Only Jesus Remains– 56.Christmas Cross

by Elizabeth Burgard Fulgaro copyright 2020

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

Sometimes I do not want to see You on the cross, Jesus. I do not want to think of You there. It is too bloody. Too ugly. It is too much for me to ever want to grasp. I prefer to think of You as the cute little Baby with adoring angels, parents, shepherds and eventually Magi. Not the nails pounding into flesh and cracking bone. Not the blood now pouring out when where it belongs is in the Body.

So much easier to think of angels heralding the birth. Or the Child in a manger. A manger! Ah, how sweet. How humble. How darling. How small. How majestic! That the Son of God loved us so much that He didn’t care that He was born into poverty and a seeming lack of God’s provision that dictated His first bed be something out of which livestock feed. A box to hold animal food. (And then the Child of God.)

Yet, when I truly consider your birth, a message recurs. It resonates the truth of Your cross. Even Your birth was hard. You did not have it easy! I am one humbled by how you were born. God! King! Overall! Creator! My Master and Lord! Enthroned! Above and beyond!

I do not want to think of the bed you could have had or which I think You should have had. I do not want to consider that in Your wisdom, knowing the beginning, middle, end and Your purpose in all things, Trinity, did not enable an honorable place of birth to be provided for You in how I think honorable should be. There was no room. No miraculous provision of what it would have seemed you deserved. Merited.  These aspects already at Your birth showing us Your way.

You are not all about what I have been trained to think is important.  The reward of being the Good Baby, Jesus, come to save, was never creature comforts or proper accolades but the salvation of souls which is Trinity’s heart.

Your heart needs to be mine. This is what I want. I need to want it more. To yearn for this like water. Realizing how parched I am until, seeking You, You allow Yourself to be found and it is as if Your heart of love comes and now beats in my chest.

All lesser pursuits stripped away until only You remain and by Your grace I grasp once more Your purpose. But even more so Your essence of love. This Love-essence leads me to Your way which goes before and lays out mine. Your purpose and path before me. You bring the mountains down and raise the valleys up and build a pathway there, which is Your highway of holiness. This which is so different than what I once thought I was supposed to expect.  Less a rule-driven, have-to-do-today and more “Lord, what is your will in this now for your will always matches your way”.

Because You are the example, the stones in my path are removed. It becomes easier to walk. In my childlikeness, I can toddle along looking to follow You and not stumble as often. In my lameness and blindness, progress can still be made. (And oh Lord keep me mute until I can speak your truth fully saturated in and by your authentic love) For You show me the door by Your own path to the way You desire for me to go.

Long, the current life path was not the one I wanted. You begged to avoid Your cross, too. Yet, the cross was Father’s way (and You united Yourself to this.)  Have I as yet willingly tied myself to the cross before me, though it not be what I wanted either?

It is a war zone here. I can expect it to get ugly. You are leading through. If I will consciously pick up that cross and obediently follow You with Yours, though I may not see the connection, many will see and find their way on the last day to eternal reunion with You and bliss. Just as vitally, if I will look to You and observe Your path and follow You in it, Your love and compassion and giving towards wholeness for those around me will increase. For You are not just a God who came to give the promise of heaven but to improve lives here and now as well. The rescue of souls! The provision for them. The progressive, blissful inner healing. Your way leads through obedient suffering unto these outcomes for those I can see and those I cannot. Selah!

Lord, show me what to do and not to do this Christmas so You can burn in my heart more—illuminating every dark and dreary corner with the truth of Your love, crucified for me. Help me to look at Your cross and You on it. Your cross is my Christmas tree. I gaze at it where You are the light of the world, hung not as a decorating but as the one true sacrifice which shows me also what I can expect. The honor and hardness. Your victory overriding all which comes through it.

This Christmas I am aware of the cross before me and where Your Spirit leads, I pick it up and follow You even while leaning on You because I am just learning how to carry this thing. Wanting to do it in a way which I feel like honors You but fumbling and stumbling all the time, but for Your merciful, understanding love which keeps catching me and I am quite literally eternally grateful. I weep. You hold me and weep with me and together we stumble through.

In such a Christmas, I see Your heart so unjustly pierced for me and for each one. I see Your sweating blood at the anticipatory horror of it. I see You pick up Your cross and follow for the joy. This joy was the salvation of my soul. It was in this which You delighted and You draw me and all the others to Yourself even now.  Christ-mas. Christ-way. Holy Christ. Baby for us. Thank You.

Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Like these good figs, so will I regard the captives of Judah whom I have sent out of this place into the land of the Chaldeans for their good.

For I will set My eyes upon them for good, and I will bring them again to this land; and I will build them up and not pull them down, and I will plant them and not pluck them up.

And I will give them a heart to know (recognize, understand, and be acquainted with) Me, that I am the Lord; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart.

Jeremiah 24:5-7

11 For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome.

12 Then you will call upon Me, and you will come and pray to Me, and I will hear and heed you.

13 Then you will seek Me, inquire for, and require Me [as a vital necessity] and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.

14 I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will release you from captivity and gather you from all the nations and all the places to which I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I caused you to be carried away captive.

Jeremiah 29:11-14

Not My Will But Yours

SONG Recommended: HOPE FOR THE WORLDSo You Sent Your Son album

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CHRISTMAS CLARITY 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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