Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas Is For Moms

"A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world." – John 16:21

People always say that Christmas is for children. In many ways I agree with that. The sparkling lights, shiny decorations and stylish wrapping capture a child’s imagination in a way that few other experiences can. However, when you strip way the glitter and get down to the nitty gritty, I think Christmas is for moms.

A mom can understand the need to protect and support her husband, even if it means riding for days on a donkey while nine months pregnant. A mom can make any place feel like home for her child, even in a stable. Some translations of the Bible say that Jesus was wrapped in swaddling cloths. Did Mary pack in anticipation of having her baby while on the road? The term swaddling implies that the cloths were meant for a baby.

Beyond the physical scene painted in Bethlehem, a mother can relate, in many ways, to Mary’s emotions as well. Every mother knows her child will be magnificent, even if an angel doesn’t come to tell her so. We all feel compelled to provide the best we can for our children, whether it comes in the form of accepting gifts from three strangers or working crazy hours to make sure there is food in his tummy and a onesie on his back. We go to great lengths to protect our little treasures, whether that means fleeing from an unstable king, or a pushy mother-in-law.

In the eyes of our babies, we see the future of the world. And while we don’t enter into motherhood knowing what role our child will play the way Mary did, the anticipation of what lies ahead keeps us hopeful from one Christmas to the next.

I pray that you, and your entire family, have a very blessed Christmas.

In honor of the holiday, I will take a break from blogging until the new year. I look forward to talking with you in 2009!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Faith in Those Around Us

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”

Have you ever wondered what it was like to be Noah’s wife? She didn’t receive a message from God, yet her life was turned upside down by her husband’s mission to build the ark. She directly felt the impact of the long hours Noah spent building the ship. She got by with less when her husband used their resources for his project. She faced the ridicule of their friends and neighbors who didn’t understand why someone would build an enormous boat miles from any body of water. The Bible never tells us that God gave Noah’s wife any first-hand information. She had no choice but to trust her husband.

How do we respond to the calling of those around us? Had I been Noah’s wife, he would have endured a peppering of endless questions. God told you to do what? Are you sure it was God? How do you know? Are you sure this is what He told you? How do you know? Are you sure you are supposed to do this right now? How do you know?

My church is facing a situation where the elders have each received the same message from God (all nine of them), and the rest of the congregation is asking the questions. This is a dilemma we come across often in life. At what point do we trust another person to have accurately heard, interpreted, and understood a message from God, and when do we question? When God speaks to someone close to us, but leaves us in the dark, how do we respond?

I foresee having a hard time with this when my children get older and start telling me about their own callings. Will I trust that they have listened well to God and keep my hands to myself and my mouth shut as He uses them?

When God’s plans are directed at those around us and we struggle with knowing how to respond, the only thing we really can do is to pray. We can ask God to help us know how to react, how to participate, or to understand if any action is even necessary. When praying about our church situation earlier this week, God told me to hold the course. “You are right where I want you,” He said. “This is not a time I want you getting involved or rocking the boat.” Sometimes we have to be content in simply doing nothing more than having the faith to trust someone else.

Who is God calling you to trust today? What can you do to teach your children how to discern between trustworthy people and those who aren’t honest?