Only Jesus Remains– 50.Unexpected Christmas

by Elizabeth Burgard Fulgaro copyright 2020

Oct 22 to Jan 6 reflections from an upcoming book for tending hurting hearts at Christmas

 I had had unexpected expectations. Invisible ones of what life should, could and would be. Expectations which enlivened my mind with pictures of a wished-for future of us all together and how that would be. The problems which came would be simple. Pastoral. Like the beautiful scenes from 1950 and 1960s movies and family shows. There would be marriage and children and struggling to buy houses which had a picket-white-fence feeling of wholesomeness and goodness and only that goodness rippling outward. Of no conflict within those hallowed spaces. We would each be working hard side by side but together. Our well-lived lives filled with love for one another that never ended, was always supportive and never separated. This love working through the hard spots gently and easily with committed perseverance. A relatively smooth existence together of mutual support through any momentary troubles to ongoing ease and happiness between us through the years. Eventual old age then death. Beautiful, blessed rhythm.

 Ah, but has it ever been this way in the history of humanity? Or had my expectations become unrealistically shaped by the stories to which I was exposed. The pictures of marital bliss and momentary struggles which were quickly resolved. Before the end of the show. Only uncomplicated happy endings. All is well. It’s all better.  Dissipated like so much smoke.

Thus, the tears for the sometimes-broken places where I actually find myself. And not just for what was and is no more, but for what most definitely is not. At least not now.

The grief is not bad, but normal and right. And the realization as the tears fall, that to mourn where things are cannot supersede just being present to it. Choosing to no longer be surprised or shocked.  Resolved and ready to serve God even now. Because He was and remains there with me through every season. It was not He who set these untrue expectations as if a normal life had less troubles. These unreal expectations were my own making.

The need to be able to give thanks for what has been and be at peace and thankful for where things are because God is still there. This, even while being active and fighting the good fight for whatever He is calling me to right now. For if I let the longing for what is not or what is no longer overtake the God-rhythm in which I find myself, it could crush me. Then I would become crippled and ineffective for God, lying there in a heap.

Grief real and not to be denied. Yet, time to set wrong expectations aside. To strive to accept that which is versus that which is not. To come to those deeper reality realizations, but not to be beaten down by these. Aware. Re-galvanized.

Why did I assume it would be so simple? What loss to have been focused on a pretty life here according to my definition instead of taking up my cross in the battle for souls and letting Him use me. Looking at His life and realizing hardship, troubles, loss, illness, injustice, are the norms. Brokenness. This is a fallen realm.

What honor, privilege and exquisite purpose. To fight as God leads and empowers in prayer and through Spirit-led actions to be His presence with Him flowing through to mitigate the effects of this innate, of-this-world brokenness that still more are experiencing. In this way, the Lord uses each one of us with the other. Then when one is weaker and bowed down, God uses the other to lift this one up. Like Aaron and Hur did for Moses when the battle was raging.  To carry each other’s burdens and be invested in what the other needs like the friends who carried their paralyzed friend to Jesus and made sure he got there. Right, re-ordered expectations bring freedom, peace and a Spirit-ordered, Christ-love imbuing, rejoicing life.

Holy Spirit, lead me in the way which is greater and Yours. My heart requires Your ongoing, realignment. Thank You, that You work through my now to help me to see.  You lift my view. To see the battlefield. The hurting ones, including myself and You help me understand Your love increasingly. You activate me to Your current assignment. There is nothing also I could want. This is all I need. You take care of the rest. You are already Victor. Your victory in this battle for hearts who need healing through Your love (which includes me) will and is ever coming to pass. Selah!

10 So Joshua did as Moses said and fought with Amalek; and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the hilltop.

11 When Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed; and when he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed.

12 But Moses’ hands were heavy and grew weary. So [the other men] took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Then Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side and one on the other side; so his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.

Exodus 17:10-13

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UNEXPECTED CHRISTMAS PODCAST

If you are just joining in these reflections, read the Introduction here to learn what these are all about.

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Author: Elizabeth Fulgaro

I am a God-seeker--a Jesus-worshipper--a Holy Spirit follower. I create songs, devotions, prayers, books and Bible studies to give words with which to get to know God more. For you. Its for one-on-One encounter unto transformed, transcendent living. This is not my vocation. I am not professional. I am a real, ordinary person just looking to do what God put me here to do. (You have a unique purpose too.) So I am called to the work. It is not my income source, but my gift to those who find it blessing. Eagles Nest Foundation sponsors all projects for you. The result: pure, clean spiritual nutrition to feed that deep insatiable spiritual hunger which eventually overtakes each of us and galvanizes you to the life God has for you. This life is purposeful. Exceptional. You--yes, you--are called to something greater and more satisfying in His service. So it is hoped you'll try this spiritually dense nutrition and find it to be a personal blessing. However, the goodness of God-following doesn't stop there. He uses those who seek Him to be His love and care (justice, mercy, advocate, kindness) very tangibly in the lives of those around you. Not by your power but by His. His ideas. God ideas. Not just good ideas. To be part of changing the world, if you will let Him. You learn to just follow where He leads. That if you listen, He will teach you to hear His voice and then when you obey His inner promptings you will become His incredible hands and feet in this hard world. These materials will help! They will help you aim your life towards God in a way you never look back. You will not be the same. He will become the River in your desert spaces and you will become a conduit of this same River of refreshing, replenishing Water of Life to others. Find a prayer. Pick a blog post. Read a book. Be led deeper into the Bible. Select a song which resonates and use it and use it again to go close and ever closer to the God who longs to draw you near. Oh, and don't be tempted to think I'm a crazy over-spiritualized loony...My background is financial planning and counseling. Almost 40 years of it. To choose to believe in God is not to leave practicality and reason behind, but to learn that there is that which goes beyond it and includes it, unto true life fulfillment beyond all your dreams for the one who keeps seeking Him. I am a third generation Californian. I am a person to whom family means everything. The only priority higher is God. The foothills of the Sierra Nevada are my home. It is here the 1849-1856 Gold Rush is still glorified. Easy money? Actually only for the few. Even though I was raised in the Church, it took me ten years of doubting God even existed to realize that without Him, no matter how much of this life's "stuff" is accumulated, I actually have nothing. To come to know that all those who chased after gold are dead and all those who still chase stuff will be dead. That's when I became a God-seeker. Looking for that more. And Eureka! (This is California's state slogan and means I found it.) I found God...or rather, I discovered He was there and had been there waiting for me to look for Him the whole time. May you discover more of Him for you, greater flourishing life and greater flourishing for all in the world as well. God bless you! ~Elizabeth

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