason alone, this New Year rings with hope for me. I found myself surprised by joy this morning. I am rich with a heritage of belief in a God that holds me and all those I hold dear close.

God surprises me with His love again and again. No matter how many times I failed myself, others and Him last year, He reminded me this morning that His love for me has no end, it is infinite and unconditional and reaches past eternity.

On the edge of this world is another one shimmering in the light, where He is. That is where all our hope lies. That’s our future, and we carry it with us even now.

There is no room for fear in that kind of hope. It goes along with my new phrase for the year which is:

Faith over Fear.

As I prepare to enjoy this day, Lord. Thank you, thank you, thank you for being here with me, with us. I can’t imagine a better way to start the New Year.

As I sit here teary eyed watching the Rose Parade, I remember the year we got to go work on the floats with Home Depot. It was an unbelievable experience to see those huge floats up close. I will never forget it, and now each year I find myself crying when I watch, remembering how beautiful those floats, those flowers were.

As the Marine Marching Band plays, I cry again. I still love my country, despite all I am unhappy with in the current administration. Yes, I am bowled over with the beauty of the world. Amidst the backdrop of so much heartache and strife on the news, there is so much good.

Happy New Year world……Keep looking up, for our redemption draws nigh!

As for me, I am hoping for what I can’t yet fully see. God is working behind the scenes for our good, always. That’s always reason to hope.