In my mind faith used to be so easy.
Hope was filled with all my wants and desires.
Love was about what I could get from other people.
But lately I have learned that faith is bold, hope is humble, and love is selfless.
I look to people who have been put down their entire lives, and where they have been emotionally wounded by people’s words, and yet they step out with boldness to be who God created them to be. My heart is encouraged by their boldness.
I look to people who have lost everything that ever meant anything to them, and my heart is overjoyed when I know they are still hopeful in the midst of their tragedy, and it gives me strength to endure.
I look to people who wake up everyday with the desire to give more than they receive, and I am inspired by the selfless love they have for other people.
I look at my life and think back to what I used to think love was. It often meant using people so that I could feel better about myself, or more important.
I would often find myself manipulating and enabling other people just because I wanted them to love me.
I never really considered what I might be doing to them in the long run. Or that I wasn’t really encouraging them to be better, and to do better.
My hope used to be so unsteady. I would turn my back on God every chance I could get, wondering how or why He would allow some tragic things to happen. Life hasn’t gotten any easier, but I will say that I have gotten stronger. I feel as Christians we lose out on the fruit of endurance because we give up too soon. We lose hope, and I feel our hope is so unsteady because we have forgotten the purpose of hope, which is to strengthen us.
Faith was easy for me because in my mind all I needed to do was gain knowledge, and to live a life guarded by truth, and that was it. For me, faith was based off of my life of obedience, and performance as a Christian.
But I have learned that faith is about those moments where you are willing to go into those dark places.
Faith combats fear.
Hope strengthens us.
Perfect love brings healing.
They all work together, but the greatest of these three is love.
How can perfect love cast out fear is we are AFRAID of the dark? How can we truly love the sinner if we have no hope in our heart for their healing, or even ours.
My focus has been so off, but I am so thankful for grace, God’s amazing grace. I’m so thankful for the opportunity to find my purpose, and to live it out. I’m so thankful for the burden to fix people and their lives has been released from me. I’m so thankful that I can love you, and respect you, in spite of your flaws.
I’m thankful that I can love myself in spite of my own sin. I’m thankful that God loves me in spit of my own sin, too, because he loved us when we were still sinners.
Some of the most humble people I know are at a point in their life where they know they need Jesus. They KNOW that outside of the cross all their righteous acts are like filthy rags.
Faith isn’t about finding security in your works.
Hope isn’t just about this temporary life.
Love isn’t about using people.
Faith is about having a life that looks like what you believe in your heart. Hope is about all things eternal, it’s about the unseen. Love is about giving more than you could ever receive.
My life has been so turned upside down because now I know it’s not about me anymore. I am so OK with that because when it’s about me it’s never really all that satisfying anyways.
Everything is temporary.
More is never enough.
My desires never satisfy my heart.
Often I am left feeling used up and empty.
In the Bible it says that David was a man after God’s own heart. As we look at David’s life we can clearly see that it wasn’t David’s purity that made him a man after God’s own heart. Before David was anointed King, he was a shepherd. In his role as shepherd he took care of his sheep by often putting his life on the line, he protected and cared for sheep who would never be able to give back all that David gave to them. These sheep would never be able to protect David, or strengthen him, or even encourage him.
God has always been in the business of giving more than we could ever give back to Him. He created us and He eventually gave us eternal life through His son Jesus. David gave more than anyone could ever pay him back. This is why I believe David was a man after God’s own heart.
So often we talk more than we listen, take more than we are willing to give. I would like to believe that if we are in the business of giving, God will be more than willing to provide for us. But this happens in so many ways other than giving with our money. It can be difficult to not feel used in the world when we give and people have no idea that they are taking more than they are giving back. But to be someone who is after God’s own heart, and to live a life of faith, hope, and Love we need to be willing to let go of this sense of entitlement, and embrace the beauty of giving more than we will ever receive back.
SO today my heart is focused on what truly matters, and in this world it can be difficult to do that when we feel that all we give is never returned. But God has His ways of providing for us, and when we release our expectations of what that looks like then we will SEE all that He has for us, and we will find the encouragement and fulfillment we are all looking for.
No matter what Christmas was for us in the past, it seems like every year it has the opportunity, and the possibility, to be something completely different and brand new. That’s what Jesus brought with Him as He was born into this world; He brought with Him a clean slate, a fresh start, and something brand new to our lives and to our faith.
Today I invite you to come and take this imperfect advent journey with me to discover the beauty of the good and perfect gifts God has given us through His Son Jesus. Let us journey together to discover what those gifts are, how we can receive those gifts, and most importantly the importance of being a good steward of those gifts.