It’s been a tough year in so many ways. I’ve watched brothers and sisters suffer and battle courageously as their bodies were ravaged by unexpected disease and witnessed the lives of those they love shattered by their loss. I’ve shuddered at the sheer evil of malevolent groups like ISIS killing sweet, innocent children who did nothing to them and I’ve wept at the breadth of what divides us as a nation and as people.
In our darkest moment we see the greatest light.
Yes, I’ve seen light. The light of a young boy who a year ago lost life as he knew it when his mother and sister were killed in a tragic car accident that left him fighting for his very breath. I’ve seen God’s gracious mercies, tenderly sweet, heal this young little hero and begin restoring him to full health.
In spite of the darkness, I’ve tasted the joy of seeing people bring their love filled shoebox gifts by the thousands upon thousands so that somewhere in a land far away, a young child—whose life has been devastated by the effects of disease, disaster, war or poverty—can know and feel love and hear the Good News Jesus ushered in on a Cross at a place called Calvary, over 2000 years ago.
When I’ve been at my lowest point, I’ve been lifted up by the lost, lonely and least of our 21st century Dallas culture. Seeing men continue to press on in spite of their dire circumstances has helped me do the same, no matter how hard some days may be. I’ve been encouraged by seeing men whose lives have value hang on to hope even though they have fallen off the last rung of our society’s ladder of success.
You have value.
All life has value. Every life matters. All life has value because all life comes from God. Scripture teaches that we were created in His image. We matter because we matter to Him. How much do we matter? So much so that He sent His one and only Son so that all who would believe in Him might experience eternal life, living in the presence of God forever. God took the initiative to heal the divide.
As you prepare for this Christmas season, reflecting on the year past and looking forward to the year that lies ahead, what will you do? Will you reach out to that old friend or family member and make peace? Will you do something that helps restore someone else to dignity? Will you be part of the solution rather than a voice of division?
Life matters; Starting with your life.
The responsibility and accountability for my life begins with me. If I’m not happy with the results, then I have to be willing to take a hard look in the mirror. Am I stewarding the gifts, talents, and resources God gave me well? Or am I letting them go by the wayside?
When it comes to relationships, the part that I control and what I must be willing to own is my part in them. Do I treat people like I want to be treated? Do I demonstrate love, kindness and forgiveness to others or are those simply things I expect in return without being willing to first love others before they love me?
Let it go.
As Momma used to say, “Quit crying over spilled milk.” The past is done. You can do nothing to change it today. What you can do is impact TODAY. Don’t get ahead of yourself and start thinking about tomorrow. Focus on TODAY. What will I do to make someone’s day TODAY? Let go of the past. Let bygones be bye and gone. Otherwise, bitterness and resentfulness will take root.
You’ve heard that life is too short. Don’t waste it looking at the things that are wrong with it. Instead, look at what’s right and celebrate that.
Rely on God’s Word.
At the end of the day, in his letter to the Thessalonians, Paul says it best:
“We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.
Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” (1 Thessalonians 5:12-24)
May you rejoice always, pray without ceasing and give thanks in all circumstance.
Go be blessed and go be a blessing.