Scrooge, the Grinch…..all of these are accurate descriptions that would outline my attitude towards Christmas. It’s probably quite humorous to hear because I work in a church. You would think that because of the Christmas story that I wouldn’t have such a posture. I suppose the reason for why I am not as excited as I should be is because of what culture has made it out to be. To prove my point, I was driving past our local mall two nights ago and there had been a shooting and the whole place was in lockdown. Cops swarmed the place. It’s utter madness.
Within my own reservations, God has encouraged me to think differently about this mindset when thinking about Christmas. It’s how God is. It’s who He is. He shows up in such specific ways, reveals his character, completely altering my perspective to a much larger one. A perspective that isn’t limited to my human understanding.There is theme that my church here has shed light on about what Christmas is all about.
It centers around the truth that God in His unfailing love, grace, and commitment to His people put a massive plan into action by sending His son Jesus to redeem people of their sins through His death on the cross. What we as humans could not fulfill, He stepped into on our behalf. There is an invitation that once knowing, understanding, and adopting this truth personally for ourselves, accepting Jesus for what He has done for us and making Him Lord, that we are on a massive adventure of redemption all the while drawing people back to himself. God longed to rescue, to save us and in His infinite love for us, He longs for us to experience this daily with Him. He longs for us to live life freely and I am convinced we can experience no such thing apart from Him. It’s funny when you are truly running after Him how God will make things clear as day to you. You won’t miss a thing when you are attentive to Him.
I am certain that the message He wants me to understand this year is about His rescue. And not just from the power of sin and death but of every situation that is not of Him, everyday. Another way to put it is this: dodging bullets. I find that God rescues and in the long run you end up dodging major bullets that would have taken you completely off the track that He has for you. Sometimes when He ducks our heads to dodge the bullet it is very painful. It’s painful for the moment until you realize this thing, that place, this person, that dream is being removed from the radar in order to save you from what might could be a disaster. When we can recognize this, we will feel all the more free and more certain of God’s love us. God has this way of doing this with His children. It may be unanswered prayer, it may be rejection from family, it may be a terrible ending to hopes and plans. In the end God knows what will ultimately bring us joy and stir our affections for Him. Therefore backing off and allowing Him to take away, to replace, to bring new people into the stories of our lives all translates the power of His rescue. This is what I celebrate this day.
My heart feels so full that it is going to burst at the seams. The joy that is present cannot be contained. The more I see, the more I experience, the more I want to know Him and for others to experience Him. God also does this: when you are walking on the path He has laid out before you He will always enable you to leave and transition well.
God has brought so many people in my life that I consider complete gifts from Him. From my lovely Nadia , who we met through the worst of circumstances, to worshipping God together and enjoying a meal on Christmas Eve, to spending great time with my family and having the opportunity to worship with my mom, stepfather and little brother which is a rare occurrence. From the women that I have surrounding me in prayer, support, and encouragement that are all around the U.S. and the U.K. My Christmas card from Bloxham Baptist Youth, to Helene holding my hand at a random pizza joint after a hearing a hard truth that sucked all the air out my world, to being a part of Scott and Heidi’s journey as they are preparing to have their miracle baby. To flowers being delivered to me from one of the most amazing people I know and I will forever be changed by his extension and expression of our heavenly Father, to having the opportunity to see Mckenzie and Nathan, two dearest friends of mine that are off to the mission field in years time to reach the Muslim culture of northern Spain. I haven’t seen them in over 5 years if not longer.
To my dearest friend and sister Melissa who has been sheltering me physically in her home with her family but also sheltering and shielding me from anything that distracts and diverts and wants to rob me of my joy. To random things like Starbucks on Christmas morning at 12:30 where I got an official apron signed from the staff working, Skype phone calls with the pearsons, 4 a.m. riverside conversations, dance recitals at the Edison home, bloopers on videos, words of through cards, mugs, and spending time with people. To this morning where my little niece Reese was asked what her favorite present was this year and she said, “Aunt Shannon.” And then having her new fish named after me. To God’s perfect timing in all things.
For people coming into our lives changing us, inspiring us, leaving a mark that can never be removed.
All of these have been a gift to me, from God knowing what deflates me and removing it completely and also knowing what builds me up in who I am in Him and providing endless ways for me to experience His love. For this has been my rescue. All of these little, random but so intentional interactions orchestrated by God.
It definitely changes my thoughts for the day. Jesus you are my rescue. Merry Christmas friends.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AfJWaQJDi7k– my song for the season