Tuesday, December 4, 2012

God With Us

I lift up my eyes to the hills—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
 the Maker of heaven and earth.
-Psalm 121:1-2

Daniel demonstrating the verse above while playing in a shed at the horse park.  :)

As the Advent season is upon us and we anticipate Christmas and the celebration of Christ’s birth, I am touched by this song:
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(Fun fact: I first heard this song at the women’s retreat for the moms of kids with special needs… And I had no clue Kristian Stanfill wrote/sings this song; I went to church with him as a child.  Praise the Lord for his witness.  And now as I am listening to it again, I had not realized that the song closes with the verse I shared above!  Coincidence?  I think not.  God must have this special word for us today!)

I particularly love these lyrics (with my thoughts in the parentheses): 
“My God will not delay. (Therefore…) I will not fear. (Why?) His promise is true. (I can trust…) My God will come through always.”

Christmas is all about waiting on the Lord.  Waiting for Emmanuel, “God with us.”  Waiting for the incarnational reality in our lives, desperately hoping it will invade each crevice, each challenge we face.  But are we waiting with certainty or with disappointment?

I assume there have been times in your life where it simply felt like God delayed.  I’m sure it felt that way when God was silent for the 400 years between the last Old Testament prophet and Christ’s birth.  It can certainly feel like that in my life, as we continue to wait for John’s full healing.  Hope fades as years pass.  Fear takes up residence.  Doubt creeps in and threatens to take over.  Can you relate?

And yet, we can look to the past.  We can borrow the faith of others.  We can cling to Scripture, knowing it feeds while the world’s meager offerings starve. 

In all these things, we are reminded of God’s faithfulness.  And deep down, we know it is true.   Last week, I had the great privilege of speaking at my dear friend’s church’s Sunday night service. The service recognized five teenage girls who are in the Acteens program, which is a group for 6th – 12th grade girls in which they grow in their relationship with Christ by learning about and participating in missions.  I was an Acteen myself and it was deeply formative in my life.  My dear leader is still one of my closest friends, and she recently started this new group at her church in Florida.  I shared our testimony with the girls and church members, both giving them a glimpse into my life as gangly, insecure, and anxious middle schooler and also sharing the struggles that blindsided us as adults.  I basically encouraged these girls to begin to make their faith their own now, to build a foundation that will carry them throughout their lives.  
With the Acteens and Leta-Fern before the service
I shared, "Because of my faith in Jesus that my parents, mentors in my church, and I myself invested in during those tender, crucial teenage years, I couldn’t run away from my faith as an adult even if I had wanted to.  By this time in my life, my faith was engrained into the deepest parts of my heart and mind.  Even though I felt like my entire life was crumbling around me and I wouldn’t be able to make it through another day, my foundation held.  Not because I am anything special, but because Jesus is stronger and bigger than even the greatest pain I could face."

His promises are true.  Therefore, fear shrinks.  God’s deliverance approaches, even as we wait.  We trust He will not delay.  Advent is here; our hope is never in vain.  The winds and rain may come, but our foundation is secure on The Rock.  The Incarnation always invades, covering my life and yours with divine Love and Peace… 2000 years ago as a vulnerable baby and today as Emmanuel, God with us.

(Medical and therapy updates coming Thursday…with more pictures!)

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