Over this Christmas time we have tried to surround Floyd with love, Christmas carols, and special readings to celebrate the birth of Jesus. I’ve had some sweet times with him.
Some friends drove to Cape Town this week to visit Floyd. The husband had been with us in Colorado many years ago. We hadn't seen them for 9 years, but Floyd smiled real big when they walked in the door. We had a precious, tear-filled visit - and a very emotional time of prayer. I think Floyd's heart was touched as he heard how they have loved and prayed for him from afar.
I'm so grateful for the good, on-going care Floyd gets at the hospital he is in. It relieves my heart. Christmas was a sweet time for me, but also a very tender time.
During this second Christmas season of Floyd being in the hospital, I am focusing on God's goodness, the blessings in our lives, family, and friends. I have so much to be thankful for!
When I ponder the Christmas story each year, I always relate to Mary - on so many different levels. This year I've been thinking about the "load" she had to carry. She was being chosen for the greatest honor a woman could have - being the mother of the promised Savior. And yet it wasn't easy:
- her friends didn't understand
- she was faced with accusations of promiscuity
- she could have lost her betrothed, Joseph
- she had to deal with loss of reputation
- what was happening brought shame to her family
- and then when the baby came, there was no place for her to give birth
And, just think - this was all part of God's will for her life!! It wasn't bad consequences of something she had done wrong. It wasn't an "attack of the enemy." Nothing had gone wrong. She was being given an awesome privilege.
Mary's response was to say "for with God nothing is impossible - be it unto me according to your word." (Luke 1:37,38) One of my friends said - "placing faith in God's Word is the only way to settle our hearts when God's purposes are beyond what we can know."
Mary's difficult, hard circumstances were part of God's magnificent design and plan. He had foretold of it long before - "unto us a child is born, to us a son is given......and he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6,7)
The things you and I walk through in life - our joys and our sorrows - may well be part of the plan God has for us. My heart's desire is to trust Him like Mary! I want to magnify the Lord like she did.
"My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has looked on the humble estate of His servant.....For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. And His mercy is for those who fear Him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; He has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty." Luke 1:46-53
God graciously walked with Mary during this season in her life. I am so very thankful for how He has walked with me, with our family, in the season we are in. How wonderful and faithful He is!
Another thing that has ‘jumped’ out at me as I ponder over the Christmas story is the word joy. "Joy to the world, the Lord is come." What a different world it would be if He hadn't come! How different our lives would be if He didn't bring and give joy. I am so grateful for His joy.
It's only because our Savior came, and what He has done for us, that we can have real joy. Sam Storms, who we worked with for a season in Kansas City, said "Joy is not necessarily the absence of suffering, it is the presence of God."
I, and our family, have gone through a long season of suffering on a number of levels. It has been hard. There have been times when I've wondered if I would survive this season. And yet, beneath all the suffering and difficulties, there has been a joy in the midst of the suffering because of the presence of God. It's hard to even describe it, but it's there. It's way down deep. It's rooted in Him. It's strong, and it gives strength.
It's not a happy "feeling." It's not a giddy laughter. It's not magical. It comes from crying out to Him from the depths of our being, and telling Him we need Him. And somehow, inexplicably, joy wells up from within us by His Spirit. The weakness we feel in our suffering becomes strength as He pours His joy into our hearts.
This joy, that I find so indescribable, begins to carry us in moments of weakness. It brings healing, comfort, grace to persevere, and courage to face the next day. We can't push a button and get it. All we can do is cry out to Him and let Him release it into our hearts. I am so grateful that He comes and fills our hearts with a joy that seems in such contrast to what we are walking through.
"I bring you good new of great joy.....a Savior has been born." Luke 2:10,11
"When they saw the star they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy.....and then they saw the child." Matthew 2:10,11
"When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul." Psalm 94:19
It's only because Christ came, and because of what He has done for us, that we can have real joy. As the song "It's about the Cross" by Go Fish says - "It's not just about the manger, the angels, the shepherds, the wise men.....it's about the cross." He came as a babe so He could die on the cross for us. Because of that, there is joy! Thank you, Lord, for your joy.