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Redeemed by Belief

December 2018 was a bust – well, almost.

The first twenty-three days of my December were short on Christmas spirit and high on Christmas angst. The dominating thoughts in my mind revolved around shopping and sulking. If I wasn’t on a frustrating hunt to find the perfect present for every person on my list, I was most likely in a depressive funk. My mood was more melancholy than merry. Sadly, I must admit I was more prone to crankiness than cheeriness. To those who had to share a roof with me this Christmas season, I’m sorry.

Sadly, I know I’m not alone in experiencing a depressing December. When Christmas lights come on and jolly tunes are turned up every sadness and heartache gets magnified. Smiling Santas betray the despondent, mocking them at every festive turn. “Have a holly, jolly Christmas” doesn’t ring true. “I’ll have a Blue Christmas” sounds more appropriate. For those who have an identifiable “reason” to be sad it’s easy to slip into a season of sulking come Christmastime.

And so, on December 1st, that’s precisely what I did. I entered into a twenty-three day season of sulking.

While out shopping I was hopeless, unable to find the perfect gift for the loved ones on my list. While at home I was discontent, trapped in the sadness of my not-so-perfect life. Staring me in the face was the heavy weight of grief born out of a life sidelined by sickness. Although there was much to celebrate since last Christmas – more healing, vitality, improved health – I was blind to the many healing victories. All I could see were a lifetime of dreams and plans destroyed by a decade of sickness.

But then the light of God pierced into my darkness on December 23rd by way of a simple children’s Christmas play.

At New Life Community Church, the home of my church family, a small group of children performed a short and sweet Christmas program that shared a powerful and profound message. With bed sheets for costumes and a simple Bethlehem set, the kids told the story of Jesus’ arrival into the world. Mary and Joseph entered the manger scene followed by angels who appeared to shepherds as they watched their flocks by night. After telling them the good news about the Savior’s birth the young shepherds excitedly declared their desire to travel to Bethlehem and see the promised King of Kings.

As the play came to a close the audience’s attention was drawn back to the narrator as he said, “In believing, they found the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, their Savior. And tonight, just as it was in Bethlehem so many years ago, God has chosen you to hear the good news and believe.” That one line changed the spirit in the room – or at least it changed the spirit in me.

Belief transformed my heart.

Belief in Christ, who He is and what He came to do transformed my December bust into a beautiful time of celebration. By returning to Jesus Christ and fixating on His life from the cradle to the cross, my depression lifted and quickly disappeared. In the Savior’s presence the sadness I had experienced all season long was replaced by abundant joy and overwhelming peace.

Whether it be Christmastime or the middle of July, when we approach the manger throne believing in Christ and the salvation He delivers, we will encounter His peace, comfort and joy. By seeking the Savior and entering into His presence our hearts will be renewed by redeeming love.

Come to God bearing your bust of a month. Surrender your sadness and sorrow so He can transform it. God is faithful. He will redeem and restore you. Come to the manger and God will revive you with an eternally abiding Christmas spirit.

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Boils, Bubbles & Belief

I approached the mirror for the specific purpose of inspecting my nose (a relatively large sniffer to begin with) but not even I was prepared for the reality of my reflection. The moment my eyes caught a glimpse of my nose I recoiled, shocked by the face staring back at me.

The night before my nose inspection the outside of my right nostril had become tender and painful. Now it was morning and the pressure was even more intense. I felt the side of my nose and detected a large bump. Praying the protrusion was just a nasty pimple I hurried to the bathroom to take a closer look but my pimple hopes were dashed the moment I approached the mirror. What I witnessed in my reflection was worse – and bigger – than I’d imagined. It only took a second to diagnose that I had a gigantic, fire-red, inflamed boil growing on the side of my nose.

Confronted with the reality of my boil I immediately became discouraged. In the past few months many of my symptoms had been reducing – back pain, muscle spasms, visual disturbances, hot flashes. I had been flying high on revitalized health but now, when I looked at my nose, I couldn’t see a single physical gain. All I could see was a pussy, painful step backwards.

The boil was well on its way to defeating my spirit and hope for the future until I recalled my “bubble saga.”

The bubble that appeared on my left eyelid last December was an infectious cyst-like growth that disrupted my vision and held me hostage wearing glasses. The bubble remained on my eyelid for nearly half a year and grew to gargantuan, unsightly proportions before miraculously healing – praise God!

During my bubble saga the pussy protrusion often appeared as if it were about to burst but God never abandoned my eyelid. Although the bubble was tender and painful it never ruptured. Even when it grew so large I couldn’t open my eye fully, God never allowed that bubble to burst. He protected my vision and spared my eyelid so that, in His perfect time, it could heal by His perfect ways.

To this day I don’t know the science behind why my infection developed into a bubble on my eyelid but I do know why it healed. Because God intended for it to heal. Without medical intervention, surgery or prescriptions, God intended for the bubble to miraculously go away.

As I surveyed the boil on my nose discouragement and fear ceased at the memory of my bubble saga. Why should I worry about a boil when God has already proved He can sustain and heal my body? What power does an unsightly growth have over my hope and belief when I am in the hands of the Great Physician?

Because I believe God is able to do anything and know that nothing is impossible for Him, my boil cannot rob me of my peace or discourage me with the threat of defeat.

Because I am fully assured that God can perform any and every extraordinary miracle He so chooses I can look at any bubble, boil or infectious growth and continue to remain at rest.

Because God promises to always take care of me and has always been true to His word, I can be at peace regardless of my physical condition.

As I write this post my nose is still plagued by a boil that it is still causing me pain. For all I know this boil could stick around for six months just like its bubbly predecessor or longer if that be God’s will.

Although the future of my boil is still unknown the future of my hope and belief is secure because I know who is in control and who is working all things – boils and bubbles included – together for my good. The Lord God Almighty who upholds my life and oversees every fiber of my being has plans to make me boil-iful (I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist) for my good and His glory.

God is good.

God is faithful.

And He isn’t finished yet.