This is the time of year when focus inevitably shifts to wishes and wants. Shiny displays and seasonal songs, clever ads and pitches on how to have a perfect holiday seem to be everywhere we turn. Yet truly, things can't make us happy. Sure, we may bask in the glow of something new for a few days, weeks, or (rare) months. Yet we were made for more than this world can offer.
"Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor for what does not satisfy. Listen. listen to me... And your soul will delight in the richest of fare." (Isaiah 55:2)
A conversation today reminded me that many of God's own people are stuck in "poverty of spirit" (and I am not referring to humility). Those who once met God may now have empty tanks, spiritually, due to lack of time spent with Him. Let me be clear: I am not referring to time spent in church, for sometimes church activities compete with time for God himself. And I don't mean that more prayer is required (though prayer is always a good place to start). I pray a lot. Daily, sometimes moment by moment- especially during stressful times. But when I feel distant, or empty, it's a cue to re-evaluate how much time I spend seeking God, himself- His presence. Am I Being Still? Listening for his voice? I know I will never be fulfilled if I am not being filled with Him.
Material items, flurries of activity, and perfectionism seem to be inescapable this time of year . It's easy to fall prey to the idea that the holidays (or life, itself) MUST be a certain way, or we can't be happy. We can get sucked into the "tyranny of the shoulds"... and side tracked by people pleasing.
Financially, emotionally, and spiritually, this time of year it's easy to get in way over our heads for a few moments of fleeting happiness, and at the end of it all we may be faced with discontent, rather than all that is Merry and Bright.
Why? Because we were made for SO much more. We were made for intimacy with Living Love. We have been given many gifts, yes. But using them does not complete us. Only God can make us whole... that's the point of Christmas.
If we could have achieved peace through spending our energies and our resources, God would have sent some Thing to help us do so. Instead, God sent Some One to be Love personified.
If the empty places are ever to be filled, we must dispense with pleading for things, and turn our hearts toward what He gives, recognizing how much He has already given. When we are at the end of a very frayed rope, No Thing can save us. No Thing can undo the mistakes we've made, No Thing can rescue us from a pit of our own making. But our God lives to heal (literally). He lives to embrace us as we grieve mistakes and show us a way out. He lives to teach us to retrain our minds to make better choices today than we did yesterday. To guide us into a life of meaning.
Now let me be clear- God is not a magic Genie who removes the consequences of poor choices (I've learned this lesson the hard way). What God offers is courage to face reality and move forward in His embrace. This requires a willingness to cease repetitive pleas to the heavens and Let Him In. Daily. Moment by Moment.
When I cry for help, I have to be willing to receive it. To shift my focus and seek His face, letting God guide the ship. Regrets tossed overboard, for they don't really change me. I must be transformed by the Living God. And I must be in day by day, two-way communication with him if I am to know how to move forward.
Looking for answers? Relational alignment is the first step. God will lead us out of darkness into His glorious light, if we simply let Him into every moment. Purpose is found as we re-train our minds to find meaning in
relationship instead of striving to fulfill random wants (ours and those
Possible, yes. This journey begins at the altar, requiring only that we let go of want and embrace the Alpha and Omega, who IS all we need, from beginning to end.
Father God, I confess that there is much to engage the eyes of my heart this time of year. Yet I know that in the inmost places of my being, I need You- and You alone. I give you free access to every area of my life you want to change. I surrender every want, every disappointment, every dream, every hope, and every single plan I've clung to, and I ask instead for your plans and purposes- plans to heal and transform, plans to complete and set me free. God, give me a heart like yours, eyes to see truth and ears to hear your voice, as well as a mouth that speaks love, gratitude and kindness. BE the change in me. Heal me in spirit, soul and body, and most of all, set me free.
In the strong and Holy name of Jesus I pray, Amen