Love is fixing me.
I have been reading a great deal of Lysa Terkeurst lately, on disappointment. It has hit home in so many ways and has been such an encouragement as I am well aware of those times I need to be fixed. At times everything gets out of sorts...my emotions, my focus, my expectations.
Christmas is a time of great disappointment for many; those trying to push through a holiday for the first time without a loved one, and something they certainly never expected they would so soon have to do. Neither is it any less painful or any easier to deal with the hurt and loss just because it is somewhat expected. Relationships end, people find themselves in financial straits and thinking “Christmas just won’t be what it usually is.” The disappointments loom large, maybe even larger at Christmas.
Sometimes it takes these very painful and personal experiences to bring Jesus and His healing touch to the forefront. For me it was just a matter of being able to accept a situation I could not change. I wanted very much to be willing, and thought I was until the opportunity to move back to my normal seemed like a very real possibility. When that didn’t happen I was quickly before the Lord asking Him to help me re-adjust my perspective, change my focus, desiring to be abundantly satisfied in Him regardless of my circumstances, and knowing that is His desire for me. I needed Him to heal my disappointed heart so that I could move forward.
I love Christmas, and I am so grateful that it comes this year at a time when Jesus is “fixing me”. Because all that Christmas is, makes shifting my focus so much easier, but I must choose. And it is a choice. You, and I, must choose to shift our gaze and dwell on the divine, not the disappointments. I am praying you choose joy, that same joy heralded by the angels to frightened shepherds, deep joy that a Savior was born. Yes, Christmas is about us and our need to be saved from the sin that enslaved us. The Savior came, lived and died, then rose again to bring us abundant life here and eternal life with Him when this life is over. Choose to rest in the peace that the gift of Christmas provides,the peace of a quiet but powerful presence, the very presence of God, with us. Choose hope, the hope promised Mary that she grabbed hold of that enabled her to accept her very frightening, confusing, precarious, unbelievable situation. That same hope is available to us. It is Christ Himself and the riches of His great grace, grace that does not abandon but overshadows. Yes, it overshadows all our sorrow, all our need, all our disappointment, all our confusion and fear. Choose to adore Him for this wonderful gift, a gift of unconditional and forever love that never disappoints.
Mary was told, “For the Word of God will never fail. Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant; let it be to me according to your word.”
Abundant satisfaction comes at the moment we surrender to God in faith, accepting whatever He is doing (or not doing) in our lives at any given time. For Mary this was demonstrated in a lifetime of hope, hope in the very child she had born, one day seeing him die for her as the very son of God, her Savior and mine. For us, it is sometimes easier experienced though, than explained to others.
In the mid 1980’s, Mom and Dad Harding (my in-laws) found themselves without a ministry, with no income, and facing the loss of their home and a move to, well, somewhere. We were there the day all their furnishings were auctioned off, personal possessions that could fit in their car and ours were packed, and a lock put on the house. They came to stay with us for a while, until another ministry opened up. It was a time of healing from the hurt and loss. But they kept joy and hope that God had plans. They eventually did find themselves in another ministry but not for very long. Dad’s health worsened and the Lord finally took him home in March of 1991. Mom was left alone. She still had her children, but they were scattered and living lives of their own, and except for Roger and me, not living for the Lord which was a continual heartbreak for her. But I remember hearing her the morning of the funeral on her knees in her bedroom crying, and praying a verse of Scripture from Isaiah, “Lord, please be my husband. I don’t even know what to do next.” (Isaiah 54:5 For thy Maker is thy husband; the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.) You see, for years, Dad had been Mom’s eyes. She has suffered with retinitis pigmentosa for nearly 40 years, progressively going blind. In Dad’s last years, as his health deteriorated, he had encouraged her to go through the training to use a low-vision cane and she had done that. Little did she know it would be guiding her as she walked everywhere after Dad was gone. And finances? Now what would she do? Well, the Lord had been working even when she was not aware and Dad’s time in the military would end up providing for her for the rest of her life because of an injury he had sustained that eventually contributed to his early death. The Lord put just the right people in her life that asked just the right questions and made the inquiries for funds that she would never have imagined would be available to her after Dad was gone. And now? After a year alone in Ohio, we were able to have Mom come to live in Beckley near us, in a senior independent living facility. And she did just that, lived independently for 19 years before coming to live on the farm in a second home on the property, the farm we purchased five years ago. After two major life-threatening surgeries in 2017, and a fall in July of this year, she is now living in our home with me as her primary caregiver.
Why share a bit of her story? Because Mom could have lived a life of self-pity, indulging in the lie that God had abandoned her but she has always chosen to see the good in every situation, or that God could bring from every situation, even losing her husband and home (Mom has never again owned another home). Mom is no saint. Neither am I, but she is an example of how God has a way of making a way for His children, sometimes in spite of us. Choosing to trust opens the door to being abundantly satisfied in Him. There continue to be daily struggles and challenges for sure. They do not just go away. This is not about finding some source of freedom from fiery trials. No, it’s about being abundantly satisfied in Him, living life by faith with joy that gives strength to keep living by faith with joy….abundantly satisfied in Him.
This Christmas season finds us under a great deal of pressure, dizzy from being pulled in different directions, having to adjust yet again to major life changes and roles. But choosing to accept what God is doing in our lives right now rather than fume or fret over it brings that abundant satisfaction. There are some tears no doubt, and lots of prayers, but at the same time confidence in His great faithfulness.
He is in the business of fixing the broken focus. He fixes me, every.single.time.
I can not but adore Him.