Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The most beautiful gift

The speaker for a Women's Event at my Church over the weekend is a local counselor and gave some tips about how to get through this time of the year with all the joy and sadness that comes with it.  I must admit that it was a quite timely message for me. (this post will catch you up) Perhaps my favorite thing that this counselor said was something to effect of:

"I'm giving you permission to not get everything on your to-do list (this month) done".

Do you know how freeing that is?  In a month that brings so many emotions and memories to my mind, and I'm sure many others, is also a month that has countless events, gatherings, concerts, etc...filling up our calendars.

Life isn't always beautiful.  And that's ok.  Life has moments of such beauty, like the joy in a child's face when experiencing Christmas for the first time.  Or new life that has come into the world.  And then there are moments when we have to say goodbye to a loved one too soon, or when tragic events happen around our world or neighborhood.

You know there is one thing that is truly beautiful and only one thing that is all of the time though.  And his name is:  Jesus.

He may have come to earth as a baby, but that's not how it ended.  The whole reason He came to earth was to save us from the path that only was leading to destruction and an eternity away from God.  Jesus humbled himself and came to earth to be born, live a somewhat normal human life (except for the fact that unlike the rest of us, He never sinned) and then even though He did nothing wrong He was forced to die on the cross.  (Phil 2:6-8)

A horrific, painful, awful death on the cross for the sins of the whole world.  But that's also not where the story ended either; Because on the third day He rose again.  And if you think about it, without the resurrection we wouldn't have Christmas.  Jesus' life, death and resurrection fulfilled prophesy and gave us a way to be able to be seen as sinless in the eyes of God, even though we did nothing to deserve it.

We couldn't have done anything to win favor with God.  We couldn't just be the best people we could be.  Or give the Church the most money, or serve the poor the best.  No, there was nothing, absolutely nothing we could do to earn our way into Heaven.  Jesus paid it all, and all to Him I owe.  Sin had left a crimson stain and He washed it white as snow.  (Rom 3:23, 6:23, John 3:16, Eph. 2:8-9)

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.  Eph. 2:8-9

That, my friend, that gift of salvation from Jesus Christ himself is:  beautiful.  It's beautiful in a scarred, and so full of love way.  So why on earth do we think that we would make it outta this world without a few scars of our own?  If Jesus, who is God and lived a perfect life, couldn't?

Scars may not be pretty in the beginning when they are painful and fresh, but then they heal to show that we made it through.  We healed.  We are changed.  And with God's help, we can make it through just about everything.

So take a few moments to really evaluate how you are doing this month.  You don't have to do this life alone.  So, How are you doing?  How are you grieving?  What are you looking forward to?  What are you dreading?  What are you going to do to help make it through?  Do you need to seek out help from a friend or family member or maybe even a professional to work through the tough stuff?  Do you need to sit down with a Pastor, or spiritual leader?  Do you need to sit with a friend, weep and pray together?  Do you need to say no to a few things on the list to be able to have some down time?  Do we need to make a decision about God, and take Him up on His free gift?

If we were sitting down to a cup of coffee, I would ask us to pray before you leave.  But since, we're not...and I'm here writing this and you are there reading it... I will write down a prayer for us:

Dear God, 

          Thank you so much of this season where we are reminded of your birth.  Thank you for the people you have placed in our lives, whether there are still with us or not.  We ask you give us guidance on how to better equip ourselves for the weeks that lie ahead and potential triggers of grief or sadness that may come.  
           We thank you so much for the gift of Jesus and that His story didn't end in the manger, or on the cross, but that it ended in a way that was just the beginning in his resurrection.  Thank you for giving us a way back to you, and hope for tomorrow.  We pray that you help us to find Joy in all of Jesus and not in things of this world.  We also pray that you help us to find friends or maybe even a counselor that we can talk to about the tough things going on in our lives.  

We ask these things in your holy name. Amen.

Disclaimer:  This is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional help.  This is also not inferring you stay somewhere or with someone who is physically hurting you.  This is to help us realize there are times we can speak with a friend or loved one about what's going on and there are other times we need professional help.  If you need help finding a professional in your area I would be happy to help get you in contact with someone.

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