The Christmas season is upon us. My most favorite time of the year. This season brings about so many warm, fuzzy memories of growing up with my parents and sister. Visiting grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Big family gatherings. Now I have my own family and my husband’s family. So many loved ones. We are making new memories with our own children. We are starting our own traditions.
This Christmas season I have a whole new perspective. Cory and I have been doing an Advent devotional with our children the past two weeks. Advent. The second coming of Christ. We have been reading through the scriptures and teaching our children about how God fulfilled His promises through the birth of a baby. The Savior of the world. Just as we read tonight. He was not what they expected. Yet his birth and all the circumstances around that day in Bethlehem only speak to the true nature of God. His compassion for the world. Everyone in that day was expecting Hercules. They were waiting on their savior and thought he would be a strong mighty warrior riding in on his chariot. Instead, a baby was born in a dirty, smelly, cold stable… that baby changed the world forever. The answer to all our problems all wrapped in swaddling clothes in a manger. God used ordinary people to carry out His perfect plan.
My world is forever changed by the birth of the baby. Jesus. My Jesus. He has changed everything. I became a believer in Christ at a very young age. I remember it all very clearly. I prayed “the prayer” with my daddy. I was baptized in front of my church. I grew up going to church and loving Jesus. It wasn’t until my adult years that I truly experienced the Holy Spirit. I look back and see I had experiences here and there, no doubt. But, truly seeking him and sensing His presence in my daily life. Seeing Him bleed over into every part of my life. That came with maturity. Many call themselves Christians or believers in Jesus. But you see, there’s a difference. Those who believe and those whose lives bear fruit by their belief. I think all too many of us become comfortable. No one wants to endure suffering or trials of any kind. Yet it tells us in God's word that trials will come... that we should expect them. It's very hard to pray for the Lord to mature us in our faith when we don't know what that may look like... or what He may ask of us. If you're like me, I was scared to death by praying this, He may ask me to have cancer... or he may take one of my loved ones.
The problem with being comfortable is it leads to a stagnate faith. A faith that doesn't have the chance to grow. Don’t get me wrong, I love nice things. I love watching HGTV, putting on my sweatpants and curling up on the couch. I now see that before cancer, I too easily chose comfort. It was the easier thing to do. Then came cancer. My worst nightmare. Time to put my money where my mouth was. All these things I had said I believed in. I very quickly moved from a state of independence to dependence. As awful as it was, it was truly amazing. As I wholeheartedly sought the Lord, I was overcome with the presence of the Holy Spirit. Now I don’t want to be anywhere else. You see, if you’ve never experienced the presence of the Holy Spirit, then you don’t know what you’re missing. People can easily say, “What’s the big deal?”. But, if you have, then you quickly realize there is nowhere else you would rather be. I lived for years going to church and missed out on this. I lived a faith that was taught to me, which I am so incredibly thankful for. But I had to grow into my own faith. It’s only with the help of the Holy Spirit that my life was transformed. My stagnate faith has grown into a productive faith. With cancer, I was forced to confront so many heart issues I had. Control. Fear. Idolatry. Selfishness. Most people don’t have that luxury. However, I am so thankful. The Lord knew he couldn’t get my attention any other way. Thankfully we can never lose our salvation. Yet we can lose out on blessings the Lord intends for us.
So now, in this advent season, we celebrate the birth of a Savior... the baby that changed everything. May it be a time of renewal for us all. As we anticipate the second coming of Christ. The day when all believers will be united and meet God face to face. What a beautiful time that will be. In the meantime, we have work to do. I want to have the best life here on earth. I want to experience all that God has intended for me. Lord, continue to wreck me. My eyes are open and they are on you. Give me a heart for what’s yours. May I remember all that you have done for me, so that I may share that transforming love with others.
I have come so that you may life, life in all its fullness. John 10:10b
Jesus came to fulfill the promises of God. He came so that we could experience God in the flesh. Jesus left so that we could have the Holy Spirit living in us and leading us to live a life full of Him.
Too many people will live their whole lives believing in God without ever truly experiencing his transforming love. In that place, we miss out on all that God has intended for our lives. I am not pointing fingers because that was me and it still could be me. So every single day, I have a choice to make. This is a fallen, broken world we live in. People are suffering all over. Cancer. Drug Addiction. Unemployment. Adultery. Infertility. Death. Yet, we can still have joy. We have a hope in One that can tell the wind and the waves to stop at a moment’s notice. Wonderful counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Emmanuel.
This week I am going in for my three month cancer check. It is so hard to believe it’s already been almost three months since I completed my chemotherapy treatment. I will have my first scan (post-treatment), labs and then see Dr. Oh. I am already preparing myself for the enemy to have a field day this week with my mind. He would have me focus on the “what ifs” and the fear my flesh has of the cancer coming back. Instead, I have a choice. I am choosing Jesus. When I hear of tragedy or suffering in the lives of others, I so easily say “I don’t know how they do that. I just can’t imagine”. This last year was not one I was expecting, yet I am thankful. My eyes are now fully open. I would have never welcomed this journey. Instead, in this journey the Lord showed me who He really is. He is perfect. He is everything. I will never be the same. Thank goodness. If you would’ve asked me a year ago how I would’ve handled this cancer diagnosis, I would have not been able to answer that. After suffering from a panic attack, I would’ve said “there’s no way I could handle that”. Which is very true. I can’t handle this. I can’t handle anything this world may give me. But my Jesus can. My hope is in the One who controls the world. You see, this baby, he changed everything. He changed everything for me. He changed everything for you.
My new favorite Christmas song is “Noel”. Lauren Daigle sings it on Chris’ new Christmas cd “Adore”. First of all, her talent is unreal. But I love the lyrics of this song. Most especially in the chorus… “Come and see what God has done… the story of amazing love. The light of the world, given for us.”. You can listen to this song here.
This season in our lives has been one of many ups and downs, but God is moving in big ways. Our eyes are on Him. We will never be the same. Cory and I desire that our lives would be marked by a continued growth in fullness of God. Holy Spirit, lead us… We trust you with our every breath. You are bigger than cancer. In fact, we look at it that cancer has given us a platform to shout the story of your faithfulness. We all have a story. We are all ordinary people that God wants to use to carry out His perfect plan. Come and see what God has done. The story of your amazing love.