weekly theme #4 God Is With Us*
week containing the fourth Sunday of Advent
Immanuel, is a name that means “God with us”. Immanuel, Jesus, stands near to me, wanting me to accept his love and desiring mine in return. I would best show my love by going beyond sentiment to worship and obedience. However, I am overwhelmed with material goods: a house with heat, cooling, running water, clothing, vehicles, books, electronics, and the list goes on. All these things more firmly plant my feet in loving this world. Those like me call those who have few possessions “the poor”, but I know in my heart they are not poor. I am the poor one. My happiness rises and falls by my possessions and comforts. When I step back and examine my life, by what standards should I use to measure my riches – comforts or kindness? Yes, I’m afraid that I am the poor one.
I can’t give what I don’t have. That appears to be sound reasoning, and I’m sure I’ve used that line myself although I can’t remember when. (I’m having trouble with my memory becoming slower and less organized, and that leads me to my point.) Sometimes I can’t give even what I have. When I consider myself the storehouse for what I can give, it limits my giving by capacity, access, and current relevance. It seems better for me to connect to the perfect Source, Model, and Provider and let him provide through me. Remaining a tool connected to the LORD, through the Holy Spirit, allows me to give two things I can never give from myself – everything and anything.
Sometimes I catch myself at the bottom of a page in a book and I don’t remember anything I’ve read. Sometimes I realize that I have driven for miles and I don’t remember any of it. I’ve been so engaged in a conversation (or TV show!) that I don’t notice what is going on around me. Focus. My focus determines what I sense. What I sense impacts my feelings and thoughts, which produce actions (or paralysis), and determines my future. God is with me, but do I sense him? He has a prepared a pathway for me, but unless I sense him, I will not follow his path because his path is unknown and impassable unless he is with me. (Ephesians 2:10 & Psalm 77:19)
God has been with us since the beginning of human life, but Jesus’ sacrificial birth began a path for me to receive even more. Through no merit of my own, God is in me.
*A Guide To Prayer For Ministers And Other Servants by Job and Shawchuck provided the scripture references and readings that inspired these reflections. I found this devotional to be the most heart changing of any I’ve used. It truly lives up to its title.