by Elizabeth Burgard Fulgaro copyright 2020
Oct 22 to Jan 6 reflections from an upcoming book for tending hurting hearts at Christmas
The Holy Family did not stay in Bethlehem. Christ did not remain in the manger. The shepherds went back to their flocks and told others all they had seen, but also they returned to their normal lives. These necessary movements did not reduce the wonder of Christ’s birth, but ignited it. Christ’s birth had changed life trajectories forever. Where their paths would lead them remained fully undisclosed until, faithfully, they had walked out each step and it unfolded before them and then afterwards could look back to see. Then at the moment only He foreknew, God called each one home.
The invisible path before each of us now to be walked out in faith for as yet unknown God-purpose through all things daily. In the dailiness. Another day. Another moment. Another choice. Moment by uncertain moment (though certain to God). This moment never coming again. God-following opportunities offered by each one.
You are not given life’s string of moments to spend your time merely longing for the next in the hope that it will be better (according to your vision of what represents a good life.) Or waiting while holding your breath because you possess a promise from God which has not yet manifested. Or because there is an as-yet unanswered prayer beating with your heart in a relentless rhythm. Or because what has come to pass is not how you would have wished. Or because perhaps you are not yet, where your childlike heart so fervently longs to be.
No. You are called to God’s rhythm now and not your own. God’s rhythm of life where the only certainty is that He with you in it. Now. Then. Always. Forever. Where His care is there especially when you cannot recognize it. Your child-like spiritual eyes, unable to interpret fully correctly what you think you see. And know.
Here in this place once again He is beckoning you to be aware of this moment and thankful for it. Every moment a gift from Him.
No person from any generation ever lived a life that was free of wounding or free of troubles. Not one. Especially when what others have may look like the perfection you thought you were seeking. You do not know. Your outside view does not depict the reality of what life is for others. Their paths are not yours. Therefore, why does what their lives look like matter? Why should you care if they appear carefree? Your focus needs to be you with God and God with those you love and walking out whatever His assignment is for you right now in this moment—which you cannot expect will be bliss! For the assignments exist because here is a foreign land. The kingdom to which you belong is not of this world. You are on assignment. And there is spiritual war here. Yes, here. Where the spiritual battles invade natural circumstances and sometimes work their way through unwitting people.
And yet, God calls you to joy in this moment. To not be anxious for anything though tomorrow will have enough trouble of its own. So, there will be troubles. You can expect them. This is the norm. And it does not mean you have been abandoned by God. God in the midst. Emmanuel. Not just a romanticized baby doll in a manger, but a God who emptied Himself for love and is here with you still. He demonstrated that you are to expect troubles and He will be with you through them. Like Elisha’s servant Gehazi who could not see the heavenly armies who surrounded Elisha and him, how often are you unaware of the heavenly armies who surround you? They are there at God’s bidding. And surround those you love. Especially when life is excruciating and it is hard to keep going.
Thus, the choice, Christmas and every day. Especially in the midst of perhaps a more painful time. Be on your way as the Holy Spirit leads. The Holy Family did not stay at the manger. Their lives continued. So, does yours.
To stay or to go. The what, when and how. Lord, I don’t know the way You have for me, but clearly I need and want Your will. Your Spirit hovers and infills. You make me complete. Complete for whatever work You have for me on this journey on earth until heaven. With Your help my mind and heart can stay quiet. With Your Spirit’s guiding, I can take the next step along Your way. Your holy fire purifies. Your Spirit galvanizes. Your Living Water quenches revitalizes and quenches every thirst. You Yourself are my manner. My Sustainer, my Dwelling Place. My Savior and My Lord. Lead, and no matter what it looks like, because You are at my head, oh how I will delight to follow.
2 Until the day when He ascended, after He through the Holy Spirit had instructed and commanded the apostles (special messengers) whom He had chosen.
3 To them also He showed Himself alive after His passion (His suffering in the garden and on the cross) by [a series of] many convincing demonstrations [unquestionable evidences and infallible proofs], appearing to them during forty days and talking [to them] about the things of the kingdom of God.
4 And while being in their company and eating with them, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem but to wait for what the Father had promised, Of which [He said] you have heard Me speak.
5 For John baptized with water, but not many days from now you shall be baptized with ([a]placed in, introduced into) the Holy Spirit.
6 So when they were assembled, they asked Him, Lord, is this the time when You will reestablish the kingdom and restore it to Israel?
7 He said to them, It is not for you to become acquainted with and know [b]what time brings [the things and events of time and their definite periods] or fixed [c]years and seasons (their critical niche in time), which the Father has appointed (fixed and reserved) by His own choice and authority and personal power.
8 But you shall receive power (ability, efficiency, and might) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria and to the ends (the very bounds) of the earth.
9 And when He had said this, even as they were looking [at Him], He was caught up, and a cloud received and carried Him away out of their sight.
10 And while they were gazing intently into heaven as He went, behold, two men [dressed] in white robes suddenly stood beside them,
11 Who said, Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing into heaven? This same Jesus, Who was caught away and lifted up from among you into heaven, will return in [just] the same way in which you saw Him go into heaven.
12 Then [the disciples] went back to Jerusalem from the hill called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, [only] a Sabbath day’s journey (three-quarters of a mile) away.
SONG Recommended: SHALOM–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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