I’m throwing in the towel

I always have such high hopes this time of year. Regardless of what kind of year it has been, the next is always full of promise. It’s the fresh start I’ve been looking for. I can re-group, re-focus and start anew. I’m high on anticipation and expectation.

So I start to plan. I make lists of things I want to change in my life. I make lists of what I’d like to see happen in the coming year. I make lists of what I want to see Abba do. And I head off into the New Year with great enthusiasm.

But by February, the high is gone and my enthusiasm has waned. I’m now overwhelmed by disappointment and frustration. The changes I wanted seem impossible (what was I thinking?). The things I’d like to see happen aren’t anywhere in sight (people aren’t cooperating). And what I want to see God do……well, I can’t see anything for the discouragement and exhaustion.

What happened to my year full of promise? And why do I repeat this same scenario year after year only to be disappointed year after year? I usually end up throwing in the towel along with those lists. And try not to indulge in too much self-loathing as I ask myself: “Why can’t I do this? Why is this so hard?

But – one day I’m reading in Galatians and the light bulb comes on. Galatians 5:25 Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.

I think I may have finally discovered my problem. There’s way too much of me involved. I’m being Kim led – not Spirit led. I’m the one calling all the shots; listing the changes I want, what I want to see happen and what I want to see Abba do. It’s my agenda and I’m leading the way. I’m taking charge.

I’m also the one trying to make it all happen. On my time-table of course. Always sooner rather than later.

No wonder I’m frustrated. And exhausted.

Why didn’t I see this before? How many times have I read Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”? How many times have I sung the sweet little Psalty song, “God Has A Plan For My Life” to my kids?

I don’t need to make any lists. I don’t need to set an agenda. I don’t need to make a plan.

All I need to do is let Holy Spirit lead me into Abba’s plan for my life.

So I’m not waiting until February. I’m throwing in the towel now. I quit writing list of what I want to see. Instead of setting my own agenda for change, I’ve decided to ask Holy Spirit to lead me into Abba’s plan for 2015.

And because it’s His plan, I’m not in charge. I don’t have to figure anything out. I don’t have to organize or orchestrate. It’s His responsibility to implement and set the timetable. It’s His responsibility to power, fund and fuel His plan. It’s His responsibility to produce the changes He wants in me.

My part is to follow Holy Spirit, listen closely and then obey. That sounds a lot easier and a lot less stressful.

So this year, I sit down with pen and paper to listen. I will write down only what He whispers into my heart. And that will be my focus for 2015.

journal

He came as us.

Tucked away in the profound truth that God came to us is an even more astounding truth that He came as us. John 1:14 So the Word became human and made His home among us.

Our thoughts of Jesus are usually filled with His teachings, wisdom and miracles. We tend to focus on His divinity. But while Jesus was fully God, He was also fully man. He had a human body and human emotions, just like us. The Bible gives us a lot of insight into His human experience and shows that He subjected Himself to choices, difficulties, trials and heartaches by choosing to become a human.

For example, He experienced family problems. His family thought He was out of His mind and didn’t believe in Him. (Mark 3 & John 7)

He experienced loss and grief when His cousin John the Baptist was brutally murdered and His friend Lazarus died. (Matthew 14 & John 11)

He faced temptation. When He was physically and emotionally drained, the devil whispered lies into His ear, trying to seduce Him into walking away from God and His own identity. (Matthew 4)

He was rejected. The community – neighbors, friends and extended family who watched Him grow from a sweet little boy to a skilled carpenter to a renowned Rabbi – violently rejected Him. (Luke 4)

He was hated. The Pharisees and religious leaders despised Him, lied about Him, conspired against Him, and eventually killed Him. (Matthew 12)

He struggled with choice – choosing His own will verses the will of Abba. (Luke 23)

He experienced the heart break of betrayal from a beloved friend who handed Him over for execution. (Matthew 26)

He suffered humiliation at being stripped naked publicly. (Matthew 27)

He encountered excruciating pain as He journeyed to the cross. Torture and torment doesn’t begin to describe what He experienced. (John 19)

God came as us and faced the everyday commonalities of humanity. He lived the full human experience. Hebrews 4:15 says that He ….understands our weaknesses, for He faced all of the same testings we do….. And Hebrews 2:14 and 18 says ….it was necessary for Him to be made in every respect like us…. and Since He Himself has gone through suffering and testing, He is able to help us when we are being tested.

He came as us to be like us in every way. As a human, Jesus faced everything we face. He endured everything we endure. He encountered all the same struggles we encounter. Whether He lived it as a human or felt it on the cross, there is not one thing that we will ever experience that He did not also endure.

He did not come as us in order to figure us out. He did not come as us in order to understand us so He could relate to us or know how to help us. He did not come as us that He could determine how to handle us. He did not come as us for His education or benefit.

He came as us so that WE would understand that He DOES know us, does understand us and can relate to us. He came as us so that we could understand He is not a distant and un-involved God who is ignorant of our feelings, thought processes and experiences. He came as us to show us that He is very personal and relates to every situation and experience we could ever find ourselves in.

He came as us so that we would trust Him and follow Him to God.

baby

He came to us.

Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. My family enjoys this season more than any other. We put up trees, string lights and wrap gifts. We listen to Christmas music and watch cheesy Christmas movies. We plan and attend parties and events. And there is no shortage of Christmas goodies and eggnog in the Wahl home.

Sometimes, I get so caught up in the fun of the season that I lose sight of its purpose – to celebrate the truth that God came to us.

What a profound thought: God came to us. God – the eternally omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, Creator of the universe – came to us. The One who hung the stars, came to us. The Ruler of the ages wrapped Himself in dirt and came to earth.

He did not send an emissary, ambassador or representative. He did not send an angel or other created being but He came to us Himself.

We were not summoned to Him. He did not insist that we figure out how to get to Him or require us to create a path to Him. He did not demand that we find a way to Him.  Instead He came to us.

He came to us because we could not go to Him. Sin had created an abyss between humanity and God, separating us. It was impossible for us to cross this chasm.  So He came to bridge the gap.

He came to us because we could never do enough, give enough or be enough to make a way to Him. Nothing we could do would change the separation from Him. So He came to give all He is and be the final sacrifice for sin so that we could know Him.

He came to us because we could never find the way. We were hopelessly lost, wandering aimlessly, trying every path we stumbled across in hopes of finding Him. So He came to show us the way by becoming the Way.

Shrouded in darkness and hopelessly blind, we had no hope of ever finding God. So in His great love and compassion God came to show Himself to humanity, revealing Himself through His Son, Jesus Christ. In John 14:9, Jesus says Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father! God came to us in Jesus.

It’s the story of the Bible – God reaching out to man. Every page, every chapter and verse is the revelation of Jesus: God coming to us.

This amazes me. It overwhelms me. I can’t wrap my mind around it. I can’t begin to understand it. What are mere mortals that You should think about them, human beings that You should care for them? Psalm 8:4

It’s the miracle of the ages. The unexplainable phenomenon of the universe. The wonder of all time. It’s what makes the most wonderful time of the year so wonderful. God came to us.

I enjoy all the fluff of Christmas. But I never want to lose sight of the true wonder of Christmas – that God came to us.

He came to us