Our holiday season was upended this year with – yep, you guessed it,
2nd time around for us. We had it prior to the vaccine, then again in December. I came down with it first, then Bruce, and just to go on record,
We were fully vaccinated!
But, from all I’ve read and heard, we were at the beginning of this new wave. We’ve always liked to think of ourselves as trend setters…
It derailed our holiday…we spent it with tissues, cough drops and the TV
It robbed our New Year visit with our kids. Our oldest daughter is pregnant with their first child and we had no desire to infect her. She works in a high risk environment and had recently battled the flu. So that celebration was postponed for a week. And of course as they traveled from Ohio to celebrate, our other daughter and her husband came down with the bug! As I write, my dining room has gifts to take to them next week once they feel well enough to visit.
For the past 2 Christmas seasons I’ve written about Peace and Joy. Love might be the logical next ‘gift’ to share, but that wasn’t the direction I was feeling this year. Instead I had in mind to write about
It seemed to fit the yearly narrative. When put into the context of all that has happened in the world over the past 2 years, the ability to keep on going (persevere) is a gift that we all need more of. However,
I think God wanted to be sure I knew what it was before I wrote about it…
One of the things I love to write about is the difference between an expected reality and life as it really happens. Especially as it affects people within the Christian community. So often, we come into that world thinking it’s a total solution to all of our problems and once we solve all of those, our lives will be fulfilled, rosy, happy and essentially problem free.
In fact, this morning in church one of our pastors made the statement that because Jesus conquered death he can conquer our problems. And as far as this goes, it’s true. And it’s comforting and encouraging to know that we serve a God who cares about our problems and wants to provide solutions for them.
What struck me though, is that it seems we’re never free of problems…there’s always another one for him to solve, fix and conquer.
As the morning went on, the sermon was about surrender, something else I love to write about. The only answer to any problem is full surrender to anything God allows or designs for us, even when we don’t know what that is.
Total surrender = loosing all control
We love to think we have control don’t we? We control our schedules, finances, environments and activities. But LIFE happens and we loose control at regular intervals. That loss often leads to things like depression, health problems, frustrations, anger, bad decisions in reaction to that loss.
The fight to gain control is often the source of our problems that have to be conquered over and over again
After our service, at breakfast Bruce and I were digesting the message (get it, digesting over breakfast, sorry…) and he tossed out this nugget,
“When we adopt God’s problems as our own, most of our problems tend to resolve themselves”
So, how does it look for a believer to persevere in today’s world?
In Ephesians, Paul describes an armor that believers need to wear, adopt, live with. It’s a wonderful children’s church lesson. Many a child has learned it by heart, It’s usually accompanied by a work page that has a Roman soldier in his tunic, all the various parts of the armor on the side, to cut out and paste on him. I memorized it in high school when I had a Bible teacher who loved Paul and taught him with passion.
But what stands out to me the most about this passage is the preface to Paul’s list of weapons,
Ephesians 6:15 (ish) “Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet.” MSG
The promise is that we’ll still be up, rather than defeated. Oh our armor may have dents, scratches and our bodies may be weary, but we will be standing! And hopefully we’ll be able to say that we fought the fight that was foremost in God’s heart…
The battle for people’s souls
I know there are other battles that are near and dear to God. We’re bombarded with them via Christian media culture, on a regular basis. (Side note, did you ever think about the early Christians? There was only pagan culture and Jewish culture in their day) And we tend to lean into whatever battle we’re fed through whatever source we embrace.
But I hope and pray that my/our hearts always remain ready to embrace the mission of sharing Jesus’ transforming love with a broken world. And to do it wherever it takes us, under whatever circumstances God designs, and to whomever he places in our path.
Total loss of control = Heavenly perseverance!
Belated Merry Christmas!