29 November, 2015

Simply...a whole Heart

Crosspost from Adventagain.blogspot.com

Advent is here - the time of the year that we wait and look for the coming of our long-expected 
Savior.  So let's begin our quest.

Simply...My brain and stomach are just digesting all the turkey, dressing, gravy, cake and pie when suddenly I feel thrust into a Christmas frenzy.  I woke up Friday morning already feeling late in my Christmas preparations.  How can I be late when we are only one day into the Christmas season?  It seems the sales and Christmas trees and decor are fighting for my attention.  I'm somewhat defeated before I have ever begun.  I'm pressured and enthralled with my to-do list yet real life keeps happening too. Paris, the world, my children, a husband, service to people in need, the church services and so much more.  So what can I do?  How do I juggle all the life requirements, needs and pressure I feel?
One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”Mark 12:28-30
We find Jesus in the midst of brilliant, God-seeking, powerful leaders who are pumping Him with questions of all sorts.  Now certainly their motives were off and they were more interested in entrapment than truth perhaps; however, their questions remind me of my own set of questions that stay hidden in my heart.  How do I do it all?  How can I live this life to the fullest and according to God's laws without totally being exhausted?  How can my one little life count?

The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart...

Simply...love God with all my heart....my whole heart.  Whole heart?  Not half my heart so not half-hearted but all the way!  I don't know if I can!  For you see my heart is damaged because I've lived life for 57 years.  Even as life is joyful; it is also hard and painful.  In addition, there are so many ways I've hurt people.  And there are dark places in this heart of mine.  Its like I have a secret compartment that holds feelings of disappointment, shame, and guilt....and as a friend of mine once said, "an itty-bitty committee" lives there too and holds meetings to re-live all my most embarrassing moments!  This is the human condition.  

But....what I've discovered is the mind-boggling truth that God lives in whole hearts not partial hearts.  Yes,  He lives amidst all the stuff that makes us feel ashamed and hurt and defeated.  He can stand all my worries, disappointments and pain.  He can stand all my celebrations, joy and love too.  That is why He asks for our whole heart - He's already seen it, experienced it and lived it with us.  And as I give my heart to Him - He returns it to me - healed, cleansed and whole.  It's the story of renewal, of darkness transformed into light. He has knit my heart to His.

Simply...then there is Mary.  She knew this truth.  She loved God with her whole heart.  Mary was a virgin and engaged to Joseph.  Surely she was anticipating the days as a future bride.  I wonder if she and her mom had discussed the marriage plans and the celebration?  I wonder if she dreamed of her special day and her new husband?  Can't we speculate that her excitement was at least similar to what we ourselves experience?
And then an angel arrives with some unbelievable and life-changing news!  It was news that was shocking, news that would be out right devastating in her world.  Yes, news that would rock her world, Joseph's world as well as the worlds of their family and friends.  Let's be honest...this news was not what she ever dreamed or dare I say, wanted... And yet, Mary only says,
“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.... 
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled." Luke 1:34-38
Can that be my response these early days of Christmas?  “I am the Lord’s servant,”  Amidst all the unexpected surprises, all the chaos, all the stress, and the wrappings and tinsel...can I simply give my whole heart of love to those around me?

Simply...Christmas comes when He sends His whole heart to us...can I give Him my whole heart?  

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