Today’s post forms part of the December synchroblog Jesus Has Come – Did You Get What You Expected?. I will post the full list of submissions with links tomorrow.
In my preAdvent post Jesus Is Coming What Do I Expect, I wrote
Above all I am expecting to be changed by a fresh encounter with Christ during this Advent season…. Opening myself to be changed is never easy. Herod knew that the Messiah was coming but he did not want to meet him in fact he wanted to kill him. The Pharisees too knew that the messiah was coming but even when the saw the signs in the heavens and heard the rumours of his birth they made no effort to go and meet him.
I then added:
So much in my life still needs to be changed by the challenge of a God of love for whom justice, mercy and compassion are more important than right doctrine and theological correctness. I want to learn to follow that God with every fibre of my being and with every aspect of my life. More than that I want to learn to trust this God in new ways know that he will never leave nor forsake me. Trusting that no matter what the future holds, my life is always in his hands.
For me this Christmas season has been a journey into trust. And part of what I have realized is that it is impossible to learn to trust God unless I am in a position where trust is needed. As long as life is comfortable and I know where my provision is coming from I do not need to rely on God. Learning to trust means placing myself in situations that move me out of my comfort zone and force me to rely on God and not on my own efforts.
The unexpected truth that has burst on me during this season is that trust is based on love. It may seem self explanatory, but I realize that it is one thing to know this in my mind, it is another to have it lodged deep in my heart. If I do not believe that God loves me with a deep and unfailing love then I will never fully trust him. My abandoned child self, alone and isolated in a hospital incubator is still present deep within my being and there is a part of me that always believes God will once more abandon me to that place of painful isolation.
Surprisingly, Christmas is a time when many of us feel alone and abandoned. The festivity around us, the coming together of families, the exchange of presents can be exciting but also makes us aware of those from whom we are separated – loved ones who have died, family on the other side of the world, friends we no longer get on with. A growing number of churches hold Blue Christmas services to reach out to us in the midst of these feelings. Others use Advent as a time to reach out in new ways to the more obviously abandoned in our world – the poor, the oppressed and the marginalized.
All of us have an abandoned child buried deep within, but the message of Christmas I have most relished this year is that every abandoned place within us is fertile ground for the Christ child to be planted, to grow and to blossom. In learning to trust I have learned to allow the unfailing love of God to put down deeper roots into those abandoned places of my heart. Hopefully I have also allowed the Christ child within me to grow so that he can blossom in new ways in the year to come.
So in answer to the question Jesus has come did I get what I expected I would say yes and more than I expected. I came looking to learn about trust and found love and intimacy as well and I pray that as Tom and I go on retreat in a couple of days, this lesson will continue to blossom in my heart.
The other posts in the series:
Glenn Hager – Underwear For Christmas
Jeremy Myers – The Unexpected Gift From Jesus
Tammy Carter – Unstuck
Jeff Goins - The Day After Christmas: A Lament
Wendy McCaig – Unwanted Gifts: You Can Run But You Can Not Hide
Christine Sine – The Wait Is Over – What Did I Get?
Maria Kettleson Anderson – Following The Baby We Just Celebrated
Leah – Still Waiting For Redemption