Cobwebs and Conversations

I was down in the basement the other day, getting out my Christmas decorations. For some unexplainable reason I had this surge of energy and thought to myself; “I think I’ll clean up the basement then next year it will be easier to find what I need at Christmas.” Brilliant!

I get that urge ONE day every year, and it usually results in a partially clean office, or closet, or spare room. This year, the basement was about to become the recipient of my good intentions.

I had no idea at the time; God was going to turn my burst of energy into a teaching opportunity.

While I was rooting around in the dust and cobwebs through the bowels of my house, In the back of a closet, I found some old clothes. You have them too, that favorite dress, or  a coat from a time and “size” long gone by.

Now, I try to follow that rule that says, “If you haven’t worn it in a year, then get it out of your house”. Still, when I had the dress folded up and about to go into my donate box, I just couldn’t put it in.  A voice inside was saying “Just because I can’t fit into it now, doesn’t mean I won’t someday”.

It occurred to me that I’d had that conversation with myself before, many times in fact. And since these old favorites were old enough to almost be back in style again, it looked like I had that conversation with myself LOTS of times. So with a sigh, I let go and into the box everything went.

Moses had his God encounter on the top of the mountain and the disciples were in a garden. Me? Well I was climbing the stairs out of the basement with a box of old clothes in my arms.  That’s when I heard that small voice of the Spirit whisper to me.

“There are some things you find very hard to give up on, aren’t’ there?”

I’ve walked with God for a long time, now, so I like to think I recognize his voice. It’s not some bright light. He doesn’t break apart mountains or burn up bushes.  It’s just this firm idea that once I think about it, it won’t go away.  It’s like when your kids “Mom” you over and over and over.

So God and I have been having a conversation for a week now about that box of old clothes. It’s gone something like this:

God: There are some things you find very hard to give up on, aren’t’ there?”

Me: Well, it’s hard to accept you will never be a size six again

God: Six?

Me: Alright, Nine. Are you happy?

God: The real question is, ‘Are YOU happy?’ You hold on so ferociously to something that matters so little, while you let go of important things so easily.

Me: I don’t know what do you mean?

God: Yes, you do.  Why do you miss a couple days reading your Bible and praying, call yourself a failure, and give up all together?

Why do you stumble in a sin, one more time, and then throw in the towel, convinced you are not worthy?

Why do you have a few arguments, and surrender your relationships?

Why do you give up so quickly on becoming who I know you can be?

Aren’t these things much more important than old clothes?

Me: Um…Yes, Sir

God: Don’t give up on us.

2 Corinthians 4:7-9; 16-18 : We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed…Therefore we do not loose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day, for our light an momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes on what is unseen, not on what is seen.  For what is seen is temporary but what is unseen is eternal.

 

Twas Long Before Christmas

Twas long before Christmas, before you and me.
Before ribbons and boxes were piled under trees.
The stars were hung in the heavens with care
Knowing mankind soon would be there.

The moon in the sky hung her pale head
Wrapped in the night like a blanket in bed.
When God in His Glory, along with the Son,
Planned out the gifts He would give everyone.

We’ll start with a dawn that comes everyday
Chasing the darkness and night away.
With every morning as life starts anew
A reminder to all, my mercies are too.

Fill up the earth with wondrous sights
Mountains that soar, eagles in flight
Children that laugh, and mothers that sing
A world overflowing with every good thing.

Tell me, what Father whose son asks for bread
Would give him a stone or a snake instead?
If we who are evil can give good things
How much more does the Heavenly king?

The Father paused, lost in his thoughts.
Something is missing. Something is lost.
He pondered a time, What did they need?
The Son stepped forward,… I think it’s me.

Ancient eyes turned, looked at the son.
Speaking his names, one by one.
You are Alpha Omega, Beginning and End
Their Savior, Messiah, Redeemer, their Friend.

To the earth you will go, born in a stall
Proclaiming my favor to the great and the small.
So unto us the Son was born,
Laid in a manger, used and worn.

Unto us the Son was given
Light of the World, the Hope of Heaven.
He lives with us. Emanuel,
God himself has come to dwell.

Dressed in humanity from his head to his feet.
His clothes were humble, his home not so sweet.
The beam of the cross would be flung on his back.
The gifts He would bring provide all that we lack.

His wounds give healing; his words give life.
The Spirit he brought gives power and light.
He taught to forgive and be forgiven,
Take joy in our life, and long for heaven.

To care for the poor and defend the weak
Help those in need, and always seek
Joy and peace, New Birth, and Grace,
Hope and Love, for the whole human race.
Wrapped in that infant, ever so slight.
That first Happy Christmas, for all a good night!

“I’m not going anywhere”
-jesus

Have you ever gone from the mountain top of joy to the depths of despair in what feels like the blink of an eye? One moment all is right with the world and the next, it’s a very dark place? That’s how I imagine Mary, the character in this week’s “God Story”, felt.

She likely was part of the Jesus entourage coming into Jerusalem.  She watched as the crowds lined the streets and lay their palm branches before Jesus.  Her voice probably joined theirs crying “Hosanna”.

When you think about it, it’s ironic that they would shout “Hosanna” as Jesus passed. By that time in history it was just an expression like “Hurray” or “Woo Hoo”, but literally translated from Hebrew it means “Save us!” So imagine, crowds of people lining the street calling out to Jesus “Save us!” when a few hours later, these same voices would cry out “crucify him” –Still, underneath all that anger directed at him later, even though the words were different, the crowds were still calling out to Jesus, “save us”.

After coming into the city, things went downhill. Jesus was arrested, tried, crucified, then died, and everything Mary Magdalene had built her new life on was gone in a moment. That’s where our story starts. In that dark place where everything she had pinned her hopes on had disappointed her.

She was alone coming to the tomb early in the morning when it was still dark. She didn’t feel the cold, she probably didn’t feel anything anymore. All her tears were used up, she was empty, like a wrung out rag.  Not having much sleep over the last few days, she was exhausted, going through the motions of what needed to be done. Someone had to take care of the body.

But when she arrived… the stone was already moved and the body was gone. Even though she thought she couldn’t feel anything anymore, this caused her heart to race. Hadn’t these people done enough to this gentle man? They beat him, they tortured him, they killed him, and now they were going to desecrate his body?

Not knowing what else to do, she ran to tell the disciples that Jesus was missing then returned to the garden tomb, alone.

Mary had been so certain there were no tears left. If that was true, why were her cheeks wet? Still, she didn’t care, she just wanted Jesus back.

“Woman, why are you crying?”

The voice startled her. Assuming it was the gardener and not looking she replied, “If you moved him, just tell me where he is and I’ll go get him.”

What she heard next changed everything. One word… “Mary.”

She thought it sounded like… It couldn’t be. – Surly her mind was playing tricks on her… yet – when she looked – it was HIM.

Like an arrow shot from a bow, she flung herself at him.

“Teacher!” she cried, touching his face, his arms his hands. Was this real? She clung to him like a man clings to the edge of cliff. He was real, not a figment of her imagination.

After a while he said. “Mary, You can let go.  I’m not going anywhere yet.”

What an experience Mary had! Many of us, like Mary, have found ourselves in a dark place. Lonely, exhausted, empty, and hopeless. Surprisingly, Christmas can be just that kind of time for many.  We are so consumed by the busyness of the season or painful memories it’s like someone has “moved Jesus” and we “don’t know where they put him.”

I challenge to you this season to, like Mary, “Cling to Jesus” – hold tightly to Him during this season. Listen and believe it when he tells you “I’m not going anywhere”. Read this story for yourself in John 20:1-18.

(As we explore how to Tell Your Story, each contributor will share a part of their God story with us. April’s Story is here.)

Merry Christmas!

We’d love to hear from you. Share with us how you keep Jesus front and center during your holiday season!

 

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