Devotion 1 from the upcoming book ONLY JESUS REMAINS-Tending Wounded Hearts at Christmas
by Elizabeth Burgard Fulgaro © 2020
Long have I known that the large family celebrations which bring me such heart-joy are not the main meaning of Christmas. Thus, in the undesired quiet of this particular Christmas season is very, very great blessing. I am working on writing these devotions for when you are experiencing a Christmas which doesn’t look or feel like you wanted, or our culture implies that it should. It gives permission for your grief to be real to you during this time. It gives permission to celebrate differently or without any of the typically prescribed decorations and manners of celebration.
Instead, you are invited to the most important. To the most essential. To be with Jesus. To come closer to Him. To spiritually approach Him more nearly.
Our customs have over-romanticized His birth. When you really look at Jesus, His family and the circumstances and conditions which surrounded the Nativity—including that which came before and after—you realize and recognize with relief, that the hard, sad aspects of your life are normal. Normal! You are not alone. In your troubles, you also are going the way of the Holy Family.
It’s hoped these devotions offer you a more beautiful, deeper and Christ-like Christmas experience. Full of comfort and positive significance even when there is still pain and grief. When that which you used to lean into for meaning at this time of year is stripped away and only Jesus remains, it is there you can be truly nourished in your spirit. You can be grown and become more grounded and founded in Him and that which is truthfully His way.
You are personally invited more intensely into the presence of Most High God, where He can give you the gift of Himself, encourage your heart and help you come truly to rest in Him. Peace beyond understanding. Joy. Tucked away in His truth, you become safe in the storms. You are comforted. As His lamb, it is as if you find yourself by cool streams of water with pleasant, lush grass to nibble and rest on instead of feeling like you are wandering listlessly through parched, desolate spaces.
Do not pressure yourself to have answers or grand realizations. Foremost, this is opportunity to consider your thoughts and let Him meet you in them. Let His answers come as He wills. In His timing. Like welcome, unexpected soft breezes of His Spirit.
What does He have to say to you right now? And how will you recognize He is speaking?
PRAYER: Lord, I am restless. I long for inner rest and have put my hope in You. I cannot do this myself. So humbly I am here, knowing I am broken on the inside. Please come and according to Your promises comfort, lead and guide me. I have deep need of You.
SCRIPTURE 1 The Lord is my Shepherd [to feed, guide, and shield me], I shall not lack.
2 He makes me lie down in [fresh, tender] green pastures; He leads me beside the still and restful waters.
3 He refreshes and restores my life (my self); He leads me in the paths of righteousness [uprightness and right standing with Him—not for my earning it, but] for His name’s sake.
4 Yes, though I walk through the [deep, sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my [brimming] cup runs over.
6 Surely or only goodness, mercy, and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life, and through the length of my days the house of the Lord [and His presence] shall be my dwelling place.
Psalm 23 (AMPC)
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