ABIDING IN CHRISTMAS ALL YEAR LONG
If you abide in me, and my Word abide in you, then you shall ask anything and I will give it to you. -John 15:7
Jesus said that. The Bible records it in John 15:7-11. God has told us that His Word abides forever. If this Word was not true or if it did not apply to me, then Jesus would have told us when He said it to His disciples. Jesus would not be Jesus, and I would not be who I am today if His Word was not true. If you are an “ABIDER,” one who still abides today, then you are who you are today because this Word is true. You can stake your whole life on it.
What is Prayer or Communion with God, but abiding in the love of God? Prayer is not the mechanics of bending on one’s knees or opening one’s mouth to formulate words to say to God. It is the essence of your abiding that makes prayer, not the activity. Prayer is the motive and intent of the heart and not the mechanics of the mouth. True prayer is the thought and intention unseen and then carried out, recognized, and ultimately rewarded openly by God, rather than the sound of the noise, language, timing, or frequency that is heard by all. These former things: the sound, the noise, the language, the timing, the frequency – that which we wrap around gifts at Christmas time, for example, this is all nostalgia. We use nostalgia to help us visualize and experience the essence of abiding in Christ, not as a substitute for it.
Nostalgia is whatever we see or experience that is rooted in the familiar. Artist, Scott Erickson, author of: Honest Advent: Awakening to the Wonder of God-with-Us Then, Here, and Now says that nostalgia is a feeling rooted in a pattern of customary experience. I personally find that nostalgia gives comfort. It puts a familiar face on what would otherwise be mysterious. It is the collective or single representation of something that we cherish or want to remember. Nostalgia can help us to become more aware to listen better, to pay attention, and not forget so that we can focus in a greater way. Or it can do the opposite and become so overwhelming that we totally lose focus of what was the point in the first place. And when it comes to spiritual things, isn’t that what sin and offense does to God? Causes us to miss the mark – to miss the point of that which is perfect, that which is holy, that which is completely aligned and best-fitting for us?
Take Christmas for example. To miss the point of Christmas is to offend God and sin knowingly or unknowingly. The nostalgic atmosphere is filled with:
- decor and decorations,
- style of music,
- imagery and signs,
- colors and patterns, and
- repeated activity, trends, or words.
All of these have unfortunately become the things that we lay on the altar as sacrifices.
But if you look for the sacred Jesus in the sacrifice where do you see Him? Is He in receipt that you got from purchasing the Christmas gifts you found on sale at the mall? Is Jesus in the cup of hot cocoa or Starbucks? Is He at the pageant where you went to see the real live animals proceed for the children at church? Or is He at the holiday party you had at work this week? Where is The Messiah God With Us?
Can you sense His presence and growing heaviness of the weight of Him when you give a hug? Can you hear the Holy Spirit whispering so clearly in your ear the weight of the intimacy with God that you are carrying? Are you left so stunned, moved, touched, or shaken by reality of hearing His voice inside of you letting you know that it’s going to be alright? Where is He here? Where can you point to God on earth knowing that you are not alone?
Where is Jesus is the question that the book I mentioned above Honest Advent, which I am reading leading up to Christmas – has stopped me in my tracks this season. I am doing a self-care experiment and this book has humbly compelled me to explore.
Left alone without the substance or essence of a thing, nostalgia is totally worthless. -Merle Ray
Where is the announcement of the Savior and the visitation of this Most Holy Thing?
Where is the pregnancy in me?
Where is the morning sickness, the uneasiness, the signs of impending glory and at the same time the heaviness of reality that I am carrying weight that is pregnant with purpose? -Merle Ray
When it happens and trust me – it will happen – both women and men seek the possibilities of purpose. Then you will ask as did Mary and I, myself in my own life: “What can this thing be?”
When your Christmas nostalgia is stripped butt-naked and you cannot see, taste, hear, smell, or touch the miraculous abiding overwhelming presence of God with us, then you will desire genuine change. Who you are inside will tug at you and demand to know the real you. Out of fascination for the mysterious, you will want to seek out this “heaviness” of the change that you are feeling tugging at you. The desire that is growing deeper and stronger within you will then cause you to ask yourself the question, not where is Jesus, but where is this Most Holy Thing inside of me?
I cannot live a life that is pregnant with purpose and power, provision and providence, peace and pardon, perfection and pain of God in Christ, and not know the grace and truth of it at some level.
What good is a soul if it is not to experience the profound powerful presence of grace and truth at work? Because that’s who Jesus is. He gave birth to Grace and Truth in the earth realm – for everything that pertains to life and godliness. Grace and Truth is everything in Christ Jesus, including me! So if you want grace and truth for anything that pertains to your life and godliness, then ask and it shall be given. Seek and you shall find. Knock and the door will be opened for you to become pregnant with divine seed and purpose not just at Christmastime, but all year long.
Christmastime is transcendent. It does not happen once a year. It’s been happening since the beginning of creation in the B.C. period, when Eve, the mother of all humans, taught us the greatest lesson we could know as women:
It takes faith to be a woman!
But we all know that’s not the end of the story. Mary comes along in the A.D. period to show her the beauty of womanhood is found in bringing the invisible of heaven to the visible earth. But then Jesus’ life on earth takes living to a whole new level because it gives humanity a higher calling.
Learning to live pregnant with purpose is a choice for every human.
Dr. Merle Ray,
The Brilliance Midwife, Mentor Coach, and Business Strategist