It's the week after Christmas and all through the town,
people sigh with relief and think of when to take down
the tree and it's trimmings, the lights on the house,
the snowflakes, and candles, or return the new blouse?
But the manger with angels and wise men afar,
do we pack it away like we load up the car?
What if Jesus could stay in our lives all year long?
What if joy, peace, and love were more than a song?
Could life be as simple as receiving a babe
and believing the man who said he would save?
Does the letdown of Christmas have to stay in our hearts
with no hope 'til next year when holidays start?
Today as you're thinking of what is to come,
the debt-laden bills and "will there ever be sun?"
Remember that Christmas is more than a story,
in an old book--it's about heavenly glory
Our Father in heaven loved us so much
that he sent his son Jesus to keep us in touch
He longs for our heart to respond back to him,
with love for our Savior and faith deep within
He did all the work years ago on the cross
If we choose to say "no" we're the ones suffering loss
But if we say "yes" to being with Him,
he'll keep us forever and save us from sin
It's simple, not easy to give up our pride
and choose to be humble and trust that he died
For every dear child he made from the start.
God doesn't need money, he just wants your heart
He's light in this darkness, the answer to fear.
He's willing and waiting for all who will hear
Today can be Christmas with peace all the time,
if only we'll trust him and our ways decline
Yes, it's that simple.
Today is a little stormy in my town in Southwest Florida. Not really cold, but with gusty winds, grey clouds crawling across the sky, and temperatures in the mid-sixties, I’m reminded that we’re in the middle of winter. I know it’s snowing in other places, but here in our tropical paradise I forget. Looking at the sun streaming intermittently between the clouds today, it’s hard to believe it’s a frigid winter elsewhere, and we’re already half-way through the first month of 2021.
Thankfully, due to our warmer weather, there is a tree in the area behind our townhouse that spans the view of my patio and living room window. The elongated, dipping branches stretch out a handful of magenta blossoms as if it’s handing me gifts. A blanket of fallen blooms covers the ground beneath the tree. I watch as the wind scatters a shower of them to add to the carpet covering the grass.
In the midst of a dark world, beauty still reigns. I’m grateful this morning for the view. Grateful for the sporadic rays of sunshine and the blustery winds. Grateful that God is on his throne seeing everything, knowing all, and in control.
Time doesn’t exist within his realm. We live according to the clock, but he has already been here this day. Already seen the events still to play out. Nothing surprises him. So I can rest and revel in the beauty he offers us.
When I sit in this place of peace, listening for God’s whispers in the wind, I am transported into his kingdom. He placed man in a garden, after all, didn’t he? His desire was for us to walk and talk with him in the beauty of nature. And God doesn’t change. That’s still his desire today.
I know evil in the world rages. Our voices have been silenced by media, social sites, and masks. Lies are being called truth, and truth is repelled as a lie. Children are discarded through abortion and trafficking. Various religious groups persecute those who choose to follow Jesus in his way of love. Political tempers flare. Those who claim tolerance are intolerant of anything having to do with God. Even those who say they love God, show hate across various platforms. As the Bible says in 2 Timothy 3:1-3,
“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good…”
Sounds like our world.
But God still offers us beauty. Beauty for ashes, the Bible tells us.
God’s grace and mercy reach far past our sinful, prideful ways. His peace reaches out to us when we’re harried, hassled, fearful, and anxious. He longs for us with the love of a perfect father who wants our company, our input, our devotion, and our good. His call to us is to see him, know him, and love him in response to his immeasurable love for us.
He offers us so much. For so little.
Jesus paid such a great price so that we could belong and be with him forever.
Today, when a bit of beauty crosses your path—when the color of a flower, the majesty of a sunset, a blanket of newly fallen snow, the wave of the mighty ocean, or the towering of stately trees shows up—when the hand of God strokes his paintbrush across your landscape, will you take a moment?
Whisper a thank you. Consider the God in heaven who you may have overlooked, ignored, or forgotten? Recognize that in Jesus, you can live in a place of perfect peace in spite of the crazy ways of the current world. It only takes a moment to reach out in response to God reaching out to you. Quicker than typing out a text, we can say,
“Thank you for all you’ve made. Thank you for your love. Thank you for dying on the cross for me, Jesus. I’m sorry I’ve sinned against you. Please lead me into your kingdom today. I believe you. I trust you.”
Will you join me in beauty today?
If you say, “yes,” I’d love to know. Will you give me a thumbs up in the comments, or tell me your story? Or even just click like. I pray for my readers, and we all need prayer in these times, don’t we?
A number of years ago, I lived in Nevada where snow fell for the better part of the year. Many days, the roads were still covered in ice and snow, even with plows clearing them on a regular basis.
On days like that, I rarely went out. But on this one particular day, I had no choice so I piled my four kids in our old Bronco, set my four-wheel drive, and ventured out despite my longing to avoid the trip into town.
We lived outside Reno, in a little valley at the foot of the Sierras so whenever it snowed, the storm would swirl around in our valley as if it were trapped by the surrounding mountains and hills.
Getting out was hard enough, but going down the slippery hill, onto the highway, and into town proved challenging at best. Especially when the snow blew in blizzard, white-out conditions.
As it did on this particular day. (Did I mention I would have rather been at home with a cup of tea and a good book?)
Whenever we made the twenty to thirty minute journey into town (depending on what part of Reno we needed to arrive at), it seemed like a longish drive. But on snowy days, the are-we-there-yet question played every few minutes in what felt like a never-ending trek of epic proportions.
We made it down the hill, onto the highway, and the road was remarkably clear of traffic. (Those smart other people!) But it was not clear of snow and ice.
I drove clutching the steering wheel while reassuring my youngsters that all was good. “You all have your seat belts on, right? Mommy’s just double-checking.”
That’s when I glimpsed a flash of red up ahead of me through the blinding snow. The brake lights of a slowing, or stopped(?) car. I tapped my brakes lightly, but in an instant, the car spun out of control.
Kind of in slow motion.
But within a few seconds we were headed the wrong way on the highway.
I’m thrilled to say that we didn’t crash. Simply landed with a bump and poof of snow in the center divider. While we were shaken up, I was able to carefully navigate us into the right direction and off the highway. Thank you, Jesus! (I say that a lot.) I decided to take the longer, street route the remainder of the way into town. Yeah.
Here’s the thing.
For those few minutes, the scariest part was feeling like I was completely out of control. My car was turning and sliding and no amount of driving-in-snow protocol helped.
I was helpless, powerless, and sensed danger all around.
I think that’s how most of the world feels these days. Between the virus, job losses, the election, violence in our streets, and even friends and family turning against us on social media, we can spin out of control and land facing the wrong direction.
Isn’t that what we fear most? Being out of control?
Don’t we want to know what’s happening all the time and have a handle on it? Our family, our job, our finances, our spouse, kids, friends, and the outcome of this election?
But what if we don’t? What do we do then? How do we handle life when we feel like we’ve lost control?
It’s been a slow road, but I’m learning to trust the God that IS in control. He sees all, has already been where we’re going, and knows what’s up ahead. I may not know, but if he does and I trust him then no matter what happens, I can be at rest.
Even when I’m out of control.
What if God knows everything about this virus, the election, the violence, and what my spouse, kids or friends feel and think? What if he’s using every single good and bad thing to bring something good, or better for us or someone else? What if we trusted that what we can see is only part of the bigger picture and plan?
I could tell a multitude of stories of all the times I questioned what was happening from injury, sickness, death to job loss, financial struggles and misunderstandings with family or friends. I have plenty of material.
I know this from my sixty years of life. God is good. He is faithful. I can trust him with everything and when I do, my heart is at peace even in the midst of messy spin-outs. It took practice to learn, and I’m still in process, but I know my God, and he loves us.
Getting to know him is the first step. Getting to know him intimately (nothing weird, just up close and personal), is the next. First we try talking to him and trusting him with something, and then we can trust him with the next thing and the next. Anyone who would give their child so that we could be close to him must love us an awfully lot.
“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.” I John 4:9
“We love because he first loved us.” I John 4:19
Today, when you feel out of control, maybe try talking to the God who loves you and is in control. You may find a new sense of peace to give up your control and leave everything in his very capable hands.