Friday, December 23, 2011

Be Still

"Be still and know that I am God." -Psalm 46:10a
The other night I woke up at 4:12am.  Yeah, I know, strange time to wake up...especially for this loghead.  I started thinking about all the things left on my list to do: 12 more presents to wrap, a few more gifts to buy, Christmas Eve breakfast and Christmas Day dinner to plan, shop for and prepare.  In the middle of these thoughts, the verse "Be still and know that I am God." came to mind, along with a vibrant dream that took my breath away:
Stillness filled the air. Rich, warm light flooded the open space. Stars broke through the darkness to shine like brilliant diamonds that had been strewn across a black velvet canopy.  Bearded men, who smelled of pungent earth, wore long robes and held staffs in rough, grungy hands. Surprisingly, they were on their knees. Yet it was their eyes that caused me to gasp. They were huge--wide open and filled with  unspeakable awe, humility and amazement...all at the same time. Tears slowly rolled down their beaming faces. I followed their gaze to see what had captivated them so.
It was was Jesus!  I had always thought the first time I would ever see Him, He would be an adult with a welcoming lap for me to crawl up on. This was a baby.  Not just any baby.  This was the Savior of the World...Jesus. Helpless to the passing glance.  Arms flinging.  Legs kicking at white linen strips of cloth that served as a makeshift blanket.
I was there. the manger...with Baby Jesus. As I drew nearer, I knew He was anything but helpless. My heart raced.  I couldn't breathe and my mind was swimming, shaken with jumbled thoughts and emotions.  My soul fell before Him, but my body was motionless.  I could not move. Magnificent rays of light streamed upward from the manger. Light, Love Eternal...revealed in this sweet, holy baby.
I could hear the words again:  Be Still and Know that I am God.
The Story I had heard more than a hundred times hit me like the north wind and awakened in me a fresh sense of reality at the miracle and magnitude of that one holy night.  I had seen God incarnate...Immanuel.  God with us.  Come to save the world.  To save me. To save you. My heart will never be the same.
Christmas has passed once again. Each time I go back to that moment, my heart stops and my soul is filled with an indescribable reverance and awe. A new year is right around the corner and I pray that it is not just another blur for you or me...filled with a billion things to do and places to go.
O Holy and Ancient One, I confess that sometimes the nativity story seems to fade in between the busyness, tasks and demands of everyday life. Yet You are the One I want to know more.  Help me to be still and know You are God...You are that sweet Baby Jesus lying in the manger...God incarnate, Immanuel.  God with us...with me. May my life reflect your beautiful Light into your world. In Jesus' name and for His sake, Amen.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

It's All About Us?

 "That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!" -Luke 2:8-11

Several years ago, Rick Warren came out with a major bestseller entitled The Purpose Driven Life.  It is a phenomenal book that God used to spiritually revive churches, small groups and individuals.  In it, we learned that "It's not about me." True.  In our "Have it Your Way" mentality, we do, at times, act, think and believe we are entitled to what we want, when we want it. Yet I, for one, missed a huge truth. While it's not all about me, I have learned that, through God's eyes and His heart spoken in His very Word, for Him, it is all about us. It. Is. All. About. Us.

God and us, that is. A profound, mind-boggling relationship that He designed.  When I stop to consider all that He great, how mighty, how loving, how forgiving, I simply have to stop before my heart bursts with wonder and awe at how He could love me so. Yet from the moment that Adam and Eve hid from God in the garden and He called out to them "Where are you?" He has fervently pursuited us. His passionate pursuit of us was the impetus for His ultimate sacrificial plan of salvation.

This plan started out with a sweet baby's cry that summoned angels to sing Glory to God in the Highest!  The same angels who were heartbroken on crucifixion day. The same angels who victoriously leapt and danced with joy on resurrection day.  Meager beginning. Horrific sacrificing. Triumphant ending.  Creation, Crucifixion and Resurrection collide and explode, forming God's New Covenant with and for us...Jesus, our Salvation, was born to us. Not just some of us. All of us.

Salvation wrapped in swaddling cloths was born for all people...from heathen shepherds to orient kings...from those we study the Bible and Worship God with on Sunday mornings to those who desecrate  dimly lit alleys or stand on street corners or lie in cheap motels. God's love story, written to us, beautifully speaks of God's love for us. 

I'm thoroughly convinced it is all about us...God and us.

As passionately as He pursuited you and I, there are others He longs to rescue.  You know, after the shepherds went to see Baby Jesus, we are told they did four things:

1) they told EVERYONE what they had seen and heard and what the angel had told them about Baby Jesus;
2) they went back to shepherding
3) they glorified God
4) they praised God...for all the things they had seen and heard.

So, where are the rest of us?  How do we find them? What do we say or do when we find them?

Father God, thank you for making a way to come to us and be with us. Though we are undeserving and unworthy, through the gift of your sweet Salvation, Jesus Christ our Lord, you have made a way for us to be with you forever. We know there are others your heart is burning to redeem.  Allow us the privilege and honor of passionately joining you in your pursuit of "the rest of us."  Give us enthusiastic courage to tell everyone what we have seen and heard so that you may be glorified and praised!  In the beautiful name of your Son, Jesus, Amen.