Tag Archives: grace

Torment, Torture and Terror

I started envying people who live in grass huts. Everything they own, everything they need in a small, compact place.

Our home’s closing date was looming just as large as the piles of stuff waiting to be sorted, packed or disposed of. When did we acquire so much?

move 001Never did I realize how taxing it would be – emotionally, physically and mentally draining – to pack up a house. Three weeks were filled with torment, torture and terror because it seemed impossible to vacate our home on time. Even a week and a half after the sale, I want to chase the quiet and just relax, but despite having the burden of packing lifted, my to-do list is long. It feels like it is constantly screaming at me, “Keep working. You have too much to do to relax.”

I am tired – down to my bones tired. I wish I could say I am also fine. But I’m not…really.

Life goes that way somehow. One of my greatest talents is organization, but I’m so disorganized right now along with being completely tapped out. I’ve been running on empty for too long.

My ever-growing to-do list probably looks similar to yours. Tell me, do you cross off an activity only to have it replaced with two more things? Somehow, you make a conscious decision to slow down, to enjoy life instead of being project-minded, to linger and enjoy, but then life crashes in and speeds up. In the end, it drags you along – like a raging river, you just can’t control the force.

There is a promise in the Bible I need to hear and believe, even more than I need a really long nap. You might need it also in the beginning of this New Year. Matthew 11:26 – Come to me all you who are weary and heavily burdened and I will give you rest.

I can’t honestly tell you the last time I slept well, but I can tell you I need rest. Come to Me and rest. Oh, how that word delights my soul right now: rest, rest, rest! What a gift from God. When I meditate on that verse, it is if He is standing right next to me saying, “I see you. I know you are tired. I know your body aches from all the work. I know you are trying to give your best to others in the middle of a chaotic time. But it is time to rest in Me.”

God provided so much during that time of hurried packing, cleaning and worrying. One of the greatest gifts was amnesia. No kidding. So many pleasant memories permeated that house. My heart was pained selling it. I dreaded closing day, of walking away from the joyous life lived there. Yet, when that day arrived, when the time came to drive away from the house one last time, I have no memory of it. Seriously!

It sounds silly, but He provided a means to slip away from our home without an emotional upheaval. And once we got to the hotel where we spent the last night in Chicago, there was time to savor the beautiful, crazy, loving memories of that house. God provided. It is what He does…it is what He did…it is who He is.

Just as He did mine, he understands your struggles. He sees you trying to make ends meet, of rising early and working late, of the questions you have – the ones that keep you up at night. He knows when you are scared, unsure and nervous. Still, He is always there beside us. We need only let our roots sink deeper into Him.

“Come to me,” He says.

In the midst of the disorganization, the exhaustion and the uncertainty, I’m resting in Him.

And all I can answer is, “I’m coming.”

Lessons From Your Favorite Christmas Songs – 4: Do You Hear What I Hear?

The Child, the Child, sleeping in the night; He will bring us goodness and light

An important part of a Californian’s Earthquake Preparedness Kit is a flashlight. This vital tool brings light to the darkness when all the other lights go out. Even without a power outage, there are times in our lives when it seems the light has gone out.

This holiday season sometimes has a way of distracting us from the Light that shines within us. The rush of preparations, the desire for a perfect holiday, or even the memories of past Christmases can accentuate both our deepest hopes and the fears that keep us up at night.

Christmas cannot be bought at the store. It cannot be created. Christmas can only be found in the Child sleeping in the night. Only because Christ entered into our world can Christmas be a time of great joy.

baby jesusAt our deepest level, we know Christmas isn’t about getting nice gifts – it is about the Light of the World entering into it and offering us grace. The light of the Star of Bethlehem meant God crawled into our world to heal it and mend our broken hearts. He loves us even when we don’t love ourselves. His deepest desire for us is to have more of what really matters – more peace, more joy, more love.

The Child who brings goodness and light longs for you to rest in his embrace. And while we may not be certain what our next steps will be, we can always be certain of God’s hand in ours. Christ gave himself to us in order to touch the wounds of our heart with a warm and gentle hand.

He knows us intimately, yet into those places we seek to hide, his light enters. Just like the light in the sky dazzling the shepherds, that blinding brilliance of the angel who brought good tidings to all people, his light is for you. You can always count on it: Jesus is the light surrounding you, illuminating your footsteps, bring warmth to every corner of your life. His light is always waiting to shatter the darkness.

Goodness and light – the Light of the World gave us the most expensive Christmas gift of all: himself. His grand plan is to conquer the dark and flood it with the radiance of his light and love. His mission is a wild and loving pursuit of us.

The child sleeping in the night would awaken. The babe sleeping in the wooden manger eventually would lay down on a wooden cross. And with the scars he bore on our behalf there, he would restore us. He would save us.

Lessons from Your Favorite Christmas Songs – 3: Count Your Blessings

The best part of the holiday favorite, White Christmas, is when Bing Crosby, in his baritone voice, sings Count Your Blessings to Rosemary Clooney.  The advice is ageless: “When you’re worried and you can’t sleep, just count your blessings instead of sheep and you’ll fall asleep counting your blessings.”

Everyone’s story in 2016 contains victories and defeats. Even if yours was countyourblessingsmostly packed with victories, most are hard-fought and include moments of difficult work, questioning if the end would ever come and times of despair when it all seemed too difficult. The defeats come with their own set of worries.

Christmas is usually thought of as the season of comfort and joy, yet the world is not exempt from sorrow during this season. Perhaps life has changed dramatically for you. A cherished relative or friend might be missing from the celebrations. Maybe you fear being alone. Or the time brings back painful memories from the past year – things you wish could be undone, but can’t.

Remember at the first Christmas, Jesus wasn’t born into ideal circumstances. Mary’s fiancé, Joseph, thought she had been unfaithful and wanted to break off the engagement. Probably to calm things down, Mary’s family sent her to live with her cousin, Elizabeth, for a while. And just as Mary was getting ready to give birth, the couple had to travel on foot from Nazareth to Bethlehem – a distance of about 90 miles. Mary gave birth in a stinky, cold stable with only Joseph to help. Yet the Light of the World made his grand entrance as a little baby. The glory of that night could not be held in. Angels sang, shepherds and wise men came to visit because hope, true Hope for the world, was born.

Life will always be less than ideal, so it is wise to count your blessings. Rather than focusing on what you don’t have, rejoice in what you have. Rather than arguing with your family, praise them for the gift they are. Rather that wishing for better circumstances, embrace God’s plan for your life. And rather than walking through suffering alone, depend on the hope Jesus gives as He walks through the valley with you.  Christ’s birth brought healing and promise to the entire world – no matter what the ache or longing, the sorrow or suffering.  That is the best blessing anyone can receive.