Waiting

The wait is over.  Today is the day after Christmas and all of the excitement and anticipation that has been building for the last few weeks has been assuaged.  Presents have been opened, dinners consumed, and company enjoyed.  We worshiped together as church families, as family units, and as individuals to celebrate the birth of God coming to earth in the form of a baby boy named Jesus.  Our hearts are filled with joy and hope.  It has been a good Christmas.  The blessings have been many and we are filled with gratitude.  We are also thankful the waiting is over.

Yet, the waiting continues.  Yes, the anticipation of celebrating Christ’s first coming is over, but we continue to wait with eager expectation for His second coming.  That time when the trumpet sounds and we see him coming on the clouds of glory.  That time when we will be gathered up into His presence, all separations will be removed, and we will see Him face to face.  That time where there will be no more tears, no more sorrow.  That time when time itself no longer matters – only eternity in His presence.  Oh, how I long for that time…..but I have to wait.

Many, if not most of us, do not like that “four letter” word – wait.  We live in a culture of almost instant gratification.  Waiting in line at the bank or waiting in a traffic jam can annoy us greatly, but they don’t begin to compare to the frustrations of waiting for the really important stuff:  the healing of a loved one, family members to come to salvation, restoration of broken relationships, wisdom for which college or job offer to take, financial security, peace among nations, and the list goes on and on.  I think it’s safe to say, we are all waiting for something and it’s not always pleasant.

Giving up control of our lives and trusting God to work out His plan is one of the more difficult things we are asked to do.  I find it particularly difficult to let go of being sure my family is happy, healthy, and following God’s plan for them.  Fortunately, God keeps reminding me again and again, that He’s got them covered.  He loves them more than I do.  His grace is sufficient for them.  His plan will prosper them and not harm them, give them hope and a future.  So I find myself coming back to the cross time after time to place each of them God’s arms….. and then I wait.  In that time of waiting I discover anew the scope of God’s grace and mercy.  As I choose to wait, the Holy Spirit fills me with hope, faith, trust and peace.  I wish I could tell you that I have learned my lesson about the value and importance of waiting on God, but I continue to have to learn the blessings of letting go, trusting, and waiting.  In the process of waiting I discover another gift of grace: waiting and trusting draws me closer to the presence of my Abba – and that is glorious place to wait.  Come, my friend, join me as we wait together.

But as we wait, we need to ask ourselves a question, “What are we going to do while we wait?” Certainly there is an aspect to waiting that is about complete stillness, rest and calm.  On the other hand there is a responsibility we have as we wait:  to be obedient to God’s call on our lives.  Jesus’ last words to us were, “Go into all the world…”  Just as Jesus realized at an early age what He must do, we need to be about our Father’s business – the business of spreading the good news of salvation through Christ’s atoning sacrifice.  We get to be His ministers of reconciliation helping people to be restored into a right relationship with God as they experience the forgiveness of sins.  We are His ambassadors, speaking on behalf of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, helping people find the Light of the World in a dark, broken society.  We get to be His righteousness, bringing mercy and justice to the oppressed and hopeless.  Oh, yes, there is much to do while we wait.  Perhaps as you consider the new year that will begin soon, you can take time to think about what God is calling you to do.  Then as you go to the cross with your anxiety, concerns and worries and give them to God trusting Him to handle them, you will be free wait for His return when all will be made new and you will be free to be an important part of bringing His kingdom now.

Happy New Year, dear reader!    May these words of 2 Corinthians 5:18-21 inspire you to be about His business as you wait for His coming.   “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them.  And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.  We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors as though God were making his appeal through us.  We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.  God made him who had no sin to be sin for us so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”  I pray this year be filled with many opportunities to be a blessing to others and bring glory to God.  I can barely wait to see what He is going to do.  🙂

 

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Three Gifts

If you are like most people, you are in the throes of Christmas preparations:  shopping, cleaning, baking, decorating, wrapping, attending parties and programs.  It can be a hectic, even stressful time of year for everyone except for the business owners who are delighting in the customers crowding their stores, eager to part with hard-earned cash as they look for the perfect present for a loved one. It must feel like paradise for those who love to shop, too.  I must confess that I am NOT one of those people.  I really hate shopping!  I would rather have a root-canal without Novocain.  I find it so stressful because I do not have the gift of “gift giving.”  There are those who are able to find that perfect gift that delights your heart.  I’m more likely to take home a chia pet than the perfect gift.  It causes me so much angst that I can break out into a rash whenever I enter a mall.

My dear husband was the exact opposite.  He had the ability to choose a gift that was meaningful, thoughtful, and selected just for me.  How I cherish those gifts now that he is gone.  As wonderful as David was at choosing the perfect gift, there is One who continues to shower me with gifts that are even more precious, more perfect than David’s gifts – my Abba.  During these last three months I have been struggling to adjust to a new stage of grief and my Abba has lavished His love on me through three gifts.  They are actually three words that have encouraged, comforted, and strengthened me.  I have been thinking about what gift I could offer you, dear reader, and have decided to give to you the three words my Abba gave me.   I pray that they will be “just the right gift” to encourage and bless you this Christmas season.  The three gifts are these words:  relinquish, commit, and trust.

Relinquish:  As wonderful as the holidays are, they can be reminders that our life is not what we had hoped it would be.  Feelings of worry, anxiety, doubt, fear, guilt, shame, anger, despair, grief, unforgiving spirit, and loneliness can overshadow the joy of the season.  I pray that you will be so close to the heart of God that you will experience the blessing of relinquishing anything that is burdening you.  How the evil one longs to overwhelm us with weighty burdens and a heavy heart.  Because we all struggle with our natural, sinful selves, we too eagerly accept these feelings and miss God’s gifts of hope, joy, peace, love, mercy, and so much more.  My prayer for you is that you will be able to relinquish anything that is robbing you of God’s gifts of grace and place it in God’s hands.  He is big enough to take care of our problems, hurts, and confusion.  “Cast all your anxieties on Him because He cares for you.”  (1 Peter 5:7)   This Christmas, enjoy the gift of freedom as you chose to relinquish.

Commit:  A second gift I would like to give you is the gift of choosing to commit.   This choice takes us beyond relinquishment to the action of commitment to submitting to God’s will and obeying His commands.  We commit to fighting the temptation to revert back to trying to handle situations ourselves without seeking God’s guidance.  We commit to putting our lives, the lives of our loved ones, our marriages, our jobs, and even our futures in God’s capable hands.  We commit to persevere through the suffering, holding onto God as tightly as we can.  It is then, and only then, that we can experience hope and this hope will not disappointment us.  “We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And this hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.”  (Romans 5:3-5) This hope is what I wish for you this Christmas as you choose to commit.

Trust:  The last word I give you is “trust.”  Once you have relinquished that which burdens you and have chosen to commit to submit and obey God, I encourage you to open your arms wide and receive the gift of trust.  I pray that you will be able to trust that God loves you and the ones you love with a depth and intensity that is beyond our ability to comprehend.  I pray that you will trust that God’s grace is more than sufficient for whatever you need; trust that His will is perfect and just; trust that He will be faithful to His promises; trust that joy will come in the morning; trust that Jesus’ blood was enough to provide complete forgiveness for all your sins.  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)  As you trust and lean on Him, I pray that His peace will fill your life as you celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace.

I sincerely hope that you will enjoy your three gifts and that you will share them with others.  Have a very blessed Christmas.