God’s Promise

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No One

No matter what you’ve done, no matter where you’ve run, you’re never too far gone that the love and mercy of God cannot reach you.

He will forgive you.

He will break the chains that bind you.

He will heal your brokenness.

He will restore you.

He will love you.

He already loves you.

That is why he seeks you.

So don’t give up hope. Don’t believe what others may say about you.

No one is beyond God’s reach. No one.

God is reaching out for you today. Will you reach out and take His hand?

Where can I go to escape your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to heaven, you are there;
if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
If I live at the eastern horizon
or settle at the western limits,
even there your hand will lead me;
your right hand will hold on to me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me,
and the light around me will be night”—
even the darkness is not dark to you.
The night shines like the day;
darkness and light are alike to you.

Psalm 139:7-11

 

Happiness in Imperfection

Wonderfully Made

She walked in the room and looked down at me. I wasn’t surprised by her serious expression nor was I surprised by her remarks.

“Your pics are bad,” she reported. She glanced over at my husband and reiterated, “They’re bad.”

I simply nodded my head in agreement for even though I had not seen what she had, I knew her assessment was correct. She was my doctor, after all.

No, the pics she was reviewing were not head shots for my blog (although I could use a new one of those!). The pictures to which my doctor was referring were x-rays of my spine.

When life gives you Lemons…

Lemons and Grace

My scoliosis was detected in my preteen years. I was no stranger to physical malady, however. I had been living with a genetic muscle disorder all of my life. Scoliosis was just another lemon to add to the pitcher. But I have to tell you, these lemons were pretty rotten. How do you make the best of a muscle disorder that prevents you from living a “normal” life and a spinal condition that disfigures your body and promises even greater complications in the future?

Grace. My only answer is Grace.

God’s sufficient Grace

The way I see it, my life has been one big miracle. From walking when the neurologists said it wasn’t possible to roller skating, bike riding and tree climbing, a diagnosis didn’t seem to stop me. The typical activities of children were challenges that I faced with the love and support of family and friends. Some activities were (and still are) more challenging than others, like climbing a flight of stairs (Check out my post about the stairs of life here.), but I did it. I pushed myself to live a “normal” life. None of it was normal, though. I had to learn to compensate my weaknesses with my strengths. I had to take advantage of railings or whatever was available (including people) to pull me along or assist in climbing or getting up after a frequent fall. I had to adapt to make it through life. It hasn’t been easy and I know that if it weren’t for God’s grace…

Well, I try not to think about that.

God’s Work on Display

My Weakness

So, here I am, a few decades down the road from its first detection, and I find myself facing the inevitable. The scoliosis has progressed along with all of its lovely side effects – deformity, labored mobility and pain. I’ve been ignoring it, telling myself that it’s my norm. The reality is I didn’t want to admit that I needed medical help. It’s discouraging to face my imperfections and dependence head on (Have I ever talked with you about my stubbornness? 😉 ) but I’m doing my best to keep it all in perspective. (Really, I am.)

You see, I don’t believe I was cursed. I don’t believe God gave these problems to me. None of us are perfect. We all have something in our lives that makes us feel abnormal whether we admit it or not. What I do believe is that God can use my medical issues to display His mighty works. In fact, as I look at all He has enabled me to accomplish, in my physical growth and in every area of my life, I realize His Grace has always been shining brightly in me, through me and around me as a miraculous beacon of hope – a hope that will carry me through all that is to come.

Finally, Lemonade!

Since I began this post, I have had my first visit (in 18 years) with a chiropractor. He showed me my x-rays and as I already mentioned, my doctor was right. It’s not good. (I’d show them to you but that’d be taking transparency a little bit too far, don’t you think? 😉 )

On the bright side, though, I have learned that I am the topic of conversation throughout the entire doctor’s office. It seems I’ve presented them with a case unlike they have ever seen. In the words of the chiropractor, “There is no textbook for [me].” Well, what d’ya know! I’m one of a kind.

Now how’s that for lemonade! 🙂

Happiness is… A Keeper

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Happiness is to know the Savior,
Living a life within His favor,
Having a change in my behavior,
Happiness is the Lord.

Happiness is a new creation,
Jesus and me in close relation,
Having a part in His salvation,
Happiness is the Lord.

Real joy is mine,
No matter if the teardrops start,
I’ve found a secret,
It’s Jesus in my heart.

Happiness is to be forgiven,
Living a life that’s worth the livin’,
Taking a trip that leads to Heaven,
Happiness is the Lord.

“Happiness is the Lord” by Ira F. Stanphill

I learned this fun, little song when I was a child and as soon as I began this endeavor of blogging about happiness, the memories of singing this song in church so many years ago flooded my mind. And it has been playing over and over again in my head ever since. Even now, I can’t help but hear (and sing) it! But what a great message – Happiness is the Lord! And what a perfect introduction to this final installment of “Happiness Is…”.

What have we learned thus far about happiness?

We’ve learned that it is not an object, a person, or a desired set of circumstances. These are merely vehicles for temporary pleasure. They elicit short-lived feelings and never usher us into a lasting state of true Joy.

We’ve also learned that true happiness is not a goal to be reached but rather a by-product of how we live. When we live in such a way that honors God, the Creator and Giver of true happiness, only then will we find a Joy that can weather any storm and sustain us for all of our days.

That’s good stuff! 😉

Now that we know how to attain real happiness, how do we successfully retain it?

Yes, unfortunately, it is possible to lose our Joy. Oh, don’t get me wrong. Once we’ve found the true Joy of the Lord, it’s ours for keeps. That doesn’t mean, however, that our lives will be filled with nothing but blue skies and smooth sailing. No, life is filled with storms – big ones! Difficult people, sickness, death, financial struggles and so many other trials of life are lurking around every corner waiting to steal our Joy. All of these “storms” have the potential to leave us lonely, depressed, sorrowful and hopeless. So, how do we make it through the storms of life without losing our Joy?

When the storms of life begin to threaten and we feel as though our Joy is waning, it’s helpful to stop a moment for some serious introspection. In times like these, there are four areas of our lives that we need to examine:

  1. Our faith
  2. Our foundation
  3. Our focus
  4. Our hope (Well, pooey! I couldn’t think of a fourth word beginning with “F” to complete my alliteration. How on earth do pastors do it every single Sunday? 😉 )

An honest look at these four areas is key to learning how to retain our happiness.

Where is your Faith?

The tendency we all have (as we learned in Part One of this series) is to stake our happiness on the desires of our hearts, obtaining one treasure, one relationship or one ideal moment after another. When we do this, however, we are trusting our happiness to the objects of our affection and allowing them to reign over us emotionally, mentally and physically. We are essentially placing our faith in our desires rather than in our Creator and Heavenly Father. Only when our faith is placed in God can we be filled with true happiness.

I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.”

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. 

You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence,  with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Psalm 16:2, 9-11 (NIV)

Is your faith in the pleasures of this world, temporary treasures that are here today and gone tomorrow? Or is your faith in the Giver of good things in your life and the Author of your Joy?

What is your Foundation?

Just like your house needs a firm foundation to keep it from slipping, sinking or falling apart, so does your life need a secure foundation in order to weather the storms that come your way. Unlike the several types of house foundations, though, there are only two options for the foundation of your life: Rock or Sand. Take a look at what Jesus has to say about your foundation:

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:24-27‬ (‭NIV)‬‬

You see, your life’s foundation is your faith put into action. And the consistency of that foundation depends on where your faith lies (see question #1). If your actions, words and thoughts are driven by your faith in people, things or ideals, your foundation will be shifty and unstable just like the sands on the beach. If, however, you live your life in accordance with God’s Word, putting Him first and allowing Him to be Lord over every area of your life, you’ll find there’s no storm big enough to shake your Joy because your foundation is established on the Rock of your salvation!

Truly HE is my rock and my salvation; HE is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

‭‭Psalm‬ ‭62:2‬ (‭NIV)‬‬

Are you building your life on shifting sand by living out your misplaced faith? Or are you building a firm foundation by honoring God in every area of your life?

Where is your Focus?

There is nothing that can affect your happiness more than your focus. Even when your faith is sure and your foundation is firm, your focus can make the difference between a joy-filled life and a life consumed by negativity and sadness. When you choose to focus on problems, irritations, frustrations and other pains of life, eventually, that’s all your mind will be able to see. And what a shame that would be! God has given each and every one of us so many good things like family, friends, time, the comforts of home, hugs, beautiful mornings and on and on the list goes. Who would want to miss such wonderful blessings!

Focusing your attention on the positive is essential to maintaining your Joy each and every day. It reminds us of what is truly important in life and helps us to stay above those pesky, threatening waves of negativity.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

Is your attention on the negativity of life? Or are you focusing on the good gifts the Lord has given you?

What is your Hope?

At this point (if you’ve stuck with me this long), you may be saying, “Come on! Sadness is a given. There’s no way anyone can be happy all the time.”

You’re right. We all experience sadness, anger, regret, grief and every other negative emotion there is. We are human. We are going to misplace our faith. Our foundations are going to crack under pressure and our focus is most certainly going to be diverted from where it should be. And all of this will result in the loss of our Joy.

But if you take anything away from this post, I hope that you will remember this: No matter your struggles, no matter your sorrow, no matter your pain, it will not last forever. The God who gives us our Joy also walks with us through the storms of life. He comforts us. He leads us and more often than not, He carries us. And when the last rain drop has fallen and the winds have finally settled, He will remind us of His great Joy that has surrounded and sustained us through our troubled times.

Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.

Psalm30:5b (NIV)

That, my friend, is your hope. It is the hope to which I tightly cling.

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (ESV)

The Choice is Yours

There’s nothing easy about maintaining our Joy. I struggle with it more times than I’d like to admit but each time I let anger, hurt, disappointment or sadness overtake me, I try to remind myself of the questions of faith, foundation, focus and hope. Ultimately, though, hanging on to our Joy is a matter of choice. We can choose to live a life of misery or we can choose a life of Joy.

Though the fig tree should not blossom,
    nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
    and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
    and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
    I will take joy in the God of my salvation.

Habakkuk 3:17-18 (ESV)

When your happiness is being threatened, you have a choice to make: either give in and allow your circumstances to steal your joy or stand firm and hold tightly to the precious Joy of the Lord.

As for me, well…

I CHOOSE JOY!

Happiness is…

Adobe Spark (2)

As I was scrolling through Facebook on New Year’s Eve reading all the happy wishes for the New Year and all the smack talk over the highly anticipated Rose Bowl (Yay, Dawgs!), I came across a post that brought my scrolling to a screeching halt. It was a simple question asked by a friend from my high school days:

What makes one happy?

I stared at the post for a long time wondering what prompted the question. What circumstances surrounding that person’s life caused such an inquiry? Was he experiencing some deep emotional crisis and seeking clarity and encouragement from his friends and family? Or was he only curious, wondering what responses the question would provoke?

(Funny how Facebook does this to us. Unless you are closely connected to a person, you never truly know the full meaning behind every post. We’re often left to our imaginations which leads to conjecture, which leads to misunderstandings – one of the downfalls of social media. But that may be a topic for another blog post!)

After pondering all the possible reasons for his question, I felt the need to respond. The problem was I didn’t know how to respond. Because I was unsure of the “why” behind the question, I didn’t feel I could give an adequate answer. But, again, the urge to respond was strong. I began to type but quickly backspaced deleting my reply. I began to type a second time. I deleted it, as well.

“What is my problem?” I thought to myself. “Of all people, I should be able to give an answer to a question about happiness. After all, I did just complete a whole year of posts about finding and sharing SMILES!”

I stared at the Facebook post a while longer but ultimately, I moved on feeling a bit defeated. The question, however, has not moved on from me. In fact, it has prompted even more questions:

What is real happiness?

How does one find happiness?

Once you find it, how do you keep it?

How can one be happy in the midst of a sad and troubled world?

AM I COMPLETELY OVERTHINKING THIS?

Maybe.

Maybe not.

The more I ponder, though, the more I realize the importance of knowing the meaning of happiness, the source of happiness and the keys to maintaining happiness.

So, what is happiness?

Take a quick survey on your favorite social media site. Most likely, you’ll find that when asked the question “What is happiness?”, people will respond with an object, a person or a moment. I actually tested this assumption on Facebook. My post simply asked others to finish the sentence “Happiness is…” with the first thing that comes to mind. Here are some of the answers:

“Happiness is an endless supply of dark chocolate.”

“Happiness is family.”

“Happiness is the beach.”

“Happiness is bread.” (I love this one! She’s been on the Keto Diet.)

“Happiness is grandkids.”

I realize I may have skewed the results somewhat by qualifying the responses but even these lighthearted answers from my unsuspecting test subjects (Forgive me, please!) can provide insight into how we, as a society, define happiness. In general, I think many of us view our happiness as being contingent on something or someone.

If I can buy that new car, I’ll be happy.

If I can find a spouse/girlfriend/boyfriend, I’ll be happy.

If I get that promotion, I’ll be happy.

If he says that he loves me, I’ll be happy.

If she does this –

If I obtain that –

If –

If –

If –

Thus, if our happiness depends solely on others or on things, the logical conclusion is that happiness is nothing more than a feeling or an emotion. And if that’s the case, boy, are we in trouble! Happiness, as it turns out, is quite fickle. Think about it. What makes me happy today may not necessarily make me happy tomorrow. Let’s say I get that new car I was certain would bring me happiness but I find that after a few weeks of driving it, I really don’t like it. What then? I become dissatisfied and – Bam! I’m unhappy, again.

Surely, the happiness we so desperately pursue is more than a mere ride on the emotional roller coaster of life!

Surely…

Today, I again came across my friend’s Facebook question that prompted me to delve into the true meaning of happiness and to my surprise, I found that I’m not the only one who couldn’t offer an answer. After four days, he’s received only one response. Could it be that we’ve become so jaded by the disappointments in our pursuits of happiness that we no longer believe in the possibility of a happy life? Have we settled for a mediocre life over an abundant and joy-filled life?

Well, my friend, hold on. There is an answer to your question and I have to tell you, it’s a good one! There is hope for happiness and we’ll dig into that hope in my next post.

Keep reading! Part Two of “Happiness is…” will be posted soon!

 

A Year of Smiles – Day 365

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Reason to SMILE #365: A NEW YEAR

It’s New Year’s Eve! The countdown to 2018 has begun. Many of you may be getting all gussied up and will soon be heading out to a New Year’s Eve celebration filled with music, laughter, excitement and fun. Others, like me, are getting all gussied down (Is that a thing?), cozying up on the couch in pajamas and looking forward to a quiet evening with the family. Well, at least, until the neighborhood fireworks begin.

Whatever your plans this New Year’s Eve, please be safe. And remember to look out for the SMILES. They really are all around – in the little moments, the connections with others, the quiet thoughts, the striking revelations, the selfless acts of kindness, the gentle tears, the rays of hope and all the many different gifts God allows in every minute of our lives in order to grow us, mature us, and bring us closer to Him.

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With the new year comes new opportunities for so many SMILES. So keep your eyes peeled. God is always doing something new.

Happy New Year!

A Year of Smiles – Day 359: The SMILES of Christmas

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Christmas SMILE #25 (Reason to SMILE #359): THE MIRACLES

He became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1:14 (ESV)

The miracle of God With Us began with Christ’s advent to earth as a baby but it is not constrained to one day in the past. The miracle of God With Us is experienced every day in the life of the Christian. From the moment of salvation, Christ fills us with his Spirit and continually fills us with his character, his forgiveness, his love, his grace and his mercy.

Have you experienced the miracle of Christ’s birth in your life? If not, there’s no better day than today.

Does it really matter for me that Christ was born if Christ is not born now in my life and my time?

– Author Unknown

May we always remember the miracles of Christmas – Christ’s coming to earth as a baby, to our lives as Savior and Lord and again to earth one day as our Victorious King.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

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A Year of Smiles – Day 358: The SMILES of Christmas

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Christmas SMILE #24 (Reason to SMILE #358): THE MOST PRECIOUS GIFT – JESUS

Frank strolled into our worship service one summer evening about two years ago.  He wore an old flannel shirt, cast-off work pants and a knit snow cap.  His clothes were ragged and dirty and his hair and beard were unkept.  No one could tell his age and Frank did not give an answer when asked.  He had no family to speak of nor did he have a home.  That particular night, Frank needed a place to get out of the rain for a couple of hours but he soon became a regular in our midst.

We learned a lot about Frank over the next few weeks.  Some things we learned from Frank himself; some we learned from local shelters and others we learned just from watching.  One thing we quickly learned, though, was that Frank loved music.  At the beginning of every service, Frank would sit on the front pew of the sanctuary.  He would clap and sway as the hymns and praise choruses were played.  He would sing as loud as he could and would applaud with great appreciation at the end of each song.  But as soon as the music stopped and the preacher began to speak, Frank would move to the very back pew, lay his head against the wall behind him and take a nap in the comfort of our sanctuary.  This ritual was a bit disconcerting to our pastor but harmless, nonetheless.

Our friends at the local shelters informed us that Frank was mentally challenged and as we observed Frank on his regular visits, we began to realize that Frank was more like a child than a grown man.  This explained his delight of all of the children in our congregation!  Often, Frank could be found at the children’s welcome center, passing out crayons, pencils and papers to the little ones.  Some of our parents were concerned with Frank’s involvement but all of our children loved him.  He laughed and played with the children and made each one feel welcome.  And boy, did Frank love to hear those children sing!

Before we knew it, Christmas had arrived.  The children’s choir had been practicing very hard for the Christmas pageant that year because each choir member knew that Frank would be in the congregation.  The special evening came and Frank sat in the front pew, as always.  He was fascinated with the manger scene on the stage and could barely sit still as he waited for the service to begin.  Finally, the children, dressed as sheep, cows, pigs, shepherds and angels, entered the sanctuary.  Frank stood and cheered and all the children giggled with excitement.  After Frank settled down, the music began and Frank watched as the children of our church told the story of Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus.  No one had ever seen Frank so attentive and when the choir sang its final song, Frank stood and cheered once again.

After their performance, the children made their way from the stage to their parents in the congregation and the pastor made his way to the pulpit to preach.  Once in the pulpit, the pastor was surprised to see Frank still seated in the front pew and not settled in the back pew for his evening nap.  Though quite curious, the preacher began his Christmas sermon, looking down occasionally to see if Frank was awake.  Frank was awake, indeed, but he was not listening to the preacher.  You see, before little Mary left the stable stall that evening to sit with her parents, she placed the baby doll used in the pageant to portray baby Jesus back into the manger.  Frank’s attention was fixed on the little baby.  Then halfway through the sermon, Frank suddenly stood up.  We all thought that Frank was headed to his usual back pew but Frank was headed in the opposite direction.  Before anyone could react, Frank had made his way to the nativity scene on stage.  The pastor, still trying to keep his wits about him, nodded to a deacon to go after Frank but neither the deacon nor anyone else in the congregation was looking at the pastor.  All eyes were on Frank.

No one knew what to do.  Our first impulse was to grab Frank and pull him back to his seat but our curiosity kept us frozen in our pews.  We watched as Frank stood near the manger where the little baby lay.  Scratching his head and then wringing his hands, he inched closer and closer to the baby.  He reached down toward the baby but quickly pulled back his arms.  He looked out at all of us then back to the baby.  At this point, the pastor realized that God had a different plan for the evening, and he gave up all attempts at finishing his sermon.  The sanctuary, filled with hundreds of men, women, boys and girls, was still and quiet as God’s message of love and grace began to unfold in front of our eyes.

Frank’s obvious confusion ultimately pulled him to his knees beside the manger.  He reached over to pick up the baby Jesus, and the sounds of tiny sniffles throughout the room grew into uncontrolled sobs as one heart after another began to break.  Quietly, a little angel slipped from her seat and made her way down the aisle of the sanctuary and to the side of Frank.  A sweet little voice said, “It’s ok, Frank,” as she gave her friend a big hug.  Frank knew this little angel – she shared her cookies with him every Sunday – so Frank asked his friend, “Do you know whose baby this is?”  “That’s baby Jesus,” she said emphatically.  “He’s God’s Son.”  Frank replied, “He’s all alone….just like me.”  The little angel giggled as she said, “Silly, Frank, that’s just a baby doll.  The real Jesus is in our hearts and that means we’re never alone.”

Tears began to roll down the face of our friend Frank as little angels, sheep, cows, shepherds and all the other children gathered around the baby Jesus, and our silence was broken.  Sweet melodies of Christmas rang out from the sanctuary piano and our hearts overflowed.  It took some time but the pastor finally convinced Frank that the baby in the manger scene was simply a doll but most importantly, the pastor was able to tell Frank about God’s love and the gift of His Son, Jesus.  That night, Frank left our Christmas service a changed man.  In fact, no one in that sanctuary was ever the same again.


Jesus, sent from heaven for you and for me, was a gift so precious that even a host of angels could not contain their great joy in telling the Good News of His birth nor could the shepherds, after seeing the baby, keep from sharing with all who would listen that the Savior had been born.  Yet, we often keep this gift to ourselves, storing it away for safekeeping and sharing it only on special occasions.  We celebrate Jesus’ birth and retell His story year after year then we walk away, leaving God’s Love lying in the manger.  May we be more like Frank this Christmas season and all the year through; may we embrace God’s most precious gift in spite of all that is happening around us and may we share His gift with the world.

A Year of Smiles – Day 356: The SMILES of Christmas

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Christmas SMILE #22 (Reason to SMILE #356): THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT

There’s something about this time of year that brings out the best in people. Children begin behaving, doing their chores without complaining, offering to help around the house – mostly to secure their place on Santa’s “Nice List”! Families set aside differences and grudges and gather together sharing, laughing and embracing freely and wholeheartedly. Even strangers stop on the street, at the stores and in restaurants to greet each other and wish happiness and joy to all those around.

Sure, the holidays can also bring out the worst in some people. Crowds at the mall, busy city streets and noisy public venues can test anyone’s patience and place a damper on Christmas cheer. But with every “Merry Christmas” I hear as I navigate this busy season, I am reassured that the spirit of Christmas remains alive and well. And when I return each greeting with a warm SMILE and a Christmas blessing of my own, I am doing my part to spread love and joy to a world longing for Christmas Spirit and longing for the Hope and Peace it brings.

Wouldn’t it be nice if our Christmas Spirit endured all year round?

Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.

– “Let There be Peace on Earth” by Jill Jackson-Miller and Sy Miller

A Year of Smiles – Day 344: The SMILES of Christmas

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Christmas SMILE #10 (Reason to SMILE #344): THE LIGHTS

There’s a house on my drive home from work that is decked with a huge display of Christmas lights. Glowing Christmas characters and flashing trees fill the yard. And if you tune into a particular radio frequency, you can even hear Christmas music playing along with the blinking lights. This house is a bright and cheery beacon of Christmas spirit on an otherwise dark and quiet stretch of road.

The lights of Christmas are beautiful and whether it’s a simple string of white bulbs draped over the azalea bushes or a grandiose exhibit of colorful luminaries dancing wildly to Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s “Carol of the Bells”, you cannot deny the cheer these lights bring to a dark and dreary world. And for the few brief moments we are enjoying their brilliant display along a neighborhood street or basking in their soft glow around the family Christmas tree, we find a sense of comfort, peace and joy. We forget our worries and we find a SMILE.

Then we drive down the road or unplug the tree lights and the darkness surrounds us once again, stealing away our security and contentment.

Oh, but the respite we find while enjoying the lights of Christmas does not have to end when their gleam can no longer be seen. The darkness does not have to overrun our lives. For there is a Light that brings unwavering joy and everlasting peace. This Light reaches the darkest crevices of our lives, drives out the shadows of our hopelessness and despair and brings hope to a weary world, to a weary soul, to a weary you and to a weary me.

This True Light of Christmas is Jesus. He is the reason for our celebration, the reason for our joy. He is the reason we can SMILE in the midst of our darkest nights.

The people walking in darkness
    have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
    a light has dawned.
You have enlarged the nation
    and increased their joy;

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:2-3a, 6 (NIV)

A tiny baby born in Bethlehem pierced the darkness of a dying world more than two thousand years ago. Though the shadow of death followed Him, the Light of the Son of God could not be extinguished, even on the cross. The Light of our Risen Savior and Reigning King still shines brightly for all to see today. And though the shadows of darkness threaten to overtake us, we’ve no need to fear. The True Light of Christmas has conquered the darkness so you and I can have life – a life filled with uncontainable joy!