by Elizabeth Burgard Fulgaro copyright 2020
Oct 22 to Jan 6 reflections from an upcoming book for tending hurting hearts at Christmas
You do not know what the next moment will bring. As a child of the living God, you also do not need to. You are the child. He is the Parent who can be trusted to lead you in the right and good way. He is the Shepherd and you are the lamb. You are not responsible to get yourself “there”. (And where is there anyway?) Only He knows the Way. There is no possibility you can fully see and know. You are the child. (Never forget! There is grand, great comfort in this.)
Your job is to stay close to your Parent. (We call Him, “Lord”.) Your job is to look for and obey and follow the Shepherd. To not get distracted and wander off His path.
But even there He can be relied upon. That is part of the promise. Thus, an aspect of the hope. God knows you may get distracted and He will come after you. He does not lose sight of even one. Angels are dispatched. Evil is. (In exile here, not in heaven). Thus, the hardships.
We were created in His image. He does not dwell in isolation but is Trinitarian. Jesus in Father, Father in Jesus, Spirit in-dwelling. God is relational. Perfect relationship. With Him. With each other. Together! Forever. God design. We were then made for relationship, too. Only we are broken and imperfect in how we interact. There will be pain here. In despair we look for another way. We lose our way. We lose our focus. We cannot see! We wander.
He comes after us. He works through that which hurts here and lets it do some of the painful stripping away so that we gain more of His view. It makes following easier. We embrace the relief. We come to understand. Not unto defeatism of what is not, but the overriding hope of what is and especially what will be.
For God so loved the world. God is not unaware of where you are and how things are for you. He is still there. The view from here may be foggy (oh, so foggy). You cannot see what is coming and may not even have a clear current view. You do not have to. He is in the detail of it. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. He is working towards His purposes. He is not ignorant of your wants. He is not ignoring your pain because He made you to love. He has allowed His creation to remain subject to the evil one for now because it was chosen by our ancestors swirling into temporary exile because they decided to follow ( to obey) the advice of the vicious, different (lesser) supernatural spiritual leader. Not God. Adam and Eve put themselves under this wrong authority, thereby giving him authority over them. That is where we still find ourselves. It is less than. It is ugly. God knows. (Remember, He weeps with those who weep. He Himself went to the cross under this being’s faulty dominion!) God lets this evil temporarily because this provides us with places of decision.
You are either adopted by God or He is waiting for you to decide you want to be adopted. This is the precious decision point. Unlike human adoptions where maybe the parent chooses the child, here you have to make the choice. To be adopted by God the requirement is that you have to want Him. The privilege. The joy! The right to turn away from God as well as toward Him. For God so loves you that though you are already chosen and beloved by Him, His love requires you freely choose to love Him in return. True love with God forever must be reciprocal. Love is not love which is coerced or forced.
Will you put yourself under God again or not? Will you let Him lead or insist on it yourself? How well does it work to search for purpose, meaning and significance on your own? What progress do you make without Him towards living which fulfills and satiates with an effect and outcome which last forever?
You were born beloved by God. But for now you are under the adversary’s dominion. This is your captivity. Your slavery to that which is less and does not have your best interest or thriving at heart. It is the opposite. Jesus made the Way. Revealed it. He sets free.
Over the centuries, there has been much written and contemplated regarding why God allows evil when He is all good and all powerful. The partial answer is the necessity of this choice. The full answer waits until heaven.
Christmas fogginess dissolves and joy and peace arise when we realize this choice to be adopted did not have to be. He did not have to be a loving God. He could have been demanding and un-reconciling. He could have been a taker and not a giver. All-powerful. He could have coerced instead of offering. Enslaving instead of setting free.
For God so loved the world. For God so loved the world! For God knows the plans He has for you. For God longs for all to choose to be citizens of His kingdom eternally beginning now. Under His dominion. Which is bliss!
This is the true meaning of Christmas. Life is about your journey to God with Spirit through Jesus toward thriving for all of us together with Him forever. The rejoicing because the gate to reunion is open and Spirit is God-with-us here and now. The Shepherd leads!
You are His beloved, treasured, sought-after lamb. And He goes after every last and lost one. He cares for those in His flock even while watching for and going after the ones not yet a part. His arms are ever open. Always. He is running to embrace, clean up, bind up the wounds and celebrate each one who chooses to turn to Him.
You are a lamb. A sheep. A blessed follower. In following there is blessing! Permission to be small, vulnerable and feeling like you do not know the way—because you do not. A follower, not the leader. Not a mortal-minded reveler in Christmas rituals passing away, but a follower of Jesus commemorating His birth, what He did and what is yet to come. The One. The One who came and is coming again. God-leading by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night to lead us through. Holy Spirit communicating with you in a way He can be seen and heard (when you are looking to follow and thus paying attention).
To follow removes all stress. It removes all the have-to’s, should-haves and musts. Ongoing rest in Him, listening for Spirit’s leading and then simply following where He leads. Ongoing. You don’t need to see and understand and know it all. You are the child. You are the lamb. Just choose to be adopted and seek to learn to listen and follow.
Every day contains some darkness, whether it be the gloominess which seeks to press in on my heart or the uncertainty of that which is to come. But You are inviting me to live in Your peace in all these places. How comforting! Holy Spirit help me to learn how to sense and embrace Your peace so that with more of Your peace in me, You can flow through me more. For the healing of many hearts, for balm for mine and for Your glory!
3 You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You.
4 So trust in the Lord (commit yourself to Him, lean on Him, hope confidently in Him) forever; for the Lord God is an everlasting Rock [the Rock of Ages].
18 And therefore the Lord [earnestly] waits [expecting, looking, and longing] to be gracious to you; and therefore He lifts Himself up, that He may have mercy on you and show loving-kindness to you. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are all those who [earnestly] wait for Him, who expect and look and long for Him [for His victory, His favor, His love, His peace, His joy, and His matchless, unbroken companionship]!
SONG Recommended: BE NOT AFRAID–So You Sent Your Son album
If you are just joining in these reflections, read the Introduction here to learn what these are all about.
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