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.
5 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.
6 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.
7 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.
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.
Not My Will But Yours
SONG Recommended: HOPE FOR THE WORLD –So You Sent Your Son album
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