Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Still Emmanuel

I am feeling quietly emotional this New Year's Day.  Quietly emotional?  Yes, I tend to be loud with my emotions. Anger is loud, pained is dramatic, joy is jubilant.  I am a heart on her sleeves kind of girl and usually whatever I am feeling is profoundly noticeable.  Today I am feeling a wealth of emotions, but feeling still, small and yes, quiet in the midst of them.

I do not feel like I finished 2012 strongly.  I wandered through the final days of the year somewhat aimlessly. After a great time of being in the Word and studying through the book of James in the fall, when I finished I never really managed to get on any solid track to anywhere afterwards.  My Bible reading suffered first and then my prayer journal followed shortly after.

Someday when I (or someone else) look back on my journal from this season of life, only wonder will exist about the last 11 days of 2012.  After a year of journaling pretty consistently (though I have still yet to meet the goal of daily) everything just stopped.  One might imagine it was the busyness of the holiday season that kept me away, but I can honestly say it was a heart issue more than a time one.  I just struggled, and slowly the desire for the time with the Lord waned enough that hitting the snooze or getting on my phone first thing in the morning trumped spending time with Jesus.  I don't know why it happens, or even how, but it does, and it did.  As the famous hymn sang, "Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love...."

So now as I enter into the New Year of 2013 my heart song continues into the next line, "Take my heart, Lord, take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above."  This is my desire and prayer for the New Year.

I feel like I went to the birthday party but didn't even bother to connect with the Birthday Boy this past Christmas.  I was there, I was celebrating, but it was about family, friends and food, and the "Reason for the Season" somehow never made it to the center stage of my heart.  It was a nice holiday, I enjoyed my family and our time together, but all along the way it was as though something was tugging at the back of my heart and mind that I was missing something.  But I knew exactly what the something was, I just never managed to right the situation.  It was like looking at the Birthday Boy across the room, I'd catch His eye, nod toward Him.  "Yes, I see You, I know You're why we're here," but I never went over and gave him the embrace He deserved.

There was no great sin in it.  The one who suffered the most was me.  I still feel this lingering sense of regret that I missed so much of what the holiday should have been.  Even though I suspect I am not alone in putting Jesus as a "side dish" to the Holiday Feast. I suspect most people don't even give it a second thought, and many of us wander through the party, acknowledging Him with our nods, but never stepping up for the embrace.

Here's the thing, this "party" isn't just for the holiday season, Jesus is the One who ought to be celebrated every day.  Emmanuel, "God with us" is not just a seasonal moniker, it's the reality of Who Christ is, and Who He ought to be recognized as.  He is HERE, with us, beside us, among us - ALL THE TIME.   As I sit here in my messy office typing this blog post, Christ is here with me.  As you sit wherever you are reading this blog post, He is there with you.  Stop for a moment and truly consider that.  I'll wait.

My heart swells (quietly) at the thought of it.  I close my eyes and I try to drink in His presence.  Among the emotions I am feeling this New Year, I am overwhelmed with the grace of fresh starts.  Someone posted a picture on Facebook that said (paraphrase) "Today is the first page of a blank 365 page book, what will you write?"  My heart says, "Write nothing, let the Lord do it."   He's here with me, wanting to write my story for 2013.  I know I can lay aside the stumble out of 2012 and make a change today-- a change toward walking right up to the Honored Guest and embracing Him.  I want to spend 2013 not across the room offering Jesus the occasional nod, but walking alongside Him and being a part of every interaction.

The Lord makes firm the steps
    of the one who delights in him;
though he may stumblehe will not fall,
    for the Lord upholds him with his hand.
Psalm 37:23-24

I also find myself strangely filled with hope this New Year's Day. There is nothing in the circumstances that says I ought to be holding to hope.  If anything circumstances are concerning or worse.  And yet, I find myself feeling extremely hopeful about what the Lord may bring in 2013.  I have a sense of good things to come, even though I can point to NO THING that would even incline toward that.  Instead I point to Jesus and say simply, "I believe."

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for 
and assurance about what we do not see.
Hebrews 11:1

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. 
And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. 
For the joy set before him he endured the cross, 
scorning its shame, and sat down 
at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:1-2

I am expectant for 2013. Not because of my hopes or dreams or aspirations for the coming year (and I do have them) but because my intention for the New Year is to remember first and foremost that God is here WITH ME, and in that He is also FOR ME.  He already declared Himself to be Emmanuel, "God with us," God with ME, so it isn't a matter of Him having to come, it is just a simple matter of my remembering He is here.  So I stop again, close my eyes for a moment and drink in the Truth, He is here.  I will choose to walk closely with Him, one year, one month, one week, one day, one hour, one moment at a time.