We are in the last week of the year.. that very interesting week between Christmas and New Years. 2013 is ending next Tuesday..which just happens to be my birthday. Growing up I really disliked being born on New Years Eve. Because people were busy celebrating.. I felt like it was a strange time to have a birthday..especially since everyone was already tried out from the holidays.
As an adult I totally enjoy having been born on this date. Each new year of my life starts on January 1st.. how convenient and New Years Day has real significance for me..it is truly the beginning of a new year. I can look back and reflect on 2013 and realize that next week there will be a new beginning. You can do the same thing even if you are not having a birthday.
God wants us to look ahead and expect great things from Him. He also reminds us to look back and thank Him for all that He has done for us. As the year ends and the new one begins we are can say without a doubt that He was with us. When everything seemed to be falling apart..He was there. When we were celebrating..He was there. When we were feeling hopeless.. He gave us hope. When we were filled with joy..He was the reason.
As we cross over the bridge between the already and the not yet..we can be reminded of the promises we have in Him. He has already come into the world and His kingdom is unfolding and yet we wait in anticipation for the things that are not yet completed. He is the Redeemer and we can rest in the knowledge that this new year will provide more opportunities for His redemptive work to bring healing and restoration in our lives and in the lives of those around us!
When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. (psalm 126:1-3)
That is the theme from Living the Christian Year for the third week of Advent. What exactly is meant by that phrase? There are references to the second coming..the time when He will return, not as a baby, but in His glory. No one knows when that will happen. So what do we do in the meantime? Can we anticipate and prepare for something that we may not see in our lifetimes? Sounds tricky to me.
So..as usual I take the bigger picture into account. The one that we live in every day. The story of God unfolding in our lives as we choose to step out in faith with Him. Our God invites us to be fully engaged with those around us.. not waiting for the day. God is here with us.. He is Immanuel. We are reminded of this in one of my favorite Christmas carols. He is working and moving and restoring everything in its time. If that is really true we can anticipate joy every single day.
You know by now that I am not saying that every moment will be joyful..but I am convinced there is joy to be found in at least a few minutes of every day. He provides joy in the midst of our pain and sorrow. He interrupts our lives with sweet moments that will never happen again. He surprises us when we least expect it. This is our God.. the one who created us and cares for us. Yes.. He has joy for us..Let’s anticipate together.
“All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).”
I hear the lyrics of a song going through my head..a song from a long time ago. It turns out to be a song that came out the year my daughter was born..1972. A great year for me. I wanted nothing more than to be a mother. I had dreamed of it all my life and was just amazed when it happened. That amazement continues to this day..only now I get to be amazed everytime I see my daughter as a mother..with three amazing children. God is good and He surprises us with things that delight us beyond measure.
The lyrics of the song are written here..
I can see clearly now the rain is gone I can see all obstacles in my way Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind It’s gonna be a bright (bright) bright (bright) sunshinin’ day It’s gonna be a bright (bright) bright (bright) sunshinin’ day
Oh yes, I can make it now the pain is gone All of the bad feelings have disappeared Here is the rainbow I’ve been praying for It’s gonna be a bright (bright) bright (bright) sunshinin’ day
Ooh – look all around, there’s nothing but blue skies Look straight ahead, there’s nothing but blue skies
I can see clearly now the rain is gone I can see all obstacles in my way Here’s the rainbow I’ve been praying for It’s gonna be a bright (bright) bright (bright) sunshinin’ day It’s gonna be a bright (bright) bright (bright) sunshinin’ day Real, real, real, real bright (bright) bright (bright) sunshinin’ day Yeah, hey, it’s gonna be a bright (bright) bright (bright) sunshinin’ day
I had to share it with you! Some days are just full of songs like this.. I’m leaving in a minute to watch one of my beautiful granddaughters dance in her ballet class! God is good!
God gave us the ability to cry. He created us with the capacity to shed tears. There is a reason for this..we need to release the pain. We must grieve our losses.. to feel the hurt even if it happened long ago. Tears bring relief. Tears are cleansing and tears bring healing. Why is it hard to believe this? Maybe because we don’t feel in control when we are crying. Sometimes it feels so bad we wonder if we will ever stop. Tears are beautiful reminders that we are human..that we need God..that our hearts are not hardened.
Some people hide their tears..some cannot shed any tears..some condemn those that cry. Children come into the world crying and we do everything we can do to stop their tears..maybe too much. Their tiny hearts feel things deeply..they are in touch with their disappointments and their losses. They know that their tears need to flow..they have not learned to cover up their pain. If only we could go back..
If we are to experience life fully..authentically.. not holdiing back.. there will be tears. If we are entering in without reservations..there will be tears. If we are following after Him..there will be tears. If we are laying down our lives..there will be tears. While we are here..there will be tears.
This is not the whole story..Thank God! There are times when we experience joy, peace, and amazing grace. Times when the sun shines through the darkness and we know all is well. There are seasons when we are filled with thanksgiving..when we sing with our whole hearts..when we know we are His. The journey is rich and rewarding.. the abundant life..filled with sorrow and gladness. Our life with God..a great adventure.
“I tell you the truth anyone who does not receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.”