Courageous Thoughts at Advent

Luke 1:26-56 and John 19:25-27

For many years now sometime during the advent season the life of Mary, the mother of Jesus has had an impact on my life at just the right time.  In the last two years, we have had two brand new grandchildren come into the family so my reflections are often imagining what Mary thought and did on that night.  I thought of her “pondering what had happened in her heart.”  But the Advent story has led me to another lesson – a lesson of courage – by both Mary and Joseph.

“May it be to me as you have said,” were Mary’s words.  Mary willingly surrendered her life, her future, and her own dreams when she said these words.  This courageous willingness to follow God – whatever he would ask of her – marked the life of Mary from the very beginning.  Imagine the courage it must have required to watch her own son die on the cross.

Joseph also had a dilemma.  He had it in mind, the Scripture says to not expose Mary to public disgrace, but to divorce her quietly.  Then the angel appeared to him as well.  In essence, God was asking Joseph to be courageous – not to be paralyzed by fear or take the easier, quiet, more comfortable way out, but to be brave and face this decision and situation God’s way so that (and Joseph did not at the time realize) he would be able to name this child, Jesus, and fulfill the prophecy regarding the lineage of David.

If someone tells you that following God is easy, don’t buy it!  The Scriptures are quite clear that the opposite is true – following God is impossible in our own strength.  It is only possible for those who learn to lean upon God in faith and trusting obedience.

What part do you and I play in God’s plan?  Where have you come to the spot in your life where you have had to decide to be a courageous and willing servant without knowing the outcome?  Like Mary and Joseph!  When have we felt that we had to follow Jesus and submit to God’s leading as an invitation to transition from comfort to courage?

Do we, like Mary and Joseph reflect on the challenges we face and the impact of our decisions as courageous “May it be” decisions?  Can we count the potential cost, like Mary and Joseph – rejection, ruined reputation, condemnation, but still say, “May it be” and ask ourselves, “What is God doing here?”  “Where will I see him work?”  How will his plan be fulfilled through my “Yes, may it be” decision?

Is God asking you to be a willing servant this season – this year – to serve the one who intervenes in our lives in unexpected ways?  Is God asking you to be a faithful steward with your life without having complete understanding?  We all have areas in our lives where God is prompting us to make a move from comfort to courage.

I want to be a person like Mary and Joseph.  I haven’t been asked to do what they did, but I have been asked to be a steward of my energy, time and experience.  I have been asked to invest myself in his bigger plan with a courage that helps me face each day with its challenges, dilemmas, heartaches, and joys.

So – thank God when you move from comfort to courage. He always shows up and leads you through whatever you face.   And, celebrate and give thanks to God for the areas of your life in which you have had the courage to say, “May it be as you have said.”.

 

Resource :Twelve Women of the Bible, by Lysa Terkeurst. A Bible Study

A Meeting of the Mind and Heart

We are all on a journey…

One way that we know we are on a journey is that we look back. We reflect about what has happened before.

Often, the change of seasons, like summer fleeting and fall coming, with back to school, back to routine is the focus of our conversations. Over these days we also think about the future – the tomorrow.

I do have one assignment to give you to try as we move forward on this our journey.

Plan a “Meeting of the Mind and Heart.”

When our kids were little and because we had moved a bit in those years following my husband’s work, we found ourselves at the beginning of each season feeling like we didn’t know anymore where were going and what God wanted for us. We were both very frustrated. That was especially true for me since I was then home with the children. I had lost a sense of what my dreams were and who I was beyond the daily routine. We knew we were working toward something but felt stuck about how to do that with purpose and joy.

So, we decided that year to go out for coffee together (couldn’t take too much time away from the children) and try to renew a sense of where we were on this journey with God and with each other.
We spent a little time talking about the last year and other past experiences. First, we talked about the joys and amazing things that had happened, we looked for God’s presence in them and then expressed our thanksgiving to God and each other.

Then we shared our challenges – some of which we experienced together and some that were our own. We looked hard for where God was present in those as well. What sustained us? And, are those challenges still present? We thanked God for the presence of the Holy Spirit and other people who may have helped us through those challenges.

Then we spent time thinking and talking about what our marriage needed in the upcoming year. What did each of us need as a man and as a woman? We committed to focus on those things in the upcoming year.

Then we talked about each of our three children. We thought about their physical, emotional, relational, spiritual, and social development. You know, as parents we usually share our thoughts about these things randomly - after teachers’ conferences or play dates or conflicts with siblings or conflicts with us as their parents. But we don’t often look at each child in a “whole” way, apart from the busyness. We identified one or two ways that we could help them over the year to continue to grow healthy and whole.

What can a process like this do for your journey?

  • It can help you reconnect with each other
  • It can help you reconnect with your own heart, desires, hopes for the future
  • It can reminds us that relationships go through stages and they need to be renewed
  • It can help us stay supportive of each other’s dreams and hopes even if they cannot be completely fulfilled at this time.
  • It can give us a way to use what we have learned about our children to encourage and challenge. To focus on what they need from us that we can’t buy for them.
  • When we do it regularly – we will be less likely lose sight of our hopes and dreams and be more able to renew the journey we are on.

Things to remember:

Don’t make it complicated – let it evolve – each year we were more able to go further and deeper. Don’t worry about sharing your thoughts and feeling perfectly – just honestly and listen – just listen to one another. It’s about reviewing and renewing – not blaming and shaming.

If you are single or a single parent, get together with a good friend and do the same thing. We all need someone who can hear and hold our dreams along with us.