Blink. Another Thanksgiving is behind us and the Christmas season is in full swing. Joyful songs playing 24/7 on the radio. Bright colorful lights decking all the halls, walls and malls. Lifetime and Hallmark TV movies make us think that Christmas is a perfect, well-scripted time of year. But for me, and many of you, it is a tough time of year.
You see, my life didn’t go according to my plan. I believed in happily-ever-after. Prince Charming. A quaint, ivy covered cottage with a white picket fence and a rose garden. I expected to be the cookie-baking, craft-making Girl Scout mom, cheering on my brood at ballgames, and displaying home cooked meals on a perfectly set table to an appreciative husband and family.
But my life didn’t go according to my plan. And no matter how hard I try it is a sure thing the Christmas season will bring reminders of my disappointments. I will be very aware that a tall hand cut tree is not in the corner of the living room being excitedly decorated by noisy kids. There won’t be chaos and laughter around the tree as gifts are exchanged on Christmas morning. I am aware that there isn’t a chance of a fresh snowfall covering the ground Christmas morning, blanketing the world into a winter wonderland outside my window.
My life didn’t go according to my plan. I endured many Decembers that I allowed the what-will-never-bes consume me. It was a season that brought new disappointments, because yet again, another year had passed and I was no closer to my dreams being realized. I marked off my single-again years on the calendar. Soon a decade had slipped by. And then another year.
My life didn’t go according to my plan. I am a follower of Jesus Christ. I know that God has a good plan for me. I wrestled for years with the Lord. He knew the desires of my heart, even better than I did…so why wouldn’t He fulfill them? Why did I continue to go through life alone, go home to an empty house…and endure yet another romantic Christmas season unchosen?
My life didn’t go according to my plan. Yet in the surrendered stillness of a willing heart, a glorious plan unfolds. His plan. Somewhere along the line I stopped wrestling. I stopped trying to manipulate and convince the Lord that my plan really was a good one. I just stopped. I surrendered. I opened my hands and released every single dream. Every single hope. Every single desire.
God gently revealed to me that I was chosen. He calls me His beloved. He desired to be my first love. One evening I went to His word, asking Him to show me how he loved me.
He chose me. (John 15:16). He didn’t have to, but He did.
I am the apple of His eye. (Psalm 17:8) He makes me a priority, He holds me dear.
He leads me. (Psalm 23:1-2) He will lead me, as my guide, protector and constant companion. When in the midst of difficult times, He will lead me to a place of rest and refreshment.
He holds me by the hand. (Psalm 37:24) He will steady me and make sure I do not fall.
He will watch over me. (Psalm 121:8) He is aware and protecting me at all times and in all things!
He sings over me. (Zephaniah 3:17) …No one has ever sung over me!
He rejoices over me. (Isaiah 6:5) He rejoices in me – His creation. His child. He is pleased in who I am.
He loves me with an everlasting love. (Jeremiah 31:3) Love everlasting, that means He will not reject me when someone else comes along.
He will never leave me or forsake me. (Hebrew 13:5) O, Glory! To know that I will not be abandoned!
He will cover me with His pinions. (Psalm 91:4) He is strong and powerful and will take care of me.
He is my shelter. (Psalm 91:4). He is my safe place when storms come my way.
He hears me when I call. (Jeremiah 33:3) He is not too busy- or distracted - to listen. And He will answer!
He bottles my tears. (Psalm 56:8) He cares so much for me that He even keeps my tears!
He is for me! (Psalm 56:9) He is my cheerleader! My encourager!
His vows are binding upon me. (Psalm 56:11) He will stay…for better or worse.
His face shines upon me. (Numbers 6:25). He shows me favor and is gracious towards me.
No greater love is that He lay down His life for me. (John 15:13). He suffered and died on the cross so that I would never be separated from Him! (John 3:16).
So, yes, life didn’t go according to my plans. But it is turning out to be better than I could have ever imagined. With my hands open in complete surrender, I am able to receive His complete love.
This Christmas, I will choose to focus on the greatest gift ever given: the love of Jesus. As I write my sappy Christmas newsletters that I will mail to friends far away from long ago, I will choose to testify of all that He has done throughout the year. The amazing, wonderful things. Some big. Some small. Each one a gift.
And as this year comes to an end, it is my prayer that you, my sisters in the faith, will experience the fullness of God’s love, joy in the midst of the daily routine, and rest in the Peace that surpasses all understanding!
~ Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. ~ Ephesians 3:20-21