You Are Loved

Gina Butz identity, loved 0 Comments

you are loved

photo by Mona Eendra

How was everyone’s Valentine’s Day? Mine was less than stellar. In the morning I woke up feeling off, and by afternoon I had a fever, aches, a head that felt like it was going to explode, and what sounded like a case of tuberculosis. All this added up to making me the lamest Valentine’s date ever. We spent the evening eating Tijuana Flats in bed watching videos on our phones. Just how everyone dreams Valentine’s Day will be.

Tis the season to talk about love, think about love, hope for love, cherish love. But I can’t help but think how many people, even those of us who are married, even those who have deep relationships with others, long for something more.

We long to be loved. Our hearts ache for a love that is solid, never-ending, secure. We want to be fully known and at the same time deeply loved for all our good, bad, and even ugly.

Oh yes, please even for the ugly. Please tell us it’s possible to be consistently loved even at our worst, so that we can stop hiding our less-than parts behind closed doors and be fully ourselves instead.

Tell us it’s possible that there’s someone from whom we never have to fear rejection, abandonment, for whom we are never just too much, too hard to love.

I’m here to say today: it’s possible. It’s more than possible. It’s true. That is how we are loved. As I thought about what I wanted to share this week, every part of my being wants to tell you this truth:

You are loved. Period. The end. No ifs, ands or buts. You are deeply, without hesitation, loved, with an all-encompassing love.

How do I know? Because the whole of scripture tells me it’s true. The Bible is a love story, friends.Twitter It’s one long epic tale of the hero who stole into enemy territory under cover of darkness to rescue the ones He loves, because the thought of eternity without us was unacceptable to Him. We were worth everything. We are worth everything.

He first loved us. That’s important to remember. He doesn’t love us because, or when, or if. He just loves us, with a love that is unshakeable, unchanging, unconditional.

I can’t think of a better way to phrase it than how Henri Nouwen put it in Life of the Beloved, “My only desire is to make these words reverberate in your being, ‘You are the beloved.'”Twitter

Seriously, if I have one prayer for all of us today, it is that we would live loved. We would stop wandering, searching for lesser loves to satisfy our hungry souls. We would stop doubting, stop believing the lie that there’s something we can do to get us voted off His island. We would stop listening to the voices that tell us to prove our worth, and we would just soak in this truth today:

You are loved, you are loved, you are loved.

So maybe your Valentine’s Day was a bust. Maybe loneliness gnaws at the corners of your life and causes you to question your value. Maybe you’re feeling let down by people in your life. Maybe you’re feeling the sting of rejection. We’re all hungry for just a little more love.

So let me say it again: You are loved. May this thought echo off the walls of your hearts today. Repeat it to yourself until it becomes the place where you live. He loves you. 

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Related posts:

The Lies of “Too Much” and “Not Enough” 

 

Lean In

Gina Butz dependence on God, faith, grief, trials 16 Comments

Where to lean in when life is hard

photo by Ben White

The last couple weeks I have been witness to all manner of hardship around me. The sudden death of a son. Adopted children wrestling with trauma and fear. Inconclusive test results. Two attempted suicides. A mysterious illness in a child.

Moments like this rattle us to our core. They remind us that the world is fallen, and we are frail. They speak to our smallness, and our need for a solid place.

Pleas to God for comfort and peace and hope are intermingled with the aching questions of, “Lord Jesus, why?” and, “What now?” and “Where are You?” There is a desperate clinging to that which is good, mixed with a wonder and confusion of how we continue to navigate this world that is so hard and uncertain.

And when I ponder it myself, here’s what keeps resonating in my soul: Lean in.

So I lean in to His voice whispering to me through the questions and the confusion, “Come closer, sink deeper. Find a place of solace where your soul can exhale and rest. I’ve got this. I’ve got you.” I set aside what I do not know and grab hold of what I do.

Lean in, friends. Lean harder. Lean in to the One who sees it all. Lean in to the One who loves you. Lean in to the One who is more than able. Lean to the point where your feet don’t even touch the ground anymore and you’re just carried by Him.

He can handle it. He’s strong enough. He is our ezer kenegdo, our warrior helper, who fights for us and helps us.

Don’t just throw your worries at Him hoping something will stick. Don’t just hope for the best. Lean in to His promises like your life depends on it. Lean in with faith and hope and trust.

Don’t let your unanswered questions drive a wedge of bitterness or hopelessness between you and the very one who knows what you need and wants to walk with you in this. As Hudson Taylor said, “It does not matter how great the pressure is. What really matters is where the pressure lies-whether it comes between you and God, or whether it presses you nearer His heart.” 

The promise of abundant life is not the promise of a painless life. It is not the promise of a happy life. It is the promise of a life where His resources for us are plentiful for what we will walk through. It is the promise of a place where we can always lean in and find what we need for the journey.

So lean in with your fists, if you must. Lean in with your wailing and doubts and anger, and beat your hands against His chest until it dissolves into grief and you let Him hold you.

Lean in with the faith of a child and rest. Lean in to His comfort and peace, to the place where you don’t have to have answers or direction-you just know that someone holds those for you.

Lean in to His embrace. Lean in to listen to His heart beat for you. Lean in to hear His voice speak over you the very words you long to hear. Lean in because that’s where you will find what you need.

You can never lean too hard. You can never push too much. You can never topple Him or ask more than He can offer. He is our solid oak, our life raft, our shelter, our rock in the storm. Lean in.

 

If you’re new here, welcome! Join me on the journey by subscribing to receive posts straight to your inbox and receive my 8-day devotional It Is Well with My Soul as a thank you! 

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Related posts:

Let Go and Let Him Hold You

 Cease Striving

Peace and Hope Amidst the Storm

Why I Don’t Teach Sunday School . . . or . . . Finding My Yes

Gina Butz expectations, grace, identity 8 Comments

Why I won't teach Sunday School . . . or . . . finding my yes

You will never see me teaching Sunday School to children.

It took me years to be able to say that without embarrassment. What kind of person isn’t willing to teach children? Does Gina not like children? Does she not see the great potential in shepherding young souls? These are the questions I was sure people would ask.

When my kids were little, and someone stood up front at church to talk about how important children’s ministry is (I swear in the background I could hear Whitney Houston singing, “I believe the children are our future . . .”) I would sink down in my seat, refusing to make eye contact, feeling terrible.

Then, one day, it hit me, “I am not called to this.” And suddenly I was free. I felt like Phoebe, in the pilot episode of Friends:

Learning to say yes to the right things

I don’t want to because it’s not what I’m supposed to do. I am called to other activities, things that you probably don’t want to do. I know this, because often when I tell people what I enjoy doing, they get a look on their face like they just smelled something weird. They would hate what I love. And that is as it should be. We weren’t all given the same passions or gifts. How boring would that be? And ineffective. This isn’t Divergent. Five factions isn’t going to cut it.

Since coming back to the States, I have had opportunities to minister in a variety of ways unavailable to me overseas, which is fabulous. What’s hard is being discerning about what I should and shouldn’t do.

At first, I felt I should say yes to everything because if I didn’t they might stop offering. Over time I’ve learned that when I say no to less ideal opportunities, it leaves space to pursue that which I love. God knows the good way I should walk, and He can guide me to the best yeses. There is great freedom and joy in knowing that I am learning to give my time to what I am created to do, rather than just doing what I see, or what is asked of me. I want to give my energy to the activities God has for me, not what others want me to do.

Also important is knowing that, in saying no, I am leaving space for someone who truly IS called to do that. And I hope she does. She probably will, because she wants to say yes. And I will say yes somewhere else. There, we will both find joy and life.

So go ahead, ask me to teach Sunday School. I will politely decline and feel no remorse. It’s just not my calling.

What about you? What are you saying yes to today?

 

If you’re new here, welcome! Join me on the journey by subscribing to receive posts straight to your inbox and receive my 8-day devotional It Is Well with My Soul as a thank you! Just enter your email in the box on the right. 

 Related posts:

Stand at the Crossroads

Learning to Respect My Limits

Drop the Hot Dog – Learning to Feed on What Truly Satisfies

Gina Butz dependence on God, expectations, identity, loved 4 Comments

What is your soul settling for?

photo by Mike Kenneally

Confession: While I deeply want to be loved for who I am (and fear that I might not be), I will settle for admiration. It feels like love. But that’s like eating a hot dog, when what I need is rich soul food.

It’s easier, feeding off admiration. It’s more accessible, more within my control, to seek out the praise of others, then it is to lay myself bare before them and hope I am enough in myself. I can pour my energy into dazzling others with my gifts and tell myself I’m satiated while my true hunger lies under the surface, unmet.

We all have our hot dogs.

Our hot dogs are those easy, cheap, artificial substitutes for what our hearts deeply crave. They are the worldly foods we eat that we hope will bring us life. They are what we settle for eating because we don’t believe our true needs will be satisfied.

We all settle for something lesser to satisfy our souls. We want to be wanted, but we settle for being needed. We want relationship, but we settle for false peace, based on a fear of confrontation. We want intimacy, but we settle for staying in control, hiding our weaknesses where they cannot be touched. We want to be our true selves, but we’re terrified people will reject it. We try to feed ourselves on competence, reputation, usefulness, perfectionism, security, self-righteousness, self-sufficiency, busy schedules and so much more.

A few years ago, the taste of success began to sour for me. Oh don’t get me wrong-I will always love the feeling that I have accomplished something. I will never fail to appreciate admiration. But it occurred to me that I could feed off success all day long and twice on Sunday and never satisfy the deep hunger of my soul to be known and loved for who I am. That is a desire for which admiration is a pale substitute.

It felt like I woke up one day and realized I have been feeding myself bread made from sawdust. Worse than a hot dog. That is the act of a person who is starving and must feed herself any way she can. It is the act of a person who doesn’t believe there is manna for her to eat instead.

God in his mercy keeps showing me ways I am trying to find life and love where it is not meant to be found. He keeps drawing my eyes back to Him and His provisions. He loves me too much to let me go hungry.

He’s been calling me to drop the hot dogs, telling me to stop trying to feed myself something that isn’t going to satisfy. (We can have a pretty tight grip on our hot dogs. Sometimes He has to outright smack them out of our hands. Word to the wise-just let go. It’s easier).

Instead of our hot dogs, God is offering us a feast.

When we stop scrambling to feed ourselves we see how He is providing rich food all around us. We see the manna of His presence, peace, joy and love in all the ordinary moments He gives us throughout the day. He is constantly trying to feed us.

As I step back from seeking admiration, the deeper hunger of my heart has come to the surface. I am learning to own the hunger, to feel it more deeply rather than ignore it. I hear His invitation to the feast and am discovering that the call to feast on Him alone is more satisfying than anything I could feed myself.

Don’t believe the lie that the hot dog is the best you’ll get, that it’s what you need, or that what He offers isn’t better. Ask Him to show you what you are settling for, how you are trying to feed yourself. What you are searching for is found best in Him. He is the source of love, the bread of life. Be satisfied in Him.

 

If you’re new here, welcome! Join me on the journey by subscribing to receive posts straight to your inbox and receive my 8-day devotional It Is Well with My Soul as a thank you! Just enter your email in the box on the right. 

Related posts:

Stop Telling Me to Be Amazing

A Story of Two Houses 

Stand at the Crossroads

Gina Butz rest, transition, truth 0 Comments

He knows the path that leads to grace and rest. I have only to ask and obey.

It would never have been in my plans to make an international move pregnant, but that is exactly what I did in the fall of ‘99. When I was thrown into the newness of being a first time mama six months later, I was still wrestling to grasp a language as different from English as possible, learning how to lead a ministry alongside my husband, and finding my place in a new culture.

I was swimming in transition.

My love for our host country, coupled with a deep need for external validation, drove me through the spring to squeeze life out of every hour: studying the language while our son napped, taking him with me to meet students, our team passing him around as we met and planned. I once nursed him with one arm while wiping a poop explosion off the wall with baby wipes so I could finish in time to meet a student for discipleship.

I wanted to do it all. Six months later, I was overwhelmed.

To read the rest of the story, and how God used this verse from Jeremiah to minister to me, go to my guest post at (in)courage here:  Stand at the Crossroads

If you’re new here, welcome! Join me on the journey by subscribing to receive posts straight to your inbox and receive my 8-day devotional It Is Well with My Soul as a thank you! Just enter your email in the box on the right. 

The Power of Story

Gina Butz identity, loved 4 Comments

Do you know your own story?

photo by Gina Butz

“All children mythologize their birth. It is a universal trait. You want to know someone? Heart, mind and soul? Ask him to tell you about when he was born. What you get won’t be the truth; it will be a story. And nothing is more telling than a story.” The Thirteenth Tale, by Diane Setterfield

In the last few years, I’ve thought a lot more about my story. Partly this is from coaching others to know their stories, partly through reading To Be Told by Dan Allender, and partly it’s just the way God is leading me.

Many people think the past is just the past-over and done, let’s move on. But the past is part of us.

We are a composite of our stories and how they shaped us. There are messages on our hearts from every moment we have lived-messages about who we are, what it takes for us to find love and belonging, and how to safeguard our hearts.

The problem is that those messages are often fuzzy versions of truth, and they can lead us to seek ways of saving ourselves rather than calling us to rest in God. It’s unlikely we will change those messages, and the behavior that stems from them, unless we really examine the stories that told them to us.

And more importantly, we can’t know our stories well on our own. The last spring we lived overseas, a group of us met every other week to watch a video series by Dan Allender called Learning to Love Your Story. Afterward we broke into groups and reflected on what we heard. In the process, we told our stories to each other.

It’s interesting, when you tell a story from your life to someone else. You think you know it and understand it, but until you tell it to someone else, you don’t see it for what it is. I’ve had people tell me incredible sad stories, but they laugh while they tell them, not realizing that their laughter helps them avoid feeling the pain of what happened. I have told others stories, heard them say, “That must have been so hard,” and until that moment, I hadn’t realized it myself. We see our stories through a certain lens; we need help to zoom out and see them more clearly.  

When we tell our stories, others can ask questions and help us connect the dots to who we are in the present because of our past. They can help us see how what happened to us in the past still shapes us now, for good or harm. They can point us to wounds that need healing, sin that needs redeeming, lies that need the truth.

One of the greatest gifts is someone listening to your story, feeling it with you, and loving you in it. Here there is opportunity for healing and transformation. In telling our stories, others help us wipe the film from them to see the truth, to recognize the lies and vows we have embraced to help us save ourselves. They can give us the grace and compassion many of us missed in our stories the first go around. This is the power of story.

Do you know your own story? Do others know it?

 

If you’re new here, welcome! Join me on the journey by subscribing to receive posts straight to your inbox and receive my 8-day devotional It Is Well with My Soul as a thank you! Just enter your email in the box on the right. 

Related posts:

A Story of Two Houses

An Open Letter to the World 

Climbing 2017 One Step at a Time

Gina Butz faith, grace, rest 2 Comments

are you wondering how you'll reach your 2017 goals?

photo by Tobias Cornille

Two days into the New Year, and I whined to my husband, “I have too much to DO!”

“Like what?” he reasonably asked.

“I don’t know. EVERYTHING,” I told him (let me have this dramatic moment, mister). I have big plans this year, and those big plans are looming.

It didn’t help that I spent most of the last week and a half sick and fairly inactive. New Year’s Eve I was in bed by 9 pm (oh, who am I kidding? I’m always in bed by 9 pm, even on New Year’s Eve. A night owl I am not). After all that laying around, I came into 2017 like a racehorse fresh out of the box, like Pac Man ready to gobble down all the pac-dots and level up.

In all that down time, I was able to reflect on last year and dream big for this one. I filled that new planner with goals I want to accomplish and habits I hope to keep and books to read and ponies to ask for. I even added an extra page to capture the other roles and responsibilities I know God’s put on my plate for this year (I’ll send my planner 2.0 version to subscribers soon!). I immediately found myself wanting to chase down every goal, check every box, fulfill every hope that sprang to mind as I thought about this new year. And I wanted to do it before the end of the week.

It’s good and right to look ahead and hope for bigger and better, to plan for change and set our hearts in new directions. We want to lift our eyes from the path we’re on to see the next mountain we could climb. The problem is: mountain climbing is hard. Where to even begin? 

Some of us look at that mountain and think, “What was I thinking? I can’t mountain climb,” and we give up. Others, like yours truly, think, “Well, if I run, I’ll get to the top faster.” Moron. You can’t run up a mountain.

It’s no secret I’m not the best at pacing myself. This may be why so many resolutions fall by the wayside: we who are so accustomed to instant results struggle to see the mountain and know how to conquer it a little at a time. We don’t know how to do the long journey. We have seen what could be, and we want it now. We see how hard the journey will be, and we doubt our ability to endure. It’s easier to decide not to climb.

The Chinese have a saying, “千里之行,始於足下.” (Qiān lĭ zhī xíng, shĭ yú zú xià for those of you who are familiar with Mandarin, or who just want to have a slighter better chance of reading it) We know it as, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” 

It’s important to lift our eyes, to dream of what could be. We must keep it in mind, as we live with the reality that today, maybe I only inch toward it. Tomorrow, maybe I leap. Tomorrow, maybe I check a box, or I accomplish something big. Then the next day, maybe I rest, or I go back and do the same step again. We keep our eyes on the top while we take the next step.

This morning as I walked, I prayed about this. I was reminded that I want to hold goals and dreams and hopes that are God-honoring, that are from Him. I want to do what He has called me to do, nothing more, nothing less. So if these are the mountains He has given me to climb, He can help me climb them, one step at at time. He can guide my pace, give me grace for the days when not much happens, and strength for the days I need to push through.

So I ask Him, “What step should I take today?”Twitter Do that, and it is enough. Remember: we don’t just have all year. We have our lives to keep moving in the direction He’s leading. The journey continues each day, one step at a time.

 

If you’re new here, welcome! Join me on the journey by subscribing to receive posts straight to your inbox and receive my 8-day devotional It Is Well with My Soul as a thank you! Just enter your email in the box on the right. 

Related posts:

Learning to Respect My Limits

When You’re Starting the Week Weary

When You Just Have to Do One Day at a Time

Free 2017 planner!

Gina Butz expectations, growth, word of the year 8 Comments

free 2017 planner

I love planning, calendars, setting goals, and checking boxes. End of the year reflection and future planning is my jam. I have tried so many kinds of planners, but none of them quite fit my style. Then digital products came along and the battle between cute, paper planners and practical, accessible apps on my phone began.

Enter Gina’s personal planner of 2017. I finally just broke down and made one that suits my needs. I wanted something that helped me start from 10,000 feet, reflecting on the previous year, and thinking through my vision for the future year. I’m moving away from a word of the year, and going back to good old goals, because I have a few. I made something that helps me look at how I’ll reach those goals each month and even each week. I’ve done a poor man’s version of this on my iPad since summer and it’s worked well. Now it’s a little more organized, and in a form I can use digitally. I use google calendar for my day to day, hour by hour planning, but this is where I will go to remind myself of the big picture. It’s also got a place to remind myself of daily habits I want to keep, my must read books for the year, and my “Ask for the pony” prayer requests.

So I thought I’d share it with you. I don’t know if it will be helpful or not, but feel free to download one and give it a try! There’s not much difference between these four options except the covers and a little internal font and color tweaking. I’m planning to download mine into Notetability on my iPad, but you could print it as well. I only made one weekly planning page per month (I’m just planning to erase mine each week and use it again) but you could print out more if you like hard copies.


free 2017 planner

download 2017 planner blue cover

free 2017 planner

download 2017 planner black cover

free 2017 planner

download 2017 planner flower cover

free 2017 planner

download 2017 planner arrows cover

I’ll leave you with my top 5 posts for this year, if you missed them or would just like to see them again. Thanks for reading, liking, and sharing them!

The Lies of Too Much and Not Enough

What I Want More Than Your Happiness

What No One Told Me About Parenting Teens 

How to Swimsuit Shop Without Shame

I Don’t Need Rescuing (Except I Do)

For those of you who subscribe to my blog, I’m planning to make a page on it starting in the new year where you can access past freebies like printables and my devotional, and where I will continue to add fun stuff for you (hoping to add a short e-book soon!). If you aren’t subscribed, please do, and you’ll be invited to my super-secret-subscribers-only page too!

Happy New Year!

In Search of the Perfect Christmas

Gina Butz Christmas, grace, peace, rest 0 Comments

Are you looking for the perfect Christmas?

photo by Ben White

So I almost ordered 300 Christmas cards this year from, “The Carter family.”

We are not the Carter family.

Every year, I chase this illusive idea of a perfect Christmas. In my scenario, all gifts (and I mean all) are purchased by December 15th at the very latest. One day of baking suffices for all the places and people who require me to give them creatively arranged sugar. No child ever asks me to help them get a gift for a classmate/outreach/teacher by tomorrow. All the cards and gifts for friends are doled out early on, leaving plenty of time to simply enjoy the holidays, drink chai latte, and let Alexa play me Christmas carols all day.

Then there are the deeper desires. I want beautiful family memories, traditions we all love and embrace. I long for harmonious relationships, the Norman Rockwell family gathered around the fireplace. There is unity and love and warmth.

But sometimes you almost order cards with someone else’s name on them. Sometimes you try to make a gingerbread house and it nearly drives you insane. There are more cookies to make, more gifts to buy, things are out of stock, there are too many parties, and the tree falls over of its own accord (I’m looking at you, tree of 2014).

There’s the awkwardness of unreciprocated gifts and cards, stilted conversations with family members, tiptoeing around the topics we know ruffle feathers. There is a new empty space at the table. There are missed flights, disappointed expectations, stressful coordination of schedules and outright painful interactions.

You start to wonder if you could just not participate in Christmas this year.

But there’s still a perfect Christmas to be found. It’s a Christmas where we search hard for Jesus, and when we find him, we cling to him like nothing else matters. Then, in a weary world, we can rejoice.

After all, the first Christmas was an imperfect one, but it still ended well.Twitter

I’m sure the Christmas story was not what Mary had planned. She didn’t want to be an unwed mother, traveling during her last month of pregnancy, forced to give birth in the stench of animals, far from her family.

Joseph never wanted the stigma of his fiancé being pregnant. He didn’t ask for the hassle of traveling to his hometown. He wouldn’t have chosen to become a refugee in Egypt to protect his son.

But this is how God orchestrated sending his son to us. And in the end, it was all good, because we got Jesus.

The perfect Christmas is one where we find Jesus. Twitter

You do not owe the world a beautifully decorated house or a slew of Christmas gifts. You can send them a picture that claims you are someone else, and they will still know who you are. You can skip a party. The tree can be lopsided.

You can say no to the strained relationships because they make it too hard to focus on enjoying Jesus. You can risk what others will think if you don’t participate in sending Christmas cards or go to another party because your soul needs time to breathe instead and remember what is most important. You can step away from the bustle and let him speak to you.

The perfect Christmas is one where we are lost in the wonder of what he has done, and our souls feel their worth. Let’s chase that with more energy than we chase the outward appearance of it.

So let your Christmas be imperfect to make room for him. Leave off one more gift to enjoy his presence. It’s ok if the ornaments break because he’s still coming. Have less time with people and more time with him. Step away from what is trying and rest in his peace. Let yourself soak in the reality that you are loved more than life. Ponder the Christmas story, and what it means for your life.

Find him, and you will find Christmas.

 

If you’re new here, welcome! Join me on the journey by subscribing to receive posts straight to your inbox and receive my 8-day devotional It Is Well with My Soul as a thank you! Just enter your email in the box on the right. 

Related posts:

Why Christmas Reminds Me to Hope in God

Don’t Miss Christmas

Death by Gingerbread House 

The World Is Dark, but We Know the Light

Gina Butz Christmas, grace, hope, loved, peace 0 Comments

The world is dark, but we know the light that brings life

This has been a divisive year. Lines have been drawn and ugliness has risen to the surface in many places. Sometimes the darkness feels all too strong.

Jesus understands that kind of world.

When he entered it, the Jewish people had endured 400 years of silence from God. They lived under the oppressive rule of Rome. Soldiers walked the streets. Riots were not uncommon. Even within Judaism, there was division, as four sects fought for control. Shortly after he was born, Jesus and his family were forced to flee to a new country to avoid Herod’s massacre of children under 2. Dark times, indeed.

The Jews wanted someone to take away the darkness. They wanted a Savior, but their idea of how they would be saved and from what was misguided. Jesus didn’t come as a military or political leader. He didn’t free them from Rome. He wasn’t about conforming governments to his will. He didn’t erase dividing lines between people. He didn’t make everything easy, or pave a straight, conflict free path for us. He didn’t eradicate evil. Instead, he shone a light into it.

Jesus is the light of the world

He was light in the darkness.

That light sets hearts free. He stepped into the darkness to make room for joy, peace, hope, mercy and grace. His light was life and love, come into the world, to transform us, rather than transforming our worlds to suit us.

We are not called to look at the darkness and be afraid. We are not meant to see it and complain and argue about what it all means. We don’t shake our heads and give up. We don’t wring our hands in despair.

We turn on the light.

We move into the world as people who know joy, peace, hope, grace, mercy, and above all, love. This is what we are about. We are about shining his light brighter and brighter. So this Christmas season, how can we remember to shine his light in the world?

We shine the light of hope. Our hope is in a person, not an outcome. We do not hope in government. We do not hope in society conforming to our standards. We hope in what he can do. We hope in what will be.

We shine the light of peace. Peace is not merely an emotion, but a state of reconciliation brought about through him. So where there is division and unrest, we speak peace. In the midst of chaos, we breathe peace.

We shine the light of joy. He gives us joy beyond circumstances, the joy of knowing him and being loved by him. That joy ought to show on our faces, in our spirits, in how we move through this world.

We shine the light of mercy and grace. Jesus came for the outcast, the downtrodden, the poor, weak and weary. We declare that the gospel is for the ragamuffin, for those who are not too proud to receive what they need. That starts with recognizing we are counted among the needy.

We shine the light of love. Most of all, the light that shines in the darkness declares that love overcomes. It overcomes the darkness in our hearts and opens the door for us to receive all that he offers us. Christmas is God’s shout of love to the world, a shout that makes the darkness flee. Let’s simmer in this reality long enough for it to show up in our actions, in our words.

Yes, the world is dark, but we know the light.

This Christmas, let’s seek ways to make the light brighter in what we say, how we treat others, how we make room for them, where we look for life. Let us be people who reflect the light to a dark world.

“for he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the son he loves.” Colossians 1:13

 

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Related posts:

Why Christmas Reminds Me to Hope in God 

Reflections on a Christmas Morning

Feel Your Worth