It’s Christmas morning here on the Western Slope is Colorado, and though I wish I could say we are experiencing a snowy white Christmas, we aren’t :). It’s still beautiful; sunny outside with a chill in the air, and warm and cozy here in the house.
There are a several things this season that aren’t quite how we wish they would be due to the year we are all experiencing together. I don’t even have to go through the list of things that aren’t like Christmas last year because we all know what the list is and feel the ache of longing to be with loved ones and celebrating in big gatherings, etc.
But this year, my hope is that we will take time amidst this different kind of Christmas- time to reflect on the good things we have right in front of us, and, time to be great Gil for the family and friends who are still with us (whether in our homes or a phone call or Zoom away). I also hope we’ll take time to remember the loved ones who ran their race and walked into eternity during 2020 as well as their loved ones who still remain here.
It’s a time for celebrating and remembering Our Savior’s birth. He came into the world that was very much dark and longing for things to be made right. In fact, that’s the whole story of creation- knowing that things aren’t as they should be, and aching for the time when they’ll be made new again.
Today, I’m so grateful that Our Jesus came to this earth- right into the middle of our mess and our struggle and He became Immanuel- God WITH us.
He’s with us friend.
In the messy, the momentous, and the mundane- He is with us. In the broken, the beautiful and the blessed- He is with us. In the longing…through it all He is with us.
Friend, I pray that wherever you find yourself today, that you’d be reminded of His presence so very near to us all today. Right where you are, that’s where He is.
He is Jesus, Immanuel, dwelling with us and hearing every prayer and seeing every need this Christmas Day.
May your day be filled with the reminder of His love for you, His care of you and His peace over you.
Let’s Pray: Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for the gift of your presence today. Thank you for the ache that tells us things aren’t the way they should be, because it’s the reminder that you will make all things right again one day soon. Thank you for stepping into this broken world so that you could bring redemption and hope. Thank you that you are right here with us in and through every bit of this life. Help our hearts to cling to the promise that you are with us, even to the end of the age. Amen.
Almost one month ago, I gathered with my family as we walked and are still walking through an incredibly difficult moment in our lives – the passing of our father. There aren’t words to describe the amount of loss we felt then and still feel even now. It hurts. It’s an ache I can’t even put it into words. Watching our earthly father draw his last earthly breath and enter into eternity with Jesus was painful. But there was something beautiful happening at the same time: Our dad was transitioning to a new life, completely whole and healed, dancing on the streets of heaven.
The tears burned as they poured out of our faces and we all cried aloud, lamented, and felt the absence of his presence with us. Pair that with the fact that we can’t have a Celebration of Life service for him because of the current restrictions from this pandemic, which many others are experincing right now. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but even in the misdt of this pain, I can’t help but thank God for His very real presence in that room that night. And His healing presence still meets us each morning; when we wake up feeling the loss come in waves over us, He is there. On the good days and the really really hard days (because grief comes and it hits when you don’t expect it), He is still here, right next to us. Our God is always on call.
Our Great Physician doesn’t sleep or take breaks – the psalmist says he is close to the broken hearted.:
He even promises to be with us until the very end of the age.
Do you ever think we avoid Our Great Physician as much as we do our earthly ones? Does the pain we feel inside feel altogether too much to pour out to Him as he intakes our emotional, mental, and physical history?
I think we often try to run from the ache of the pain- from the ache of the evaluation of our ourselves, and also from the pain or suffering we might have to endure in order to feel healed and whole again.
Don’t run friend. Don’t avoid the powerful and healing love of God that reaches the very source of our suffering.
Sometimes the remedy is as simple as a prayer of surrender. Other times it takes some work and therapy on our part: like making that phone call, getting ourselves into therapy, or forgiving those who have wounded us in some way, even when that someone is us. These steps must be done without delay – especially in this everchanging season when so many are canceling events and postponing gatherings, those phone calls and next right steps could be incredibly healing (more on that in an upcoming post).
Let’s call on The Lord in prayer; let’s surrender to His ways. Let’s ask Him for the wisdom to make that next right step – then, let’s make the next right step. Make the appointment (even if it has to be through video conferencing because of this current Covid-19 situation). Let’s make the phone calls we’ve have been wanting & needing to make. Let’s listen closely to that voice that cannot be replicated in text messages. If an apology is needed, let’s give it gladly and with sincere love. If forgiveness is required, let us give it graciously and abundantly. Whatever we need to do, let’s do it together because pain & suffering do not have the final say in our stories.
Friend, we don’t have to manage pain with avoidance or denial when Our Loving Father is on call 24/7. Our Great Physician has more than just our physical form in his sight. Our mental, emotional, and spiritual state matter to Him because He designed us and formed us. My prayer today is for all of us to remember that Jesus is well acquainted with pain and suffering. In fact, that’s what we are remembering today, this Good Friday of Holy week:
“He was despised and rejected by men, a man of suffering who knew what sickness was. He was like someone people turned away from;[b] he was despised, and we didn’t value him. Yet he himself bore our sicknesses, and he carried our pains; but we in turn regarded him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced because of our rebellion, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on him, and we are healed by his wounds. We all went astray like sheep; we all have turned to our own way; and the Lord has punished him for[c] the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:3-6 CSB)
Take heart friend, Jesus has already paid it all- for our forgiveness of sin and for our complete healing of mind, body, & soul. All of it has been completely covered by his plan. And no surprise bills come in the mail.
He’s a specialist and the best in every way. What a Savior! What a Surgeon! What a Healer we have!
Let’s Pray– Lord, on this Good Friday, we choose to remember that You are still Good. You know exactly what pain and suffering look like and feel like. We thank You for understanding us and our circumstances even better than we do. Lord, You see the entirety of us all- our past, our present and our future. Lord, when pain rises up in front of us we pray for the strength to run into Your arms. We are done running away from the hurt and the anguish. Our desire today is to run full-force into Your embrace as we pour out our hearts to You. We are done feeling alone in this – because You have already promised to never leave us or forsake us but to be with us until the very end of the age. Help our hearts to hold onto Your truth this morning! We don’t want to walk around avoiding pain- this world is full of brokenness and experiences that wreck our hearts. Lord, we come to You, knowing that You fully understand, and knowing that we can turn to You in our pain and brokenness. Thank You for Your love that walks us through it step by step, moment by moment, so we can live lives that are healed and whole. We will remember Your sacrifice for our salvation and for our healing today. And Lord, let us not forget that You didn’t avoid the pain of the cross or the depths of the grave; You finished the painful work because of Your great love for us. We are loved by You Lord, and we love You and thank You today for embracing us in the pain and through the healing, Amen.
Go The Extra Mile: We’ve been singing this song recently and it often comes to mind these days, so give it a listen and I pray it encourages you!
This post is dedicated to our amazing Daddy, Ricardo B. Sanchez
In the past few weeks we’ve covered the often misplaced emotions that can dwell inside of us, the portions of our hearts that still need the warmth and light of God’s love, and the challenge of learning how to pour out our hearts to God. Definitely not lightweight material. But remember, since we are trying to live our lives in truth and honesty before God, these are the things that should get our attention.
Not to violate our hearts or to make us feel shame, but so that we can begin to feel hope rise up and walk in victory.
Our life isn’t just for us friends. As long as we are on this earth, we each have a mission to carry out. We can either do so by living this life with hearts that are broken and hurt or, we can live with hearts full of life, hope, and healing.
The choice is ours to make.
I wanted to share a portion of my daily devotion with you today. Just the notes I took from the study I am currently working through. This morning, I was reading through passages in the Bible and the repeated pattern I saw was that the people of God also had a heart condition with the following symptoms:
-Hardened hearts, hearts that didn’t fear The Lord, stubborn & rebellious hearts, and hearts that they allowed to lead them astray.
These might have been the symptoms from a people long ago, but friend, I can hold up the magnifying glass of scripture and find those attributes in myself. Can you too?
All those symptoms stem from the same place: The Heart. This heart condition also comes with a warning from The Great Physician Himself:
“Do not harden your hearts as at Meribah, as on that day at Massah in wilderness where your fathers tested me; they tried me, though they had seen what I did.” (Psalm 95:8)
Do not harden your hearts.
What’s even greater? There is a treatment and prescription for this condition:
Worship & Bow Down. Kneel Before Our Maker in Surrender.
Because there is a world in need around us, waiting for us to heal so we can bring life, healing, and hope in Jesus’ Name.
Friends, below is my prayer from this morning. Real and honest. And if you’ve stayed with me this far, I invite you to pray it with me. Let this be OUR prayer today as we wrap up this series and continue this lesson. I don’t want to be the Queen of Hearts. I want to surrender to The King of Kings.
Let’s Pray: Lord, help our hearts to be softened to You alone. We don’t want to repeat history again with hardened hearts. We don’t want to be negligent of this condition that can overtake so quickly and destroy so much. We will come to You in worship and surrender, with joy, because You are God and King Most High. We will yield to You in reverence Holy Spirit, and come to You in worship as we bow down to counter act the hardness in our hearts. Thank You Lord for helping us to understand that we can give You total control of all that is within us, because You know how to care for those who belong to You. Amen.
Go The Extra Mile: I hope you’ve enjoyed this series and the music selections I’ve been adding – I’ve enjoyed creating these posts for us here on the blog, and I LOVE MUSIC! This song holds a special place in my heart, and I hope it meets you right where you are today:)
I’m a huge fan of British shows and all things UK and one show that I found intriguing was “The Crown”. One particular episode caught my attention because it had another one of my favorite things: letters. In this episode, the brother (Edward) who had abdicated the throne was featured showcasing his attempts to find work and move back closer to the family. A few of the scenes showed him at a desk at the end of the night, writing out his thoughts and feelings to his dear wife- the one he chose and the one he shared everything with. It struck me. Not because of the content he was writing, but the faithfulness to this routine which many of us might not be familiar with: Pouring our hearts out at the end of the night.
I know this to be true: When we don’t pour out our hearts to God first, we end up with hearts overflowing with all kinds of unresolved feelings.
Let’s hit the switch.
I have a challenge for us this week: Instead ending our days throwing around hurt and complaints, I want us to pour out our hearts. Just as a warm cup of tea is slowly poured into the vessel it is being served, let’s slowly pour out:
the thoughts that we know are holding us captive,
the situations beyond our control,
the conversations and assumptions we have held in our heart,
the inner messages that we keep on playing that we know are lies and not truth,
the hurt that we’ve been hanging onto and holding against others,
and anything else that’s tried to make its home inside of our hearts.
Pour it out. All of it. Every single drop.
Holding onto all those things is a habit that we think gives us control. The truth is, we don’t have control. We have pieces of hurt and pain. We have pieces of frustration and anger. We have pieces of fear and anxiety. And each piece, is like a habit of laying bricks – thinking that it is keeping us safe when in actuality, we’ve imprisoned ourselves. What we thought was a defense system actually isolated our hearts from those we love and those who love us. It also separates us from God- because we’ve tried and tried to handle this habit in our own strength without sharing it with Him.
Friend, I want to remind you that God isn’t afraid of all that we’ve bottled up or built up in our hearts. He’s not. He actually invites us to come to Him:
He desires to spend time with us and that we spend time with Him, pouring out our hearts. We see this even when creation was perfect – God came down to walk with Adam and Eve in the cool of the Day (Genesis 3:8). To walk and talk. Even after the fall, God still wanted mankind to share life with Him. Not just the pieces of our heart that can rejoice when life is going well, but He also wants to share life with us and hear us pour out the hurts and break the habits that have been holding us back from experiencing His best for our lives.
Our hearts matter to Him friend. They matter to him and they matter in eternity. How we use them, what we choose to hold onto, what we choose to let take root, what we treasure in them- all of it matters.
So what will you pour out to Him today?
Will we let go of that which entangles us today?
I’m raising my hands friend- I want to pour out my heart to Him. I’m hoping you do too. I’m telling you the honest truth- my heart is heavy right now. As each little piece of our heart (yours and mine) trickles out to Him, it gets easier and easier to pour out the rest, like a steady stream.
Let’s Pray: Lord, let everything within us come out to you first, as an offering of surrender. We surrender our hearts to You in this moment. We surrendered to Your love and Your light that shines bright in the dark places. We surrender to a Your Truth that shows us a better way. We surrender to Your loving arms that welcome us in and hold us together when everything else feels like it is falling apart. We are done holding it all in, and we declare that we are ready to pour our hearts out to You so that in turn, You can use our lives to be poured out in service for Your glory. God, we thank You for the finished work of Jesus that allows us to be healed and made new. We accept it and we will choose to give you the praise for the healing that is taking place deep inside of us as we pour out our hearts to You. Amen.
peace – liz
Go The Extra Mile: Check out one of my absolute favorite messages in this song from The Belonging Co! The lyrics, “I don’t want it if You’re not in it I just want You…Your heart, Your ways, show me Your face…” that’s the whole point behind this series- to align our hearts to look and operate more like His and to become more intentional about our relationship with Him.