My husband called me out on it, more than once, I might add. I haven’t really been in the Christmas spirit. My nights are usually filled with watching Hallmark Christmas movies, and I can’t even get through one with my favorite Hallmark actress, and actor (Torrey Devitto… also known as crazy nanny Carrie, and Chad Michael Murray. Yes I am a One Tree Hill fan).
In a way I feel weary. As the year quickly comes to an end, I have been reflecting on my hopes and prayers that I had in the beginning of the year, and what has come and gone.
The year didn’t hold all that I had hoped. When I look back on what I prayed for this year, only 2 out of my 4 requests were really answered.
There is one though that I want to focus on.
Before we get there…
The year 2018 was rocky for my faith. I remember questioning God more than I ever had. I was angry at Him, and even got to the point of disappointment when I watched everyone else’s prayers be answered and not my own.
Ultimately I trust in His plan, but I really wasn’t seeing it. I questioned every decision made in faith, and somehow mustered up enough faith to believe that He was faithful.
What did you pray for this year?
And that lead me to one specific prayer request for the year 2019. That I would walk with unshakeable faith. And there have been tests. Oh yes, there have been tests. Storms, literal and figurative ones. There have been things that I haven’t understood. There still are. And this year is not ending how I anticipated.
And today I have to remember Mary. Her life didn’t go as she had planned either. She was engaged to be married, and then her world gets turned upside down when angel Gabriel appeared to her. A lot of times, when an angel appears to a person, the angel begins by saying not to be afraid, but this isn’t how their conversation begins. It begins by him saying Greetings favored woman! The Lord is with you. He continues by, yes, then saying Do not be afraid, but then, you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!
Blessed is she…
Although she was a women who was favored by God, I am pretty sure she never dreamed of actually carrying the Son of God in her womb, let alone when she was only engaged to be married.
The conversation continues a bit when she asks how it will come to be, but then says I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.
Mary goes to visit Elizabeth who is pregnant with John the Baptist, and Elizabeth exclaims to her You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.
And then Mary praised God with her song:
Oh, how my soul praises the Lord.
How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!
For he took notice of his lowly servant girl,
and from now on all generations will call me blessed.
For the Mighty One is holy,
and he has done great things for me.
How many of us approach uncertainties with praise? I have a hard time with that one. I usually approach God through uncertain times with more questions, than adoration. And although my faith stayed fairly unshaken, I will tell you there were many times that I told God this year (especially the last few months) that I didn’t have a clue as to what He was doing.
Are you questioning His sovereignty or praising His faithfulness?
In a way I was questioning His sovereignty instead of praising His faithfulness. Mary praised His sovereignty by remembering what He had done. She remembered who He was. She knew without a doubt that He was God, and He would fulfill His call on her life.
And as much favor as she had from God, her journey was hard. She delivered baby Jesus and placed Him in a manger, and then 33 years later watched Him die on a cross. This is not how you expect motherhood to go my friends. But when Jesus was born, even in a manger, and the shepherds came to worship Him, she treasured this in her heart.
God had fulfilled His promise to her. Her Son was born. But it was hard. Yet she treasured it.
When things don’t go as we hope, pray, or plan, do we treasure His faithfulness? Do we remember who He is, even when He acts in ways that are unexpected?
Do we praise Him when He guides us through hard times, while those hard times shine with His love? And would we call ourselves blessed when His call on our lives is in direct conflict to what our culture says is “good”?
No this year has not gone as I would plan. My dreams sometimes didn’t look or feel like they should have. This summer held transition for our family that was harder than we thought it would be. And this Fall left me as confused as ever on where I knew God was leading me.
But now as I reflect, yes, I was blessed. I was blessed in ways that would be unexpected. The blessings came in beautiful friendship, and sisterhood. Freedom from unforgiveness I had been holding onto for 20 years. Schooling for both of my children that fits who they are. God carrying me through the weight of my short comings, and showering me with grace when confronted by my biggest weakness.
No, this year was not what I expected it to be. But, yes, I have a lot to treasure in my heart, and praise Him for. He has been with me in the valleys. He has lead me through green pastures, and He has been present on the mountain tops. He has presented a table before me in the presence of my enemies, and has fought every one of my battles, as He says “be still”.
What are you treasuring in your heart this year?
As we approach Christmas, where do you find your faith? Are you wallowing in doubt, or remembering Him for exactly who He is, and praising Him? Are you laying down in a bed of uncertainty, or treasuring in your heart the moments He is giving you that are laced with His faithfulness?
Take time, right now, to reflect on the past year. Remember what He has done. Remember His presence in the valley’s, and His strength that is available to you in the battles. Remember that He is faithful in His promises, and true to His word. And remember there is purpose through every season you have gone threw, and that His love is strong enough to carry you through every moment.