Whenever we consider starting anything new we are faced with the challenge of imagining what it will eventually look like. Lost in wonder, we find ourselves daydreaming of how things will play out as we toy with the logic of "if-then."
If we agree to take this new job in a new city, then what will our lives look like? Will our kids adjust to new friends and new schools? Will our new neighbors be as friendly? Will our new co-workers invite us into their already existing community? Will the pictures and ideas and dreams in our heads look anything like what we're imagining? Will we be satisfied with our decision?
Sometimes we don't even get a choice in the matter. I have a friend who had to bury his wife at far too young an age. His two school-age children were suddenly without their mother. He was without his best friend. Shortly after her sudden and tragic death he told me, "We have to adjust to a new normal."
He didn't expect or plan on this devastating loss. The valley of the shadow of death caught him completely off-guard. Yet here he was, standing on a precipice, wondering what life will look like on the other side of debilitating grief and despair.
He made it through. They all did. Somehow. That process was not without very painful dark nights of the soul. In hindsight, however, there is a clear thread of the presence and love of God.
Don't let your hearts be troubled
As we approach another season of Advent, the time when we wait in wonder along with the rest of the world for the coming of Emmanuel - God With Us - into our dark night, we are faced once again with the question, "What will this look like?"
If we were to slow down and allow God to capture our imaginations once again, then how would we experience God's presence in our lives this Christmas season? Perhaps our hearts would be filled with more joy and gratitude rather than anxiety and exhaustion. Perhaps our time with family will be more enriching. Perhaps our times in worship will be more freeing. Maybe, just maybe, we will experience the peace Jesus offers to each of us.
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (John 14:27 NIV)
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me." (John 14:1 NIV)
Macy's unveiled their new holiday window in NYC this morning. The theme for 2018 is: "Believe In The Wonder Of Giving." One look through the window reveals that they have no intention of connecting their syrupy sentiment to the greatest gift of all - Jesus Christ given to the world so that all may believe in Him and receive eternal life. That's unfortunate.
Hundreds of thousands will make their pilgrimage to the shrine of Macy's this year to worship at the feet of consumerism. But it's all good, right? Just look at the smiles on our kids faces. It makes us happy to make them happy. So we give...but at what cost?
I'm not down on gift-giving. Don't get me wrong. I like an annual subscription to the Coffee of the Month Club just as much as the next guy. I'm only wondering if there is something better to believe in. If we don't get the object right, then our sentimentality will subject us to the whims of self-serving sacrifice that may offer us warmth for awhile but leave us shuddering in the dead of winter.
Believing in the wonder of giving is like believing in Santa Claus himself. There's no "there" there.
Don't believe in wonder. Actually believe in something - someone - of substance! Even though I didn't grow up reciting the Apostle's Creed ("No creed but Christ" was our motto), I find it to be a rich expression of the foundation of my faith. Here are the first few lines, connecting us to the season in which we find ourselves once again:
I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord; Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit; Born of the Virgin Mary...
Wondering Out Loud
I've been asking the question "What will it look like" quite a lot lately. The prospect of building a "global Christian community that trains, partners with, and mobilizes networks of leaders to help children fall deeply in love with Jesus" has become the subject of my wonder. I've personally seen it working in El Salvador with our amazing community there. I've imagined the potential and possibility while spending a week with wonderful missionaries in Costa Rica. Even now plans are being made to start training there in 2019. What will it look like? We're excited to find out!
Thanks so much for all your prayers and support. I have much to be grateful for, and so do you!
Happy Thanksgiving and may your Advent season be filled with wonder!