Friday, December 26, 2008

Immanuel: God with us

Today I awoke to a world shrouded in misty whiteness, an unusual winter fog combining with last weekend's snowfall to create a pale and chilly monochrome universe. I pulled the rough warmth of my sweater closer and shivered a bit as I peered through the icy glass; yet a smile could not be restrained as one word tiptoed into my consciousness, then danced its way through my thoughts like a long-enduring autumn leaf skittering across fresh-fallen snow.


Throughout the pages of Scriptures, God reveals His presence in the visible form of a cloud: the cloud which led the children of Israel through their daytime wilderness wanderings; the cloud from which God spoke on Mount Sinai, enveloping Moses during those mysterious days of face-to-face communion; the cloud which descended upon the tabernacle and temple when they had been finished to perfection and prepared for the indwelling of the Most Holy; the glorious cloud which surrounded Jesus on the mount of transfiguration and dazzled Peter into stammering foolishness; and the cloud upon which Jesus will magnificently return to earth with trumpet sound as conquering King.

With this beautifully-woven backdrop of truth, I choose to accept this day -- this moment of nebulous uncertainty, this place where all seems to fade into indistinct confusion -- as a tangible reminder of the Almighty's presence in my life. My Father is here in this cloud, completely surrounding me with His love. The color and warmth may be drained out of my world, and I may not be able to see more than an arm's length into the future. But -- O truth incomprehensible! -- Jesus has come. He that is Wonderful, my Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace -- He is here.

God with us.

This poignantly beautiful song moves me to grateful tears:

A sign shall be given
A virgin will conceive
A human baby bearing
Undiminished deity
The glory of the nations
A light for all to see
That hope for all who will embrace
His warm reality

Our God is with us
And if God is with us
Who could stand against us
Our God is with us

For all those who live in the shadow of death
A glorious light has dawned
For all those who stumble in the darkness
Behold your light has come

Our God is with us
And if God is with us
Who could stand against us
Our God is with us

So what will be your answer?
Will you hear the call?
Of Him who did not spare His son
But gave Him for us all
On earth there is no power
There is no depth or height
That could ever separate us
From the love of God in Christ

Our God is with us
And if God is with us
Who could stand against us
Our God is with us
~Michael Card

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The incarnation of HOPE

Our sinful nature led to the Fall and the trials of living in a corrupted world. But one day two thousand years ago, the promise of a Savior was fulfilled as a tiny baby boy burst into our world. We have a Savior who knows what it is like to walk in our shoes ... and then triumph over death, the penalty for our sins. His triumph does not mean our trials are over in this life, but they are most certainly driving to a glorious conclusion. Let us fix our eyes on that certainty, instead of the momentary tribulations of this brief life. the rest of Carolyn's excellent post here. No matter what you're going through right now, Jesus' love does give hope. Trust Him.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Learning to pray

Learning to pray is learning to trust the wisdom, the power, and the love of our Heavenly Father, always so far beyond our dreams. He knows our need and knows ways to meet it that have never entered our heads.

Things we feel sure we need for happiness may often lead to our ruin. Things we think will ruin us -- if we believe what the Father tells us and surrender ourselves into His strong arms, bring us deliverance and joy.

~Elisabeth Elliot

He is with us

We are living out these lives of ours too much apart from God. We toil on dismally, as if the making or the marring of our destinies rested wholly with ourselves.

It is not so.

We are not the lonely, orphaned creatures we let ourselves suppose ourselves to be. The earth, rolling on its way through space, does not go unattended.

The Maker and Controller of it is with it, and around it, and upon it. He is with us here and now. He knows us infinitely more thoroughly than we know ourselves. He loves us better than we have ever dared to believe could be possible.

~William R. Huntington

I have not yet praised God

Here, and here alone,
Is given thee to suffer for God’s sake.
In the other worlds we shall more perfectly
Serve Him and love Him, praise Him, work for Him,
Grow near and nearer Him with all delight;
But then we shall not any more be called
To suffer, which is our appointment here.
Canst thou not suffer, then, one hour or two?
If He should call thee from thy cross of thine
From which thou prayest for deliverance,
Thinkest thou not some passion of regret
Would overcome thee? Thou wouldst say, so soon?
Let me go back and suffer yet awhile
More patiently: — I have not yet praised God!

~H.E.H. King