by Elizabeth Burgard Fulgaro copyright 2020
Oct 22 to Jan 6 reflections from an upcoming book for tending hurting hearts at Christmas
Being real. Aware. God-connected and not self-armoring, but letting Spirit secure His helmet over my mind and His breastplate of righteousness over my heart. Keeping my focus in these holy-days on His overriding purpose. Not on what I have tried to make this life, which is not and never will be the dream I had which can be no more. At least for now. This side of heaven. Instead, to be secured in His truth in lieu of my false expectations.
I am sitting before You, Lord, with an open mind and heart toward you. Please, help. Where do I go from here? How am I to be?
My entire life, I have wanted and believed and hoped and worked toward the ideal of a peaceful, pastoral, all-loving family existence. At some point in my adult life I came to realize that this is not the highest goal. And the very real fact, that many in the world—perhaps most—do not have this.
Yet, still for a time I squeezed my eyes shut and grabbed more tightly onto the idea of this type of peaceful imagined existence as high point and most important goal. Where God’s goodness to me meant a good life as I defined it filled with good relationships (as I experienced good). Joy between one another…
Yet, You teach me oh-so-firmly-but-gently that this was not joy. It was happiness. It could not have been joy for joy is not bound by circumstances or events but is anchored with an immoveable confidence in You alone, with eyes firmly focused on Your goals for life (and not mine).
This is the key: Your purposes for me and for others. Yours. So here I am with the image of Your birth before me seeking that. Your goals for me. Your goals for humanity. That which is greater instead of that which is less and has been my push and focus for so very long.
This brings me to the reality which I have worked for years not to see. I wanted it all to be simpler and happier! Yet fulfillment ultimately is not to be found through human relationships. So, remind me please. What is my goal? What is the aim? Not that human relationships should be ignored because you created me for these too! We are to love one another. But since finding complete satisfaction through these is mis-oriented and it births false expectations, re-orient me (again, please) to Your goal.
Ah yes, You are the goal. You are the only One who can give me what I need. Where I can be fulfilled. In You. With You now. Through You forever. Increased relationship with You, the Source, through whom all other relationships exist and are fed.
That adversary who I would rather think is a figment of imagination is ever real. He is seeking to destroy love between You and each person and between all of us, each to the other. His goal is to cause Your love to appear a lie. To alienate me from You. Beyond this, to fool me into thinking You are not who You promise to be and therefore not trustworthy. Ultimately, that I cannot trust You and must go it alone.
This was the original lie in the Garden—that You wanted to withhold ultimate good from Adam and Eve and selfishly keep it for Yourself by forbidding them to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Yes, that You were selfish. As if You were looking out for Yourself above Your care for me. For others. But oh, there is the lie. You are Self-giving love. Never selfish. Jesus!
The cross exposes all lies for the evil untruth they are and the unreality they try to place in my mind and heart. It is the cross which demonstrates the only thing ever on Yours: to love each one of us fully in the best way possible. Your cross nullifies the adversary’s failed attempt to deceive. You alone did what was required to return us to You. Before we ever knew You. Before we cared. You are not a God far away and oblivious. Not a God remote and uninvolved or self-seeking. But a God who does whatever is needed to enable Your children to come home. Self-cost. Self-sacrifice. Self-outpouring. Out-gushing. For the sake of love. Especially when I cannot completely understand. Yet.
Where does this view of You place me this Christmas? The higher goal is the Jesus-goal. To unite my heart to Yours. To orient my view to what You value. The most important. I want to be in You more. At rest. In Your peace. In Your love with Your joy emanating through. Your goals and Your way are my armor against the adversary’s attacks, which comes through my own thoughts and sometimes the words and actions of others. You loved all before we knew You. You gave all so renewed life with You (the way it was always supposed to be) could happen. You are still working through all things. At Christmas I can rejoice. I can revel. I can give thanks You are. And Your plan cannot be thwarted by any human misplaced action.
You are unchanging. Your focus is souls, inner healing, restoration, making all things new, ushering in Your kingdom come and Your will be done on earth as in heaven. You give us this day our daily bread. And You ask us to forgive others what they have done which has offended and hurt us as You forgive us. Oh, Lord, I do beg of you to help me not slip into the temptations of the evil one, but deliver me! Here is my heart. Change it to be more like Yours. Here is my life. Use it. To be like You. Following Your example. All lesser goals laid aside. Oh God and Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, not my will but Yours!
14 Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign: Behold, the young woman who is unmarried and a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel [God with us].
26…the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee named Nazareth,
27 To a girl never having been married and a [v]virgin engaged to be married to a man whose name was Joseph, a descendant of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.
29 But when she saw him, she was greatly troubled and disturbed and confused at what he said and kept revolving in her mind what such a greeting might mean.
30 And the angel said to her, Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found grace ([y]free, spontaneous, absolute favor and loving-kindness) with God.
31 And listen! You will become pregnant and will give birth to a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus.
32 He will be great (eminent) and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to Him the throne of His forefather David,
33 And He will reign over the house of Jacob throughout the ages; and of His reign there will be no end.
34 And Mary said to the angel, How can this be, since I have no [intimacy with any man as a] husband?
35 Then the angel said to her, The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you [like a shining cloud]; and so the holy (pure, sinless) Thing (Offspring) which shall be born of you will be called the Son of God.
36 And listen! Your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is now the sixth month with her who was called barren.
37 For with God nothing is ever impossible and no word from God shall be without power or impossible of fulfillment.
38 Then Mary said, Behold, I am the handmaiden of the Lord; let it be done to me according to what you have said. And the angel left her.
39 And at that time Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country to a town of Judah,
SONG Recommended: –BECAUSE YOU WERE BORN 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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