I wrote this post several years ago, but I try to share it every year at this time. Thank You, Jesus. Thank You.
I went to the foot of the cross during a prayer meeting at church a number of years ago. I knelt there, rested my hand on the wood, and bowed my head. I knew it wasn’t the actual cross Jesus was crucified on, but I imagined it was:
I imagined Jesus looking down at me as He suffered, His blood running down and flowing over the rough, splintered wood before reaching my fingertips. I sobbed, imagining His face swollen and beaten, His eyes mere slits. But He was able to see me as I knelt there, my heart tearing in two. I hated the idea of His suffering, and at the same time, I was so deeply thankful because I knew He was saving me in a…
I’ve been struggling in our little corner of the world for the past two months. Maybe you’ve been struggling too.
But I couldn’t let Christmas pass by without sharing my Christmas story, “The Gift of Time” with you. If you’re having a hard time forgiving someone, I hope you’ll take a moment to check out this SHORT video. Please forgive my tears!
As we’ve recently suffered a deep loss here, maybe that’s where your heart is too. Maybe you’re hurting because you miss someone. I hope you’ll take a moment to listen as I read another one of my Christmas stories, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” I pray it brings you comfort and hope.
But maybe Christmas hurts. Maybe it reminds you of a time when tragedy left you shattered. Maybe that’s where you are now. If that’s the case, I hope my following devotional will bring you peace. May God bless you and keep you close this Christmas and always.
WHEN CHRISTMAS HURTS
It’s no secret that life can be painful even during the Christmas season. Illness can strike when you should be celebrating with family and friends. Tragedies still devastate during the season.
It’s as if the ugliness of the world tries to mar Christmas, tries to steal it from your heart.
Oh, precious soul, that’s when you need the miraculous, powerful love of Christmas even more.
Jesus Christ came looking for you. He left all the glory of heaven to be born in a filthy stable and to die on a cross to save you. He loves you infinitely more than you can possibly comprehend.
It’s a love that carries you through, heals your brokenness, and gives you the strength to keep going even in the darkness. The Light of the world came and pierced the darkness to reach out to you. Take His hand and hold on tight.
Pain, loss, and suffering are all trademarks of darkness. The enemy will use any tactic to twist the truth, to make Christmas painful for you. Satan doesn’t want you to remember how much God loves you.
The enemy doesn’t want you to realize that because of Jesus Christ, you have something the enemy and this world can’t touch – hope.
Glorious, eternal hope because your God made a way through His Son, Jesus Christ for you to come home – your heavenly home where Jesus is preparing a special place for you and where you’ve been storing up treasures. And it’s the place where those who’ve gone ahead of you are waiting for you. Those you’ve loved, those whose hands you had to let go of so they could take hold of the One who came to take them home.
Their Savior. Your Savior. Jesus Christ.
As difficult as your pain might be right now, it is only temporary. It may seem that your soul has cracked and split in two and Christmas will only be a reminder of that devastating blow.
But remember, Christmas is a promise of things to come. Christmas is the reminder of love that came to save, that’s here now, and will always be yours. Because of Christmas, there will come a day when pain will simply be a word that has no meaning to you. Death and grieving will be replaced with dancing and rejoicing on the street of gold. Tears will be replaced with overwhelming joy and laughter.
And the rescuing love of Christmas will reach even further into your heart, filling you and making you whole. Oh, precious soul. Nothing can mar the miraculous love of Christmas, and no one can take it from you. It’s not only powerful enough to dispel the darkness that tries to come against you, but it’s the love that is yours for all eternity.
The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.”
Have you ever had one of those days when you’re literally running through your house because you need to leave for an appointment, BUT there’s something you HAVE to do first?
I have a confession to make:
I had a writing assignment due early one morning. That same morning, I had a doctor’s appointment.
Of course, I should have managed my time better. It’s not like I didn’t know the deadline. It wasn’t like I was clueless about my doctor’s appointment.
While I was running down the hallway after my purse, I was begging God to help me with everything – that the writing would be what He wanted and that I wouldn’t be late to my appointment.
I finished my assignment and made it to my appointment on time.
And yet, in the midst of my mad dash that morning, I prayed and asked God, “What’s wrong with me? Why do I do this?”
And here’s what I learned:
I procrastinate. (Big shocker, I know.) I thought I was waiting on God to lead me with writing. But the truth, I was pushing if off to the side because I had other things I wanted to write.
AND sometimes I let fear tag along – that bratty little sister to big brother procrastination. I get fearful that something is going to be too hard or that I’m going to fail, so I push it aside. As if somehow waiting will make it easier. Oh, sure. It was so much easier that day when I was brushing my teeth while looking for my car keys.
So, my problem that morning wasn’t that my plate was too full. My problem was ME and the way I procrastinate.
Do you struggle with this too? Are there things you KNOW you need to do, but you think it can wait? Or maybe you’re afraid so it just seems easier, safer to put it off until you feel stronger and you’ve got your act together.
Look back at my story for a minute. I sure didn’t have my act together when I asked God to help me AFTER I procrastinated. Thankfully, He did.
But even though He did help, even though God DID do a lot with the little bit of time and the little bit of focus I gave Him, I have to wonder what He could have accomplished if I would have given Him more?
What can He accomplish through YOU if you stop procrastinating and give Him more of your time, more of your focus?
The world may be waiting to see.
“Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”
Think back to your first day of school. Can you remember the excitement? The nerves? Look how many changes have taken place in your life since that day.
Perhaps you’ve changed jobs recently or even your address. A new house can be filled with wonderful new possibilities. A fresh start.
Maybe a relationship has ended – one that was near to your heart. Or perhaps you had to let go of someone who recently passed away. That kind of change can be heart-wrenching.
But there is one change that is certainly coming. It’s on the horizon. It won’t linger much longer. It will be more lasting than changing jobs or relationships.
One day, dear soul, change is coming to your body. Not the wrinkles or the gray hair or even the weight gain that sometimes comes with age.
Your body is going to change in the blink of an eye when Jesus Christ returns, and you’re going to be lifted up to meet Him in the clouds. You’ll be with Him forever and away from the chaos, violence, and wickedness of this world.
Such a powerful little word.
If you are ready. If you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior before the trumpet sounds. There are no shortcuts. There is no substitute. No other path will lead you to Heaven. No other ticket will grant you access.
“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.” (Romans 10:9. NIV.)
You will be lifted up when Jesus returns. Rescued. Taken away and spared more turmoil and mayhem than this world has ever known.
Will you be ready when the trumpet sounds? Are you ready right now?
Any day now. Any moment, precious soul.
No one knows the day or the hour, only the Father. But the day IS coming.
Please be ready. Change is coming.
“But let me tell you something wonderful, a mystery I’ll probably never fully understand. We’re not all going to die – but we are all going to be changed. You hear a blast to end all blasts from a trumpet, and in the time that you look up and blink your eyes – it’s over. On signal from that trumpet from heaven, the dead will be up and out of their graves, beyond the reach of death, never to die again. At the same moment and in the same way, we’ll all be changed. In the resurrection scheme of things, this has to happen: everything perishable taken off the shelves and replaced by the imperishable, this mortal replaced by the immortal.”
For the past few weeks, I’ve been reading Scripture as I listen and then, I listen again. Really listen. I wait for the Holy Spirit to lead me in writing and then it comes in waves, flooding and saturating me.
Other mornings have been painful as I write from a place of pain. Let me explain.
I’ve been struggling physically with jaw pain. It seems when I fell in the shower years ago that I did a real number on my face. Anyway, it hurts to chew and…it hurts to talk.
This is no easy task for me, not talking, since I talk all the time. All. The. Time.
I realized at church on Sunday that I also can’t lift my voice to the Lord like I want. Singing was excruciating. I did it anyway (the best I could) and cried when I couldn’t.
Fast forward into Monday, and I found myself in the middle of a spiritual battle. I mean from every angle. It was one of the darkest days of my life. Pain and discouragement felt like a dark dungeon to me.
That morning I didn’t know how I could possibly write anything. I needed help. I NEEDED prayer.
I was bawling on the floor in our living room, the pain in my jaw excruciating and matching the pain in my lower back – I’d hurt myself the week before while lifting our mattress.
So, I wrote a postfor others about needing others. But I knew God was using it to speak to me too. I quickly sent a few texts and made a call and asked others to pray for me.
And I felt every prayer lighten the load, the physical pain, and the darkness of discouragement. Every single prayer helped.
And later that night when I got in the shower, I knew I couldn’t sing because of the pain in my jaw, but I realized I could still hum.
I hummed “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” while I was in the shower. The warm water soothed my back and jaw, but it was that song coming from within me that soothed my aching spirit.
And today I’m moving forward with that song tucked in my heart. Yes, I have to be quiet today. But I can hear that song – I can listen to it. All. Day. Long.
If you’re struggling, my friend, cry out to God while you’re lying there on the floor. Don’t hesitate for a minute to ask others to pray for you. The enemy may be ruthless, but because of the blood of Jesus Christ…
You are victorious!
Let God fill your heart with a new song as you sing from a place of victory.
“Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world.”
Isaiah 12:5 NIV.
“But I will trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me.”
Psalm 13:5-6 NIV.
“He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.”
I was reminded of a Scripture after falling apart at my computer, crying and carrying on like a spoiled brat not getting her way. The words came to me like a whisper:
“If you falter in times of trouble, how small is your strength!” (Proverbs 24:10 NIV.)
Let me explain: I’ve been writing since I was a little girl. It’s tucked so tenderly within my heart, and I know God put it there. It’s something I believe He’s called me to do, so I will keep writing as He keeps leading.
And yet, He’s put other things in my heart that I don’t want to waste: I love talking (big shocker there for anyone who’s spent five minutes with me!) and encouraging others, and I love to create graphic art; taking photographs at the lake with my hubby and hurrying home to upload the pic so I can add…
Maybe you’re feeling out of sorts like you don’t fit in, like a penguin on a hot sandy beach looking for cooler waters. Or maybe you feel like you’re the only one doing what you’re doing, and you wonder if the world is looking at you like you’re nuts.
You are not alone, my friend! Check out the rest of my blog post here.
Oh my. I’m sitting in my basement office in my pj’s and when I prayed and asked God for guidance for this post, those words came to me. I suppose God wants me to write about the elephant here in my room.
I’ve been struggling with a physical issue for a few weeks, and I haven’t been able to write a blog post because it felt draining to me. Just being honest. Writing a blog post like this, well, it’s been hard because I open up here in the hopes of helping someone out there.
Being honest about what we’re going through can be hard. Letting others see us without our game faces (or makeup!) can be so revealing, so cringe-worthy. We want to appear to be strong and sleek and on top of things. Not weak, pudgy, and falling asleep on the couch before it gets dark.
And yet when we’re not feeling our best or we’re battling something attacking our bodies, we are not able to perform at our best.
I remember when I used to run a long time ago when my knees would allow it. If I ate a bowl of mint chocolate chip ice cream the night before, my morning run suffered.
Now if I don’t exercise, I struggle with brain fog and my entire body suffers. (I suppose I’ve been in denial thinking I can eat the way I used to when I was in my twenties and NOT exercise and nothing is going to change. Hello, reality!)
So it seems, if we don’t take care of ourselves, our ministry, our service to God and others suffer.
Your ministry might be spending time with your child and showing them God’s love through nature walks, volunteering at a food pantry, working long hours to put food on the table for your family, encouraging a friend, visiting someone who can’t venture out, writing stories of faith and hope, singing of God’s glory..the list can go on and on.
So, taking care of ourselves would not be a selfish act, but a way to honor God and to love others. And to be ready.
That’s right. When God calls us to expand our ministry or begin a new one, we’ll be excited and full of overall tingling anticipation—not drained at the very thought of doing ONE MORE THING.
You know what I’m talking about, don’t you?
Today, I’m taking the plunge into better health so my ministry won’t suffer and I can be ready. I’ve been here before and wandered off to My Own Way Lane where chocolate chips, potato chips, and bowls of frosting abound. But God is drawing me back. (Thank You, Lord!)
So what does this involve for me? Eating better (cue my grumpy toddler face), exercising (face contorted in pain), and a doctor’s visit (using wisdom here).
What about you? Are you willing to take care of yourself so your ministry can flourish and you can be ready when God calls?
“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”