Emmanuel

Emmanuel

From the Authors

“Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,img_20151225_095924089_hdr and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.” ~Matthew 1:23

Emmanuel; God is with us.

Matthew 1 is pretty great. I know I didn’t always have an appreciation of the genealogy of Jesus. I just really liked the end of the chapter; the name Emmanuel- the thought that God came down to be with us. I always liked that.

But the story isn’t just about that 1 night in Bethlehem. It’s not even about the next thirty some years of Jesus life. (Though without Jesus’ life, the story wouldn’t have any point at all.) But the story starts way back at the beginning before there was time. God has always always been preparing and making a way for us to be together with Him.

And His Plan to rescue little ol’ us, proves his sovereignty. Look at that genealogy in Matthew 1! Was there ever a better list of screw ups and nobodies? And God chose them to bring about Jesus’ entrance into the world. He chose them, so He could rescue us. It was His great plan. If you go back and read through the stories, you begin to really fathom the grace and love of God.

One of my favorites in all the stories is Jacob’s dream. Not so much because of the dream, as amazing as that is. Mostly I’m always interested in the beginning of the story where he lays down and puts his head on a rock? Why a rock? Wouldn’t the dirt ground be more comfortable? Then he has his amazing dream and…

Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it!” ~Genesis 28:16

I think that will be us towards the end of our lives. We will look back at all that God has done and finally realize He was with us the whole time. And we will say, “Surely the Lord has been with us- and we did not even know it!”

Because the Lords’ love is greater than we could ever fathom:

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~Romans 8:38-39

So go to your Christmas Eve service, and hear the story again. And may you be blessed to find something new and fresh about who God is and what He is doing in your life!

Merry Christmas!

Lord God, help us to see you at work in our lives right now. We don’t want to be like Jacob, realizing you were with us only after the fact. Help us to stand before you open-handed and with open hearts, ready to receive all the gifts you have for us. We thank you so much for the most awesome gift you’ve given of Jesus. At this time of year we remember how good you are and rejoice. But we also know that Easter will come, and that there was a sacrifice that had to be made on our behalf. Help us to truly treasure the gift you have given- Yourself, and Your Love. Thank you, Jesus. Amen!

The Lost Art of Waiting

The Lost Art of Waiting

Inspiration

Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. ~Psalm 27:14

The next morning, after decorating the tree. These two like to play musical chairs with the ornaments.
The next morning, after decorating the tree. These two like to play musical chairs with the ornaments.

We got our Christmas tree up! And as soon as the tree was up, the kids were asking every five minutes when we could decorate the tree. I explained how we had to wait. When asked why, I wasn’t really sure. I just remember Dad always saying something about letting the branches settle. My daughter watched the tree intently for a few minutes and then said, “The branches aren’t doing anything. Can we decorate the tree now??”

The next day (unable to take the pestering any longer) we decorated the tree. As soon as the tree was decorated, the kids ran to their rooms and disappeared for quite a bit- only reappearing from time to time asking for paper, a box, and some tape. My eldest was the first to emerge from his room with presents wrapped in printer paper that he’d colored on. A few minutes later and my daughter followed suit. They just couldn’t wait to put presents under the tree.

If you are a parent, you can already guess where this is going. “When can we open the presents!?” I was peppered with similar questions like a goose on waterfowl opener. I kept responding with, “We have to wait.” So of course they wanted to know why we wait, and I didn’t have a really good answer. I am just as bad, as soon as we put the presents under the tree I want to let the kids open them. I want to see those delighted little faces.

By the time my husband came home, I’m pretty sure I looked like I’d crawled through a bush backwards. The words, “Why do we have to wait?” were echoing in my head and I might have been drooling a little.

Why do we have to wait?

And maybe more importantly, why are we so terrible at waiting?

I don’t have to look far for an answer. My cell phone is sitting on the desk next to me while I type this. I don’t really think we wait anymore. Even if I’m at the DMV and need to wait for a half hour, I can email and make phone calls and get things done. I could even watch a movie or play a game. There is no waiting. No quiet time for reflection. Our society is a get-it-now, fix-it-fast society. It seems like a good idea… but…

If you want concrete proof that knowing how to wait is good, then google “The Marshmallow Test.” There was a study done in the late 60s, early 70s. Kids were given a marshmallow and told they could have that marshmallow now, but the adult would leave the room and if they waited until the adult returned, then they could have two marshmallows. Hilarity ensued. But the kids who were able to wait (“to delay gratification”) later in life did better on SATs and more. Interesting…

So partly because of these reflections, and also just because I need a little help- I’ve been making my kids wait (bwahahaha!)*. Instead of dragging them all out the door and into the car, I send them out first where they wait for me to gather the last of our supplies and then come out composed and happy (compared to the old version of yelling and frazzled). Just little things that help them work out what it is to wait for someone or something.

So, again I ask, is it important to know how to wait?

What does this look like for us, for our children? Is it important to know how to choose to be joyful instead of impatient? Is it important to know how to react kindly instead of selfishly? Is it important to know how to sit quietly instead of loudly complaining?

Because we can easily forget that we are a waiting people. Yes, Jesus already came and rescued the world, but we are waiting for his return. Our friends and neighbors are looking at us as an example of Christ. And we are walking through a world full of hurt and pain, and we are waiting for that promised future. So how do we want to show our friends and neighbors that we are a waiting and hopeful people? That we are trusting that God is who he says he is. That we believe in His Word.

How do we show that we are waiting, and full of hope and love?

Lord, this is not the season of presents and busy. This is a season for quiet reflection for what you have done. This is the season for hope and peace. The lights and noise can distract, the busy schedules can almost crush us at times. Forgive us for not having our priorities in order. And for those of us hurting through this season, who are grieving the loss of a loved one and missing those who are no longer on this earth- bring your comfort and joy afresh. Help us to seek out the only One who is going to really be able to heal and fill our hearts. I pray that our relationship with you would be like new, and we would be in awe of who you are and what you have done. In Jesus name, Amen

~Lindsay

*Yes, I laugh like that from time to time. Mostly when my parenting becomes ridiculous.**

**So pretty much daily.