December 25th, 3:00 AM…for those of you who don’t know me well, I often write in the middle of the night. My rational is that since I rarely have a chance to slow down, God messes with my sleep and uses my down-time to talk to me. On this Christmas morning, my mind struggles to focus on one particular thing. Mostly, I am thinking about the meaning of Christmas – the true meaning, Jesus’ birth. But, since we’re nearing the end of December, I cannot help but reflect about my spiritual walk over this past year. What makes me even more pensive is that we are approaching the one-year anniversary of this newsletter. That means I’ve written eleven devotionals, but have they – have I – glorified God and inspired women in the process.
At the surface, it may seem like my thoughts are jumbled, but I submit to you, there is a definite connection between the Christmas story and our daily responsibilities as Christians. As we embark on yet another year of our life on this Earth, let us remember the joy we feel because of Jesus’ birth, and the love of God the Father, who gave us the ultimate Christmas gift over 2000 years ago. Jesus’ birth, life, ministry, death and resurrection are not mere events to consider twice a year, but really something that should be at the forefront of our thoughts every day!
That sounds great, but is that what we do? Is that what I do? Are sometimes my ideals simply words on a page that lack meaning and application in my life? When someone looks at me, do they see God’s love, or do they see some self-centered woman who cannot seem to get things right for any appreciable amount of time? Am I really progressing in my spiritual walk? Is it that two-steps-forward-one-step-back type of maturity, or do I find myself sliding down the spiritual mountain? I ask these questions to myself, but really, we should all consider where we are and where we’re going. If we truly believe the Christmas story, we need to ask these questions, and, we need to be honest enough with ourselves to answer them, but without condemnation.
When I reflect over the year, I see a few shining moments where God’s love radiated from me, but I also see some moments where I must have been demon-possessed! I honestly relate to Paul when he writes, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing. Now, if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it (Romans 7:15-20).”
I have to include the whole text to help you appreciate my thought-process. Paul has rehashed my entire spiritual journey in this passage, including the agonizing frustration that goes along with it. I’ve had this identical conversation with God, even taking it to the point of yelling, begging, and crying over it. I ask Him, “What’s wrong with me? God, come on, please help me be consistent. Help me show Your love; help me do the things I sincerely want to do. Why is that the more I want to show You, the more I end up disappointing You, and myself? Why?”
Paul was able to point out that our problem with not reaching our ideals is because of sin living in us. I don’t know about you, but looking at the magnitude of sin in my life, Paul’s words alone are not too reassuring! I mean, sure there’s been progress in reducing my sin, but it’s an incredibly slow process, like using an ice-pick to break up a glacier the size of Greenland. It would be enough to overwhelm me if I had to tackle this problem on my own. But, I am comforted to know that our sinful nature is overcome because of Jesus!
And, that brings us back to the Christmas story, the true meaning of Christmas… the birth of Jesus, who would later die to redeem us. We are completely undeserving of His sacrifice, especially considering nothing is required for us to accept His ultimate gift. For me, this puts everything in a different light. I’m not just forcing a mere ‘thank you’ to be polite for a gift I didn’t want. I am truly humbled by the magnificent gift that God has given me – a gift I didn’t even realize I needed for a large part of my life! I want to grow spiritually; I want to share God’s love with everyone; I want to honor the amazing God who loves us unconditionally. This doesn’t mean I will always get everything right, or even come close, but I can and will accept I am a work in progress and continue persevering towards to the goal. This year, let’s make it a daily priority to remember what we’ve been given and put God first in everything that we do. May you have joyful and blessed New Year!
“For this reason I kneel before the Father from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being so that Christ may dwell in your hearts. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled in the measure of all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:14-19).