Christmas Musings

Christmas is here. Looking at my life right now, though, you’d never know.

Maybe it was the 70 degree weather earlier this week or the complete lack of Christmas decorations in my house. Maybe it’s the chaos of transition, the nasty cold that hit me two weeks ago or the absence of freshly baked Christmas cookies in my kitchen.

Maybe it’s my busy-ness. I’ve been busy. So busy, in fact, that I’ve let the busy-ness of life drown out the joy that accompanies the Christmas season–the joy that comes with celebrating the birth of the One who came to redeem my sinful life.

You can hear Carrie Underwood belt “O Holy Night” and Michael Buble croon “Silent Night” in practically every shopping mall across America this time of year. That’s one of the things that I love (and hate at the same time) about Christmas: the Gospel is clearly proclaimed over and over wherever you go. Unfortunately, many, if not most of us choose not to take the time to really listen and absorb the rich, deep messages in these carols.

In church on Sunday, we sang a few songs that really made me think.

For example, in “O Holy Night,” we sing:

Long lay the world in sin and error pining
‘Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn

I just love how this verse so beautifully paints a picture of our life before Christ and after Christ.

Life without Christ is exhausting. Sin entangles us. Our worth is found in our talents, which fail us; our relationships, which fall apart and our own good works, which are never good enough. Our hearts yearn for something more.

Life with Christ, however, is freeing. Our worth is in Christ alone.

It isn’t until we are in a relationship with Christ that we discover our true worth. Our value isn’t found in our talents, relationship status or our own good doing, it’s in Christ, who will never fail us.

This discovery brings joy and hope. It brings new life.

In “Joy to the World,” we sing these words:

Joy to the world! The Lord is come
Let earth receive her King!
Let every heart prepare Him room
And heaven and nature sing

The phrase, “Let every heart prepare Him room” really convicts me.

How am I preparing room for Christ in my own heart? Honestly, I’ve been doing anything but! I keep stuffing my heart and life with more and more “stuff.” I’m not taking the daily time that I should to cleanse my heart by reading the Bible, communicating with my Savior and worshipping Him.

Even after we have new life, it’s so easy to slip back into our old mindsets and behaviors. We buy back into the lies of our worth, and we become weary yet again. So, we must combat that by intentionally preparing room in our hearts for our Savior. So, let’s do that by falling on our knees and worshipping Him. O come let us adore Him!

O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him
Christ the Lord

 

Jeremiah 29:11-13

“For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”
~Jeremiah 29:11-13

Jeremiah 29:11 is one of those verses that I tend to gloss over. Having gone to private, Christian schools throughout my entire life, I know Jeremiah 29:11 about as well as I know my ABCs. It’s the verse that gets pulled out in every turning point in life, as well as every tribulation.

However, as much time as I have spent pouring over verse 11, the rest of the chapter often gets left out. It’s part of a letter written to the Israelites while they were living in captivity in Babylon.

I particularly like verses 12 and 13. I feel like they complete verse 11.  Verse 11 shows God’s goodness and his provision for His people. However, the next two verses outline our response to Him.

“Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”

Our response to God’s plan for us is to come to Him and to communicate with Him with “ALL your heart.” Also, it says, “You WILL seek Me and find me.”

Earlier I mentioned that this is a verse I tend to gloss over. If that’s the case, why did I just write five paragraphs about it? Well, sometimes God takes those things that you gloss over and shoves them right in front of your face so you can’t ignore it any more.  Well, that pretty much happened tonight.

You see, I’m kind of at a place where I don’t really know what God’s plans are for me. I kind of do… at least I know the basics of what I feel He’s called me to do. But the details are fuzzy. Let me tell you, I hate fuzzy details. I like knowing where I’m going, when I’m going, what I need to wear and what will be served for dinner a month in advance (okay, maybe that’s a slight exageration), but I love knowing details. Just last week, a friend and I were supposed to go to his family’s lake house for the Fourth of July. The problem was, he didn’t know when they were planning on leaving until he woke up the morning of (only 20 minutes before they decided to leave, might I add). Boy did that ruffle my feathers! And that was just plans for one day.

Sometimes I’m tempted to get frustrated with God and cop an attitude with Him. This is when the last two verses kick in. Rather than being angry, I must choose to pray and to search for Him with all my heart. And then, and only then, will I feel peace. Not necessarily peace that comes from knowing what His plans are, but peace that comes from steady, enduring trust in Him.

His plans aren’t always what I want them to be. Oftentimes, I find that hard to understand. Sometimes so much so that I cling tighter to what I want, making it more painful when God has to pry it from me. But God knows far better than I.  In fact, as Garth Brooks said, “Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.”

“Sometimes I thank God, for unanswered prayers
Remember when you’re talkin’ to the man upstairs
That just because he doesn’t answer doesn’t mean he don’t care
Some of God’s greatest gifts, are unanswered prayers.”
~Garth Brooks, “Unanswered Prayers”