Monday, January 3, 2011

Nouvelle Annee!

I am like the Israelites.

That was my epiphany this morning. Realistically, it’s not a new learning, but was a small answer to a few things I’ve been chewing on a ton for the past month. Sort of the 2010 in a nutshell learning, if you will. For the last month, I’ve thought a lot about Jesus’ first coming. Yes, maybe this was partially spurred by the season, though I thought about it in a different way than ever before as the thoughts were filtered through the realization of shattered dreams.

For the first nine months of 2010, although difficult circumstances popped-up occasionally, my heart was more on fire for the Lord and stirred by his word than ever before. Then all at one time, it seemed like a collision of hard things occurred in my life and the lives of those I love: sickness, aging, death, hurt by the church, lack of answers, broken families, abuse, shattered dreams, loneliness, and dissatisfaction with my body, and struggles with previously wrangled sins. In the midst of these incidents that all hit in the span of a month, it felt as though the Lord had withdrawn his hand. I knew biblically this was not true, but I also knew he sometimes remains outwardly quiet while he changes the inside.

As I emerged from the fog, I was reminded in simple ways that God didn’t leave. From seeing a bear donation drive for Amazon Outreach (the ministry we partnered with in Brazil) at a random Starbucks to having one of my precious girls text me a verse of Scripture unknowing to its timeliness and truth for that moment. So I resolved to pursue him, regardless of understanding what on earth he was doing.

On to the epiphany… In my resolve, I dug deep into Jesus’ birth. I’ve always known it was different since he was born to a young, relatively poor couple in a dank cave surrounded by likely gross smells and being first presented to a bunch of seemingly random shepherds. I knew there was intense beauty in how God chose to bring him into this world, how it in and of itself pointed to the truth that Jesus is for all people, even the “lowest of the low.” What I hadn’t really thought about was how this was so completely opposite from what the Israelites expected.

They were waiting for second coming Jesus. The mighty warrior King to sweep in, wipe away the enemies, and give them immediate comfort and peace. Yet they didn’t understand the need for this first coming of Jesus. Humble, servant, sacrifical Jesus who lived a perfect human life only to die an excrutiating death, taking on our sins, to rise again and free us from that insurmountable bondage we were in, thereby restoring our relationship with the Father. They didn’t know that they first needed a complete heart change before they could live pain-and-bondage free. And that that change would likely be somewhat painful as refinement is.

You may think I’m slow, but it took me until today to realize I’m exactly like the Israelites. I wanted heaven now and missed the fact that my heart needs more change. Although I knew in my head I was still being changed, if I’m honest, I wanted to reach a point on earth where there would not be pain and hurt and shattered dreams and instead the King would wipe them away, creating heaven on earth. I wanted the end result while skipping the change, not realizing the change brings the end result.

I’ve found a bit of a theme song for this season of life called The Greatness of Our God, by Hillsong. Each lyric points to aspects of God’s character that he is revealing and making more real to me. Yet I know that I spend my life to know, and I'm far from close to all You are, the greatness of our God.

I wonder what change God has in store for 2011…

Speaking of which, I thought I’d share a few resolutions. These are the fun ones; I have some serious goals, but don’t feel like blogging about them. :)
1. Cook at least once a week while wearing a cute, Anthropologie-esque apron
2. Light more candles…I love them but rarely light as I never want to waste them; decided that’s a waste!
3. Read Tale of Two Cities and Crime and Punishment – two books I’ve wanted to read but have never gotten around to it
4. Redecorate my cube at work as it’s been exactly the same for about three years…needs some sprucing!
5. Redecorate my room, somewhat, to bring in more color; will likely mean pillows and curtain sprucing
6. Brush-up on my French…because it makes me happy

Bonne annee mes amis!