The Dawning Time

fullsizerender-39The people walking in darkness
    have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
    a light has dawned. Isaiah 9:2

Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali—to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah:“…the people living in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned.” Matthew 4:13-16

What has impressed on me more than anything this Christmas is the link between Scriptural prophecy on the coming of Christ and the fulfillment recorded in the gospels. I mean I KNEW about it and I BELIEVED it. But this year it’s really jumping off the pages for me.

God said Jesus was coming. People wrote it down. Everything He said would happen, did happen. People wrote it down. And the pages survived and flourished in translation for thousands of years. This is unequivocal reliability.

We will all most likely spend the next twenty-four hours or so in various kinds of traditional Christmas activities or preparing for said activities. And we will feel joy, nostalgia, sentiment, perhaps great sadness. But, to me, none of this comes close to the soul-bending awe that results when I think about the dawning of a Light that has reached down, in great hope, to our helpless state of darkness.

Even on a day sometimes referred to as the Festival of Lights, we can experience that dimmest kind of murkiness, simply resulting from our imperfect existence. May you know and see and feel and believe that which darkness CANNOT prevent from breaking through.

To me, Christmas is a beautiful reminder and celebration of the dawning time.

My sincere gratitude for your prayers and support as we continue to journey with childhood cancer. Justin and the boys enjoyed decorating cookies last night. Grace be with you, my friends.

Real Soaring

Isaiah 40:28-31

The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
    his understanding is unsearchable.
 He gives power to the faint,
    and to him who has no might he increases strength.
    Even youths shall faint and be weary,
    and young men shall fall exhausted;
   but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
    they shall walk and not faint.

I’ve read this passage many times and often found it very encouraging. But as I struggled and pushed myself through Christmas program directing, shopping, baking, wrapping, and entertaining in spite of pain, weakness and extreme fatigue, I read it again. I wasn’t encouraged. In fact, it really bothered me.

This is what I was thinking to myself: I trust God and think I do an okay job of waiting on Him. Yet I’m weary all the time. And I certainly can’t run. Sometimes I can’t even walk.

So I was annoyed at God’s words and having this little tantrum in my mind. Even though I know I am blessed to be able to walk at all. And see. And hear. And use my hands. And breathe. Yet, in my human weakness, I was still having a momentary meltdown.

Until God opened my eyes. You see, He is very good at handling tantrums. He speaks softly and gently to our hearts. If we repent of our pride and selfishness, we are able to hear the truth. And, well, for me, the truth is this: I know from experience with my three boys that children interpret things very literally. And I was reading this like a kindergartner.

God is referring to sustaining the human spirit, which could manifest in physical strength but is definitely not limited to that. When we trust in God and not ourselves, He is promising to give us a spirit of tenacity, endurance and increased faith. We are able to spiritually “soar like eagles” because we believe we are loved unimaginably and that there is purpose to our lives and everything that happens. We may feel extremely physically or emotionally tired and incapable. But deeper trust, rising hope and renewed perseverance will come to us from the Lord if we would only wait a minute instead of charging ahead in our own limited spiritual strength.

If this interpretation seemed so totally obvious to you as you read the above passage, I give you full permission to have a chuckle over my elementary moment. I don’t mind admitting that any wisdom I might possess comes entirely from God.

But, for me, I’m lying here recovering from too much “pushing myself” through the holiday. And it is wonderful to realize that I can still “soar like an eagle” even though I’m having difficulty getting myself a glass of water.

What was your hardship this past Christmas? What is it that made you feel physically or emotionally exhausted? Perhaps you also struggle with chronic pain or disease. Maybe it was your first Christmas after the loss of a loved one. Or maybe you spent the holiday apart from family because of divorce, death, broken relationships or mere distance. I cannot claim to relate to all of these incredibly difficult circumstances. But I know someone who can.

Jesus traveled around spreading the Good News and was often rejected. Because he was God in the flesh, He experienced hunger, thirst, pain and fatigue. Jesus was betrayed by His disciple, Judas, and the people whom He came to save and heal. Jesus was denied and abandoned by His disciples as He went to the cross. As He took on the sin of the entire world and endured the excruciating pain and shame of Roman crucifixion, He experienced physical and emotional stress that we cannot truly comprehend. His own Father looked away as His Son became sin and received the penalty of death.

Jesus did all of that for me. Someone who admits annoyance, albeit temporary, at the words of the God of the universe! Because after all He’s done for me, I still want my own way at times. And because feeling sorry for myself clouded my ability to understand and believe truth. But remembering all He did and all that He is and believing it was for me, well, that is better than walking. Better than running. And that is real soaring.

He also did it for you. Grace be with you, my friends.