It is December 26th and my family is continuing to enjoy a quiet Christmas week. The rest of my gang is down in the basement watching the “Lord of the Rings” for the 4th or 5th time, so I thought I would take some time to share a few more thoughts about my experience of Christmas this year.
On Christmas Eve, we attended the candlelight service and enjoyed a wonderful sermon by Pastor Rob. I found the sermon to be very meaningful for me personally and would like to share some thoughts on it with you. For those of you who don’t attend CPC, both of our pastors are wonderful teachers and you can find many of their sermons online on our church’s website here. I encourage you to check it out sometime!
In the month of December, Rob and Neil have been sharing with us about the nature of our gift from God at Christmas. On Christmas Eve, Rob asked us to look at what happened to the people in the Christmas story who came in contact with the Christ child. He suggested that these folks experienced four things: 1) they felt excitement and enthusiasm about what they saw 2) they felt compelled to share what they experienced 3) their experience caused them to ponder or think deeply 4) what they saw caused them to experience gratitude. As I listened to how the familiar biblical characters (Mary, Joseph, shepherds, angels, wisemen, etc.) reacted to their encounters with Jesus, I found that these four things really resonated with me personally. In fact, if I may be so bold, I think that these 4 things have something to do with this writing/ blogging that I have been doing in recent months. Let’s look at each of the four experiences more closely.
The first thing they experienced, excitement and/or enthusiasm, is something with which I can definitely relate. I believe that enthusiasm is how God wired me. If I like something, I get excited about it and people are likely to know it. Some people find me a bit overwhelming at first; I tend to come on pretty strong, I have a tendency to interrupt, and my friendliness seems insincere to folks who aren’t from Texas. I like to think that, as I get older, I am learning to temper my natural enthusiasm appropriately so that I don’t scare away those folks who are of a quieter nature. I also like to think that I am learning to allow God to use my “strong” (some might say obnoxious!) personality in ways that honor Him. Here’s the thing; I am seriously fired up about this God that I am trying to learn to serve and, like the angels on that first Christmas, I feel compelled to make some noise about it! I am crazy about Jesus, and I hope that this blog is one way that I can channel my enthusiasm…my excitement.. in a way that God can use. I have recently received some feedback from a few of you readers that God has blessed you through my words here and I praise God for that. Everytime I start to think that blogging is a waste of time or an exercise in self-indulgence, God moves one of you to send me an email or post a comment here encouraging me to continue. And, at least with the written word, you can quit reading when you have had enough!!
Like the characters in the Christmas story, when we see God at work, we just can’t keep it to ourselves…we just gotta share!! When the shepherds heard the angels making all that noise about this baby, they had to go check it out for themselves and tell some other people about it. As I have shared with you in previous entries, I believe that God is always at work around us and that we just have to look for Him at work to see His glory. Once we have allowed God to open our eyes to the work that He is doing in our own lives and in the world around us, we feel compelled to share the Good News. We want to share the love we have received, we want to share the blessings we have been given, we want to share the peace we have found. We can’t come in contact with the Living God and not be moved to share. When God fills us up with His love, it overflows to the world around us. I see this all the time in the Christian sisters and brothers with whom I have been blessed to share my journey. The people I know who truly walk each day with the Lord are the most generous-spirited individuals I have ever met. My hope is that this blog is one little way that I can personally share with others what God has done and is doing for me.
Here’s the one that I really like; those who came in contact with the Christ child in our Christmas story were left with some things to think about! So much about our walk with the Lord is shrouded in mystery. Our human minds just aren’t big enough to comprehend the majesty and power of this God we love…or why He would choose to pursue us by becoming one of us. We can’t understand all that God is because He is just too big, too powerful, too good, too wise. We ask how, when, where and especially why. I know that I have always been full of those questions and I believe He wants us to keep digging deeper and looking harder. I do not believe that faith means that we check our brains at the door. I believe He wants us to continue seeking Him, to continue reading His word, to continue listening to wise teachers, to continue asking questions….thinking, pondering, praying, seeking. I know that, for me personally, the more I ask questions, the more He gives me answers….maybe not the answers I expected, but ultimately the very answer that I needed at that moment. Back to the verse for which I named my blog, Jeremiah 29:13, “You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.” You can’t come in contact with this Jesus without being left with some things to ponder! I like to think that this blog is the place where I do some of that “pondering” and invite you to join me. And then, as we ponder some questions together, we invite God to provide the answers in His time.
Ultimately, like the characters in our Christmas story, when we come in contact with Jesus, we can’t help but be filled with gratitude. When we begin to comprehend what this Christmas gift from God was all about, we are humbled. In that humility, we find a sense of gratitude so overwhelming, so pervasive that we are drawn back into that cycle of excitement, sharing, pondering and again gratitude….excitement, sharing, pondering, gratitude…excitement, sharing, pondering, gratitude…with each time ’round bringing us closer and closer to Him who seeks us and calls us to seek Him. And out of that gratitude, we joyfully seek to love bigger, serve better, give more. And doesn’t that seem to be what Christmas…and the other 364 days of the year…should be all about? For me, gratitude is my biggest motivator; that which keeps me seeking Him, that which keeps me trying to serve Him, and that which keeps me sharing about Him. My prayer for all of us in 2006 is that God would enable each of us to do those things more powerfully and more effectively!
I guess the most powerful part of the sermon for me was when I realized that all four of the things Rob described were things that I had experienced. The reason why I had experienced them took my breath away for a moment Christmas Eve. Like the people in the Christmas story, I have been blessed to come in contact with the Christ, the Messiah, the Newborn King, the Prince of Peace, Emmanuel- God With Us!! Because I have met this Jesus, my life, like those in our story, will never be the same!
For those of you who are still reading, I appreciate you sticking with me through this long entry! And my thanks to Rob for allowing God to use him to speak to me, and I assume many others, on Christmas Eve. Let me end this by using Rob’s closing words to us on Christmas Eve: Have you received God’s incredible, indescribable, undeserved, perfect gift to you this Christmas? It will change you forever!!!