December 28, 2011

2012: The Year of Watching

Christmas has come and gone, but we are still watching. Watching not for the Babe in the manger, but for Jehovah Jireh.

And we have seen the work of His hands.

One week after our benefits were terminated, the One who is Faithful and True has sustained us far more abundantly than our petitions and thoughts.  My feeble faith is no match for Him. His goodness has reduced me to tears time and time again in these recent weeks.

I can't believe this is me, living this life and walking this path. If I think about it too long, I panic. Then I remember

Keep watching...


I think back on the first yearly theme, which prepared us to leave our old life. We didn't know it then, but He did. The themes have formed the foundation for this season.




2008 was the Year of Peace & Simplicity
2009 was the Year of Trust & Obedience
2010 was the Year of Faith & Freedom
2011 was the Year of Giving

2012 will be the Year of Watching

I'm looking forward the blessing of sharing it with you.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. ~Ephesians 3:20-21, ESV

December 23, 2011

Christmas is for the Watchers

I light the candles scattered among our nativities, and my soul whispers the familiar word that dominates my thoughts.

Watch...

As our family keeps watch, I consider how that first Christmas was for the watchers. 

Joseph, watching for a roof to shelter his betrothed, great with child. Watching for a place fitting to birth the Prince of Peace. Weariness from the journey did not deter him.  This night - this holy night - was for watching in awe as the Creator came to His creation, helpless and tiny.  

Mary, keeping watch over her newborn son and pondering the miraculous in her heart. Her song was sung long before. She praised God before her delivery. She praised God before her deliverance. This night - this silent night - was for watching over the Lord of All.



Shepherds, watching over their flocks that night. They worked though all of Israel groaned with the years of waiting to hear from God. Carrying out their duties as usual, not knowing that their lives were about to be radically changed.  Not men of much learning, but wise enough to leave the work behind and follow the Lord's proclamation. This night - this glorious night - was for watching God keep His promise in the most unexpected of ways.

Magi, watching the brightest star appear in the sky. At just the right time, it appeared to herald the incomparable work of God. Though they didn't have the Scriptures, they couldn't deny Him.  They left everything behind to find Him. This night - this wondrous night - was for watching God's brilliance overtake the darkness.



I watch the flames flicker, shadows dancing over the birth scenes. Despite Joseph's weariness, Mary's weakness, and the disappointing circumstances they found upon their arrival in Bethlehem - despite it all, God came.

And the world, not watching, missed it.

I close my eyes, think long about my own weariness, weakness, and disappointing circumstances. Then I glance again at the Babe, and I remember that God will come.

And so I keep watching.


December 15, 2011

Leaving Another Old Life

The books and the back pack have been stored away, for good.  My mind wanders back to 18 months ago, when a hard hat and steel-toed shoes were relegated to our past - we hoped, for good.

Here we are again, shedding the skin of an old life. One we'd grown comfortable in. One that brought hardships and pain, but also blessings and joy. Each scar runs deep, a permanent mark.

The flesh that was our identity these past 18 months is gone.

We are naked.

I am terrified.

This new flesh is tender, feels raw under the harsh elements of the world.

Did Jesus bristle at the hay in the manger the way I find myself bristling at having to do this - the watching and waiting -  all over again?

Did He pause for a moment, hesitant to leave the beauty and comforts of Heaven for this fallen world, as I am hesitant to leave the comforts of the known? 

I beg the Lord for sustaining grace, desperate for Him to quiet the cries within my spirit.

I ponder the story of His birth, each participant beckoning to me in a unique way. There, in the Word, I find solace...

...and strength to keep watching.

December 13, 2011

A River in the Desert

From my quiet time last week...

God often delays in answering prayer. We have several instances of this in the Bible. Jacob did not get the blessing from the angel until near the dawn of day - he had to wrestle all night for it. The poor woman of Syrophoenicia received no answer for a long while. Paul asked the Lord three times for "a thorn...in the flesh" to be taken from him, and he received no assurance that it would be removed, but instead a promise that God's grace would be sufficient for him. If you have been knocking at the gate of mercy and have received no answer, shall I tell you why the mighty Maker has not opened the door and let you in? Our Father has personal reasons for keeping us waiting. Sometimes it is to show His power and His sovereignty, so that we may learn that God has a right to give or to withhold. More often the delay is for our benefit. You are perhaps kept waiting in order that your desires may be more fervent. God knows that delay will quicken and increase desire, and that if He keeps you waiting, you will see your need more clearly and will seek more diligently, and that you will treasure the mercy all the more on account of the wait. There may also be something wrong in you that needs to be removed before the joy of the Lord is given. Perhaps your views of the gospel plan are confused, or you may be relying upon yourself instead of trusting simply and entirely in the Lord Jesus. Or God makes you wait for a while so that He may display the riches of His grace more abundantly in the end. Your prayers are all filed in heaven, and if not immediately answered they are certainly not forgotten, but in a little while they will be fulfilled to your delight and satisfaction. Do not allow despair to make you silent, but continue to present your requests to God.
~ Spurgeon's Morning & Evening (December 9th)

And so, we continue to wait...and watch.

December 8, 2011

A Sweet Reminder

What God did when he sent his Son into the world is an absolute guarantee that he will do everything he has ever promised to do. Look at it in a personal sense: "All things work together for good to them that love God" - that is a promise - "to them who are called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28, KJV). "But how can I know that is true for me?" asks someone. The answer is the incarnation. God has given the final proof that all his promises are sure, that he is faithful to everything he has ever said. So that promise is sure for you. Whatever your state or condition may be, whatever may happen to you, he has said, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" (Heb. 13:5, KJV) - and he will not. He has said so, and we have absolute proof that he fulfills his promises. He does not always do it immediately in the way that we think. No, no! But he does it! And he will never fail to do it.  ~Martin Lloyd-Jones

*Excerpted from Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus

Taking comfort in this sweet reminder today, and continuing to watch...