Christmas Reflections – I need a Savior!

lilandivychristmas2012

This Christmas was different for me.  Although Christmas is always a time of hope, and joy is found in that hope, it can also be a time when things that aren’t right about this world come to the surface and cause grief.  For me, my battle with migraines was at the forefront as I have had one more often than not now for about 2 months.  Because of this I’ve been, for the most part, laying low.  I did our Christmas shopping online and somehow avoided most of the glitter, and often times confusing messages that come with this season.  I had very little exposure to the world’s messages of Christmas and in many ways found my soul much more prepared to worship the king, born for us.  The trial in which I find myself has granted me a clear message.  I need a Savior!  (Talk about a timely Christmas message!)  This is obviously not a new message, but oh so clear and helpful.  The physical suffering I’ve been experiencing has been doing 3 things in me.

1.  The suffering is keeping me reliant.  I need the Lord to help me to persevere.  I need Him to strengthen and to grant perspective. The continuous migraines are helping me to walk minute by minute, hand in hand with Christ.  I need a Savior!

2.  The suffering is spotlighting my sin.  It doesn’t take much time when you’re feeling terribly to realize that you are sinful.  I’ve battled with anger, frustration, impatience, and the list goes on.  By God’s grace and help by the Holy Spirit, I pray that this sin is being uprooted!  I need a Savior!

3.  The suffering is helping me to cry out for/long for my Savior.  My body and soul are crying out to be saved from this broken world.  I am longing for heaven and for my Savior to take me there.  Come Lord Jesus, come quickly!  I need a Savior!

1 Peter 1:3-9  Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

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Hindered, or not?

Tonight as I re-read a chapter and poem by Amy Carmichael, I began to think.  My reality is that my illness prevents me from doing so many things on this earth.  Things I used to love to do (run, snow ski, hike…) and things I’d love to try or adventures I’d love to go on with our family.  Although these realities are difficult, and often bring about a sinful battle for contentment, I’m thankful that my weakness doesn’t impair the ability to fulfill my calling (my sin surely does, but that’s for another blog post!).  My single purpose and goal in life is to bring my Savior glory.  What a relief!!  In God’s kingdom, the one that truly matters, my frailty isn’t a hindrance to living the life that I’m called to live.

A bruised reed shall He not break: the poorest shepherd boy on our South Indian hills is careful to choose, for the making of his flute, a reed that is straight and fine and quite unbruised.  But our Heavenly Shepherd often takes the broken and the bruised, and of such He makes His flutes.  But life, like His book, is full of parables of tenderness; and one of these has often come into this room of late.  For he whose name means God’s Peace has brought his autoharp to play to me, and has first tuned it while I expectantly waited for the music which I knew would follow the tuning. 

    Is music to come from our harp?  Music of prayer, of praise, of consolation?  The strings are relaxed, or perhaps too tensely stretched.  Illness can cause either condition.  But we have a Tuner.

Tune Thou my harp;
There is not, Lord, could never be,
The skill in me.

Tune Thou my harp,
That it may play Thy melody,
Thy harmony.

Tune Thou my harp;
O Spirit, breathe Thy thought through me,
As pleaseth Thee.”  ~Amy Carmichael, “Rose from Briar

2 Cor. 12:9  “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

Reliant

I’ve been super tired lately, even more than usual.  The kind of fatigue where you find yourself staring because anything else involves too much energy.  It’s been a good time to reflect on heaven, the new body I have to look forward to, and most of all to the peace of being in the Lord’s presence.

One of most difficult symptoms I deal with is shortness of breath.  There’s really nothing like the feeling of not having enough air.  This certainly keeps me very reliant on the Lord for peace and perspective.  Keith’s sermon today was such a great reminder that I already have everything I need.  Health is not a need.  Breath is really not even a need.  The Gospel is all I truly need.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

It will be alright

Tonight while reading to Lillian from “The Jesus Storybook Bible”, I was struck by a phrase, filled with hope.  It was the story of Jairus’ daughter from Luke 8.  Jairus was trying to find Jesus to heal his sick daughter and when he found him he said,

(Taken from the storybook bible)

“‘Jesus!’ he said, falling at Jesus’ feet.  ‘My daughter,’ he pleaded.  ‘Please–‘  But he didn’t need to beg because before he’d even finished speaking, Jesus reached out his hand and helped him up, ‘I’ll come at once,’ Jesus said.  Jairus’ eyes filled with tears.  Jesus was coming.  It would be all right.”

Did you catch the phrase that is so full of hope?  Jesus was coming.  It would be all right.

Plain and simple, this is what I need to meditate on.  Not on my symptoms (new or old), not on the troubles that seem to surround me, not on the endless meaningless tasks that so easily discourage me (laundry, dishes…).  I can’t live in heaven now but I can keep a “big picture” perspective, continually keeping in mind that Jesus is coming, and that since I’ve confessed my sins and believed in Him it will “be all right.” I still battle pain and hardship but the reality is that these trials will soon seem like nothing once I am in the presence of Christ for eternity.  Keeping it all in perspective helps me to persevere – even when I don’t feel like I can.

Romans 10:8-11

“8But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,”that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. 11As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” 12For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

James 5:7-8

“7Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. 8You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.”

“A Greater Blessedness”

This Christmas season, Keith and I were blessed and challenged as we read through this excellent book of advent readings.  I have continued to reflect on a few of the selections that seemed to prick my heart in new ways.  One such reading, by Jonathan Edwards, keeps coming to mind.  Here’s an exerpt from it:

‘”Tis a greater blessedness to have spiritual communion with God and to have a saving intercourse with him by the instances of his Spirit and by the exercise of true devotion than it is to converse with God externally, to see the visible representation and manifestations of his presence and glory, and to hear his voice with the bodily ears as Moses did.  For in this Spiritual intercourse the soul is nigh unto and hath more a particular portion than in any external intercourse.”

It seems in my own life as I read Scripture I find myself thinking thoughts such as, “if I could only see Christ and hear Him say these words then obedience would come more easily,” etc.  I found this selection by Edwards so challenging as he clearly explains how we are SO much more blessed to have “Spiritual Communion” and “saving intercourse” than if we were to sit at Jesus’ feet and literally hear his voice.

The work of Christ on the cross is all I need and yet I so often lose sight of the implications of the Gospel as I go about my day.  The Holy Spirit now dwells in me.  My sins have been atoned for.  My Savior is interceding for me, cheering me on.  I have the hope of Heaven shining brightly and yet too often I let the darkness of this world seep in robbing me of joy and perspective.

Lord Jesus, grant me the grace to see my blessedness!

Contentment = Heaven on Earth

Keith and I are continuing to read “The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment” by Jeremiah Burroughs.  There’s so much to “chew on” that I think I could just keep reading this book over and over and continue to glean truth for my soul.

I recently read a section on contentment which likened a contented heart to Heaven.  My desire is to live a contented life and thus a restful, joyful one that is satisfied in Him alone…I have a ways to go!!

“Thus you see that contentment brings comfort to a man’s life, fills it full of comfort in this world; the truth is, it is even a Heaven on earth.  What is heaven, but the rest and quiet of a man’s spirit; that is the special thing that makes the life of Heaven, there is rest and joy, and satisfaction in God.  So it is in a contented spirit: there is rest and joy and satisfaction in God.  In Heaven there is singing praises to God; a contented heart is always praising and blessing God.  You have Heaven while on earth when you have a contented spirit…”

One Year Closer to Your Eternal Destiny

I have been reflecting on two things lately.

1.  There are times in life when our emotions don’t follow our hearts.  Although my heart is at peace in the Gospel I’ve been tossed and turned quite a bit recently by changing emotions and feelings.  I think for me right now these are caused by pregnancy but I’m sure I’ll experience many different seasons throughout my life when my feelings confuse me.  This has made me long even more for my eternal home where my emotions will be all joy and love for my Heavenly Father and those around me – no matter what the day or hour.

2.  At the close of 2008 I am overjoyed to be 1 year closer to my eternal home.  I’ve been reading more sermons by Jonathan Edwards that have served as reminders that my present home, earth, is a transient place.  Every one of us is bound for an eternal home – eternal destruction apart from Christ or eternal life available in Christ.

“The home to which we aspire and for which we pant is not only a promised, it is also a perfect and permanent home.  The mixed character of those seasons we now call repose, and the shifting places and changing dwellings we call home, should perpetually remind us that we are not, as yet, come to the perfect rest and the permanent home of heaven.  God is the believer’s present home and Jesus his present rest.  Beneath the shadow of the cross, by the side of the mercy seat, within the pavilion of a Father’s love, there is true mental repose, real heart’s ease, and a peace that passeth all understanding, to be found even here where all things else are fleeting as a cloud and unsubstantial as a dream…It is enough that I am journeying toward the heaven that is my rest, and that I am one year nearer its blessed and endless enjoyment.” Octavious Winslow (1808 – 1878)

I praise you Father for your grace and mercy that allows sinners like me to find security in your love and eternal plan!!