Friday, December 27, 2013

It's Not All About the Anticipation

Reading: James 1:17--"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."


I always get a kick out of hearing about how people prepare for the Christmas season. It seems that more and more are following suit of the department stores and are decorating their homes earlier and earlier in the calendar year. Then, by the evening of the 25th of December, they're beginning to get the itch to restore their homes to pre-holiday d├ęcor. Many trees head out the door or back into the box on December 26--the day is over and the anticipation is over. Time to get back to the day-to-day.


This reminds me of how we pretty much handle any important events in our lives. Remember proms from high school?  Graduations? Birthday parties? In retrospect, it seems that the anticipation gets more of our attention and energy than the event itself. In fact, when the event does arrive, we have already grown weary of the whole thing. Isn't that silly of us?


Christmas is not just about all the anticipation, although that anticipation has a name--Advent. It is a beautiful season in and of itself. And, after Christmas, we have the next wondrous season leading up to Epiphany--the momentous time when the three Wise Men found the Christ Child and worshipped him as King of Kings.


So, remember...Christmas isn't necessarily over at the stroke of midnight on the 25th of December. It's also not a single season in and of itself. There's so much more to enjoy--and yes, anticipate. The greatest beauty of the season is the unchanging gift of perfect love that we are all given with the birth of this wondrous child. Happy Advent, Merry Christmas, Happy Epiphany.


Peace be with you.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Nice Little Projects, After All

Readings: Job 34:19--"...who shows no partiality to princes, nor regards the rich more than the poor, for they are all the work of his hands."

Psalm 136:26--"Give thanks to the God of heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever."

I decided to plug in my sewing machine and make a few Christmas gifts this year. About mid-way through the first project, I began to wonder why I did so. As I put the finishing touches on the gift, I started seeing every little flaw that I had created along the process. Doubt began to take over whenever I would work on or look at the project. Why didn't I just buy something instead of trying to make something? One day a friend came along and I showed the project to her. Her response was much different than I expected. She was honestly impressed with my handiwork. She, without giving false flattery, told me how much she knew the recipient would enjoy the personalized gift. Later that evening, I once again picked up the project and looked at it. This time however, I looked at it with eyes of appreciation rather than eyes of skepticism. Instead of seeing every slight error I had ruminated on earlier, I now saw a much neater version of the project where I painstakingly removed a row of stitching and carefully replaced it to make it look nicer or re-trimmed a spot here or there to neaten everything up. It turned out to be a nice little project, after all.

When we're feeling extra critical about ourselves, our neighbors, or our surroundings, we need to remember that we are, after all, created in God's image. The human part of us that is limited in scope, tends to want to zero in on the flaws. How much better to look through the spirit of God's infinite love and see just how blessed and divide we and everything around us is created. We've all turned out, after all, to be nice little projects, too!

Peace be with you.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Not My, But Thy Will Be Done

Reading: Matthew 6:9-10 "This, then, is how you should pray--"Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name; your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."

As I write this morning, one of my brothers is in surgery for a heart catheterization, and another friend in is in the middle of a dialysis session suffering with a severe headache. The roads are still a mess from the ice and snow that came piling in late last week. My mom's telephone is still out. Wouldn't it be easy to just say, "God--fix all this. Make it better"?

That's just not the way it works; and, as I grown older, I'm actually glad that it doesn't work that way. Why, you ask? Why not just get things put back into the order we want?

I have found that our ideas of "fixing" things are highly limited. We are finite creatures with finite thinking. God's way is always better--more thought out and, of course, perfect. He is infinite. If I want my brother's heart catheterization to be "fixed", my way of thinking would be one of ignorance in that area. I'm not a cardiac physician--I have no idea of all of the intricacies of this type of procedure. Similarly, if I think I could "fix" my dear friend's dialysis session so she feels better, it would be fleeting at best. I'm not a nephrologist--I know very little about how the kidneys work (or don't work). Add to this list my lack of knowledge of how to best deal with icy highways or malfunctioning phone lines. It makes me very humble and full of gratitude that God is in control.

Will my brother's procedure turn out as I would like? I don't know that. But I do know that whatever happens, it truly is in God's loving hands. Will my friend's kidneys ever function again on their own? I don't know that answer, either. But once again, there are no better hands in which she can be than God's. The good Lord will watch over our roadways, and my mom's phone will be repaired in good order.  In the meantime, He has blessed us with capable workers in each of these areas as well as surrounding us with good people who work hard to fill in the momentary gaps.

As difficult as it is for us, once we learn to pray not my, but God's will be done, life does become far more comforting and pleasant. The relief that all is not up to us and our limited skills, knowledge, and means to keep things going is a blessing indeed.

Peace be with you.