We have a Little People nativity that sits under our tree. Despite our best efforts, it rarely is all in order. Sometimes the animals are sitting on the dining room table. Sometimes baby Jesus is riding in a dump truck. Almost always the pieces are scattered all over our house, only to be returned to the angelic scene after the kids are in bed. Our nativity scene is pretty disheveled, which in many ways is a microcosm of our current season of life.
"Although the eternal Son, as God the Son, obeyed the Father and fulfilled what the Father willed for the Son to do prior to the incarnation, yet it was only the God-man, the human Jesus, who could obey in this way. To obey to the point of death requires the ability to die, and for this, Jesus had to be human. To be placed on a cross required that he be in a human body, and so again, this obedience required that he be fully human..."
We all have that sin. The one we thought was long conquered, long forgotten, and long paid for by Christ's precious blood. Then one day it emerges, reminding us that we are not yet perfected, and riddling us with guilt. It's the sin we don't speak of. It's the sin that we are certain would cause friends to shun us, strangers to mock us, and God to turn his back on us. Everyone's is different, but the effects on us are the same. And when it rears its ugly head we are undone.
I'm not one for New Year's resolutions. I suppose I don't like the disappointment when I don't meet my own impossible standards. But I do like to reflect on the previous year and look forward to the one ahead of me. As the year turned from 2014 to 2015 I was reading through the stories of the kings of Judah and Israel in Kings and Chronicles. It's hardly reading that will make you feel warm and fuzzy inside as you start a new year.
I've struggled with fear and anxiety all of my Christian life. In many ways it seems that when I conquer one fear, another one is lurking in the shadows. Fear is my constant enemy. I've often thought that the constant refrain of my soul is "Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief!" This is my heart's cry as I seek daily to do battle with my ever present fears.
The other night as my head hit the pillow I felt weighed down by a lingering cloud of guilt. I couldn't shake the sense that I was doing something terribly wrong, or at least not doing enough. Either by commission or omission, I was failing. But what I couldn't understand was why I felt this way on that particular evening. There were no catastrophic accidents with the twins that day. No one had a meltdown that was out of the ordinary.
I don't know anyone who enjoys being confronted in their sin. I know I don't. Sometimes the confrontation comes from a trusted friend, sometimes a sermon, or sometimes it comes from God's word. Depending on how it is delivered to us, our reaction to it varies.
It's true. I am a lifelong quitter. It started in adolescence when I would repeatedly sign up for activities that I really thought were my life's calling. Dance. Gymnastics. Softball. Swimming. Volleyball. It only took a short while to realize that flexibility, coordination, and athletic prowess were nowhere to be found in my gene pool. So I quit.
Last week, I talked about waiting well this Advent season. But Advent is not just about waiting well, it's also about trusting well. Nowhere do we see this more clearly than in the story of Mary, the mother of Jesus.
I mentioned last week that I am going to be writing a brief series on the wonder of Christmas. The Gospel accounts of Christ's birth never cease to amaze me. Every year I find myself overwhelmed by all that God reveals to us through these short verses in the Bible.