Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Card Choices

I'm enjoying the trips to the mailbox this month. Everyday I hope for a card or two or seven.  I love receiving Christmas cards. To help curb my hypocritical nature I send them out. This year I mailed 200. It's excessive and ridiculous I know. Especially with Facebook, this blog, email, etc., people know what we look like, they can find out any ole day what I'm up to. Christmas cards are simply an indulgence.

Indulgence seems to be my Christmas theme. It's pretty pathetic. I've eaten more cookies, fudge, ice cream, and pie in the last 6 weeks than I have in the last 18 months. The seams on my skinny jeans are straining. I can hear my fat cells cheering, "M.E.R.R.Y. Christmas!" I could be really discouraged by my lack of restraint, but the last year has taught me that I can say no. I can choose any day to make healthy choices. Apparently right now I'm choosing sweets over sweat, sugar over sensibility, carbs over cardio. And it the grand scheme of things...I say,"big stinkin' deal." Life is a series of choices. Despite the cravings, the addictions, the habits, and the preferences we do have (for the most part) the ability to choose. When I'm ready to choose health-I will do it.

I want to address the flip side though. There are some things we can not choose. I'm acutely aware that this Christmas isn't easy for some of the people I love most in my life. While I'm here in a sugar haze, many people I love are dealing with devestating circumstances beyond their control.

I have dear friends who will receive my Christmas card full of family photos and happy highlights and they just might want to tear it up or throw it in the garbage. This Christmas they are dealing with divorce, serious addictions, or loneliness due to the death of a loved one. At some level I'm dealing with all of those things too. When you love others - you let the pain come in. And I can tell that I'm using indulgence as a temporary respite from reality.

Cookie comfort. I want more than that. I want to taste, touch, see and feel true hope. I crave the Scripture I chose for the back of our Christmas card:

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Hope Means Rejecting

I'm stealing the title of this post from the title of Gregg's sermon on December 4. His sermon that day had me nodding my head in agreement so much that the people behind me must of thought I was a bobble head doll. Near the beginning of service, Gregg read from Isaiah 64:1-5 (TNIV) And then he asked this question, "What do you want God to do for you?"

Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down,
   that the mountains would tremble before you!
As when fire sets twigs ablaze
   and causes water to boil,
come down to make your name known to your enemies
   and cause the nations to quake before you!
For when you did awesome things that we did not expect,
   you came down, and the mountains trembled before you.
Since ancient times no one has heard,
   no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides you,
   who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.
You come to the help of those who gladly do right,
   who remember your ways.
But when we continued to sin against them,
   you were angry.
   How then can we be saved?

I sat there in the silence and the first thing that popped into my head was a request for Alan and Brynn to make it back safely from the Bible Quiz meet at Twin Rocks Friends Camp. That seemed silly. I really had no doubts that I'd see my husband and daughter in a couple of hours, so I thought it strange and almost shallow that I'd be asking for God to bring them home. I scrunched my eyes tight and thought again..., "What do I want, what do I want?" God affirmed my more lofty goal of wanting to live more passionately for Him. Relieved that I had sought out a greater gift than simply the emminate return of my husband and child, I joined the singing of "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" with gusto. 

Then what to my wondering eyes should appear? Before the song ended, my husband slid into the pew next to me, whispered hello and let me know Brynn had already stationed herself in the nursery. Alan, here next to me - two hours ahead of schedule. I smiled and thanked God for his immediate and loving answer to the deepest prayer of my heart. He confirmed that it wasn't foolish to want my husband and daughter home. The Holy Spirit spoke intensely to me in that moment. God is so keenly aware of our desires and his joy is to bring us joy. I will live more passionately for God as I continue to know him more, to trust in his goodness, and to witness and share his faithfulness.

Hope means rejecting. Rejecting our doubts:
 I'm not praying correctly. 
 I don't know what I want. 
 I can't ask for that.

Hope means rejecting. Rejecting what is wrong. Rejecting the pain. Rejecting suffering. Rejecting poverty. Rejecting the status quo. Rejecting materialism. Rejecting perfectionism. Rejecting denial.

Hope means rejecting. It means seeing with wide open eyes the places and circumstances in our life and our neighbors lives that aren't right. It means we have a need for hope because we want things to be better. It means we know that each and every person on earth needs a Savior. 

O Come, O Come Emmanuel.