There is a wide variety of emotions that show up this time of year... spurred on by memories of the past, and hopes for the future. Christmas time is kind of an enigma... hard to understand the full scope of feelings and emotions that come with this celebration. Of course the perfect joy that comes in knowing this is the time we celebrate God's plan for our salvation, is incomparable!
I love to hear the Christmas story from the book of Luke. I'm always amazed at how the angels came to announce this upcoming event to the different characters. I've enjoyed the many stories in the Bible, when God used an angel to bring a message to people He was ready to use. I have, many times, desired to receive such an angelic message to help me understand my steps!
I think of the angel's greetings to Gideon, Zacharias, Mary & Joseph, Shepherds, etc., and noticed that all include a similar phrase: Don't be afraid. This phrase reminds me of my parents' comforting me, or my comforting my own children when there was hurt or pain.... "shhh... It's all ok". This is a message we need to hear frequently in our journey. Whether we are a "seasoned" Christian, a new believer, or maybe not a believer yet... we need to know what God's perspective is - what I call a "heavenly perspective".
Since my mom died, (basically in my arms), when I was 21 years old, I have had a different outlook on life. I had a new realization of the fact that life is short - very short. I also was aware that my mother is now in heaven, along with a "great cloud" of others who have gone before me. This helped me to realize that this life is not all that is going on! I have tried, since my mother's death, to keep a heavenly perspective. Sometimes it's easier than others, but it does help me when I realize God sees things from a clear perspective, unlike my very clouded view.
I've noticed that the angel's messages in the Bible typically brought three things:
-Comfort in time of Crisis
-Clarity in time of Confusion
-Confirmation in time of Conflict
Just a few years ago, my sister found a note written by our mom, tucked away in her jewelry box. Mind you, this was over 20 years after mom's death! She shared that with all of us siblings. For me, personally, it came at a perfect time. A time where I needed Comfort, Clarity, and Confirmation. Here's what was written in mom's handwriting:
Let nothing disturb you. Let nothing frighten you. Everything passes away except God. God alone is sufficient. - Mom
I realized that God had just given me a message from heaven! He reminded me He knew who I was, where I was, and what was going on, and He was still there. His Word brings those messages over and over.
COMFORT: We are in times of crisis - as a country, as a church, and more personally as families, marriages, relationships... we need to know that God is still holding us, and saying "Be not afraid.... it's all ok".
CLARITY: During times of confusion... which seem to be almost daily for many of us! We are confused as to what is happening, and what is not happening.. what we are supposed to do, where we are supposed to go, what we're supposed to say, etc., etc. Confusion drains our energy, as we try so hard to see clearly what is ahead for us. We must remember that God has that clear perspective... the heavenly one! He sees the full picture of what is going on, and how this little "puzzle piece" fits into His whole picture. I'm reminded of the story in 2 Kings 6, how the entire Syrian army came to attack God's prophet, Elisha. Elisha's servant was terrified, as Elisha stayed calm. He asked God to open his servant's eyes, and as He did, the servant saw a massive host of fiery chariots and horses surrounding the Syrian army. There are more for us than against us! God opened his eyes, and allowed him to have that heavenly perspective. We need to have that daily, to be reminded that what's going on is much bigger than what we see, and that God is in control.
CONFIRMATION: Before the angels left their message recipients, they left them with words such as "Now go!...", or "Nothing is impossible.." or "it will be as I have said.." or "you will see.." Those words of confirmation are so needed to give us that push we need to take one more step toward the plan God has for each of us. Confirmation in times of conflict. We are often struggling in our mind, with the flesh & spirit, with each other. We need that confirmation, that assurance, that God has our back. He has laid out a plan, and is going before us, behind us, and beside us to get us through!
How was Mary able to make it through such a difficult time in her life? Or Joseph? or Gideon? Or you or me? Because God continues to give us those "messages from heaven".
Now, "go in this might of yours"! For the Lord your God is with you!