Rejoice in the Lord

That was my answer last night.

I was totally caught unawares as I sat in a midnight candle light service.  I knew I had been feeling restless and stressed throughout the day even though I was off work and had plenty of time to prepare.  I was going through the motions because this is what Christians do to prepare for Christmas, but the actions felt hollow and I felt disconnected.

There have been many in the recent days for whom I have been praying that have huge opportunities for our Heavenly Father to show up in their lives and take what is impossible with man, and turn it into what is possible with God.  In the midst of all that, somehow my own heart had been put on a shelf.  The restlessness and irritability I had been feeling was my heart trying to get me to listen to what it needed to say.

Sitting there last night with no more “to do” distractions I was suddenly weeping in the presence of the One who knows me better than I know me.  Caught unawares by the grief of 3 years ago when my Mom went critical with MRSA on Christmas night and passed away January 4, 2011.  Last night I so wanted to be in the moment of the joyous carols and extraordinary gift of that first Christmas, but my heart was so full of grief that there was no room to receive.  That made me feel guilty.  After service my husband had been so blessed and when he shared his appreciation all I could muster is I am so glad you enjoyed it.  I know I hurt him because I wasn’t able to share in his joy of the moment.

I’ve wrestled with this most of the night, unable to sleep.  I finally rose early to to just cry out “help me Father”  and “what do You want from me”.

I heard “Rejoice in the Lord”.  Not because life is pain and grief free; not because all prayers have been answered; not for any reason except that He is Merciful, Gracious, Slow to Anger and Abounding in Loving Kindness and Truth (Exodus 34:6)  and He is that way yesterday, today and forever (Heb 13:8).  I heard a wonderful quote recently from Bill Johnson “Wisdom is living life from God’s perspective.”  That is what my Heavenly Father was telling me to do.  Live from His perspective and rejoice. Here is why:

Celebrate God all day, every day.
I mean, revel in him! …
Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray.
Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers,
letting God know your concerns.
Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness,
everything coming together for good,
will come and settle you down.
It’s wonderful what happens when
Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
Philippians 4:4, 6-7 The Message

But wait a minute – what about the grief in my heart that is not yet resolved?  That is the just one facet of the beauty of God.  He is not black or white; pain or joy. He is big enough that all our hearts contain can exist in Him and not destroy us.  He beautifully describes that hope itself exists because there are things we have not yet seen that He has for us, and as we wait in hope, nothing can separate us from His love.  Below is Romans 8:23-39 with excerpts from both The Message and The Complete Jewish Bible.  I thought it was beautiful how the translation compares our not yet seeing what we hope for to being pregnant.  It helped  my perspective on waiting for what is not yet seen:

All around us we observe a pregnant creation.
The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs.
But it’s not only around us; it’s within us.
The Spirit of God is arousing us within.
We’re also feeling the birth pangs.
These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance.
That is why waiting does not diminish us,
any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother.
We are enlarged in the waiting.
We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us.
But the longer we wait, the larger we become,
and the more joyful our expectancy.
Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting,
God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along.
If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter.
He does our praying in and for us,
making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans.
He knows us far better than we know ourselves,
knows our pregnant condition,
and keeps us present before God.
That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives
of love for God is worked into something good.
 God knew what he was doing from the very beginning.
He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him
along the same lines as the life of his Son.
The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored.
We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him.
After God made that decision of what his children should be like,
he followed it up by calling people by name.
After he called them by name, he set them on a solid basis with himself.
And then, after getting them established,
he stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what he had begun.
So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose?
If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us,
embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son,
is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us?
And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen?
Who would dare even to point a finger?
The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—
is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us.
Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge
between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way.
The Message

No, in all these things we are super conquerors,
through the one who has loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life,
neither angels nor other heavenly rulers,
neither what exists nor what is coming,
neither powers above nor powers below,
nor any other created thing
will be able to separate us from the love of God
which comes to us through the Messiah Yeshua, our Lord
The Complete Jewish Bible

The Beauty of Hope Not Yet Seen
The Beauty of Hope Not Yet Seen

This Christmas Day and every day my prayer for you is – whatever sorrow, grief, challenge or unanswered question you or your loved ones may be facing that you may choose the wisdom of living from God’s perspective.  Rejoice in the LORD to open the connection to receive His supply for you.

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