Monday, December 29, 2008

Picture, Song, Article, My Thoughts... [in that order]

Picture: Of Trees
[I love trees]
Song: Shout to the North
[Charlie Hall]

Men of faith rise up and sing
Of the great and glorious King
You are strong when you feel weak
In your brokenness complete

Shout to the north and the south
Sing to the east and the west
Jesus is Saviour to all
Lord of heaven and earth

Rise up women of the truth
Stand and sing to broken hearts
Who can know the healing power
Of our awesome King of love

We've been through fire.
We've been through rain
We've been refined by the
power of his name
We've fallen deeper in love with You
You've burned the truth on our lips

Rise up church with broken wings
Fill this place with songs again
Of our God who reigns on high
By his grace again we'll fly.
(Bold and Italicization added by Ming)
It seems that many people think you can only celebrate Christmas if all is well. You can see this in the various statements beginning with, “It just does not seem like Christmas because ….” Perhaps we set ourselves up for failure by expecting everything to be just right at this time of the year.

If we pay attention to the Biblical text we notice that Christmas is in no way connected to things going well. In fact, as we can see from numerous texts, Christmas is typically set in dark and difficult situations. The message of Christmas is that God is still at work in such times accomplishing salvation for His people. This is why there is hope and why we can be merry despite what may be happening around us.

One place we see this is in the familiar Christmas story in Luke 2. The chapter opens by stating that the pagan Roman emperor had decreed that people would have to register for tax purposes. This would certainly not have been received as good news by Jewish people in that time. First of all, what government requires registration for taxes in order to decrease taxes? This decree would have been an odious reminder of their subjugation under pagan rule. This decree was a symbol of oppression. They were not free and had to pay high taxes to far away rulers who served idols. Furthermore they would have to return to their hometowns in a day when travel was difficult and costly. For those like Joseph’s family who had to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem, this would be a long journey which would interrupt work (and thus pay) and exact a toll on the family.

It is highly likely that this decree of Caesar’s would have been met with protest among the Jews of the day. Some may have cried out, Where is God? Why does He allow us to be so mistreated? When will he deliver us? Does he care? Has he forgotten us? Is our suffering hidden from God?”

What they could not know was that God was right there working through this hateful decree to bring the Savior into the world. God was at work moving the heart of this unbelieving king to make this decree so that Joseph and Mary would travel to Bethlehem so the Messiah could be born there in fulfillment of prophecy. The very thing which looked to them like evidence of oppression was actually the beginning of deliverance. What looked like the absence of God was preparation for the incarnation, Immanuel, “God with us”. When God seemed most absent, He was there working as He often does, in the dark, accomplishing the deliverance of His people.

This is fruitful to ponder and apply to our own lives. Christmas is not the pretense that all is well now. Such pretense is a sham and people see through it as Scrooge did. No, Christmas is the blessed assurance that God is still at work redeeming His people. It is the reminder that God accomplishes salvation even when it looks bad. This gives us hope and points us forward to the coming day when God will make all things right. With this truth in mind we can celebrate in hope and declare our hope and joy as a statement of faith.
My Thoughts
[or some of them]
It's so easy when times are going the "right" way [also known as my way], for me to see God's hand behind it all. When things aren't going my way though, it's easy for me to cry out right along with Isreal "Where is God? Does he even care? Has he forgotten me?"

Maybe this is just me--but I don't always trust God. I don't always have faith that he has a plan for me and my life, that no matter what happens, and no matter what I do--I can't be plucked out of his hand and nothing can thwart his love for me. There are times I can imagine God throwing his hands up in the air exclaiming to all of heaven, "I give up! Ming's hopeless! She'll never get it! She just won't learn, she keeps screwing up, and I'm done!"

It doesn't make sense to me, it doesn't seem realistic-- that when God seems absent in my life--that he's still there working in the dark, behind the curtain--still intimately involved in my life, still chasing me relentlessly with his unfailing love.

It also doesn't make sense that the things that make my heart ache and my soul cry out in anguish--are the things that God can still use for His Glory and my good. Even if it doesn't look like it in the moment.

Some of you know--others of you don't, what this last year of my life has looked like. Some of you have most of the story, others just speculation ;). lol Let's just say it's been an interesting year to say the least. I've snuck around, lied, made plans that were somewhat impulsive [=P], and have done stuff I never thought I would have done--and been in situations that I really would not have chosen to be in if I had, had any say in it. I've lost some of my closest friends and caused pain to many people.

Why do we so appreciate people who are completely honest about their failings, but yet it's like pulling teeth to admit our own shortcomings? [at least that's how I am]

Honestly right now where I am. I'm just done. I just want to know exactly what God wants to do with me and with my life. I know the beginning of the story and I know how the story ends. I'm tired of not knowing the middle though.

I just want to sit at the feet of my God and listen to him and what he has to tell me. I want to know my identity in Christ and I want to live in accordance to the person that I am now. I want to climb in to my Fathers lap, rest my head on his chest and soak in His presence.

I don't want to think. I don't want to worry. I don't want to fear. I don't want to care about what people think about me. I just want to know the blessed assurance that Jesus is mine. I want eternal life, what is eternal life? Knowing God. Therefore I want to know God.

I don't want to know of God though--I know of God and I know alot about him too. No I want to really really know him.

And I want knowing him to radically transform my life. I want to live a crazy life that only makes sense in God is real.

[I'm sorry if this makes no sense my head is kind of all over the place right now.]

1 comment:

Brian said...

I ran across this quote from Charles Spurgeon. "The refiner is never very far from the mouth of the furnace when his gold is in the fire."

It is interesting how he uses, "Our pains in life" to draw him nearer to himself for his glory.

Grace and peace,