Walking out of the cave

Romans 8:38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers…
The unknown of life is a scary thing. So much of life is a little unknown. Little children may be fearful of water or new places, or even new food because so much is unknown to them about things. Adolescents have all kinds of nerves about school and relationships because so much of it is unknown. College students wonder where they will live, who they will marry, what life will look like for them- the unknown. In adulthood the unknown doesn’t stop – how best to raise a child, how they’ll turn out, tackling illnesses to come, changes in employment, moving, changes in anything- more and more unknown.
Our children really love the movie “The Croods.” (We do too, to be honest!) The entire movie centers around the premise that the dark cave is safe, nothing can get to you in there, the world outside holds dangers untold. The Dad in the movie has a family motto that he makes everyone recite – “Never not be afraid.”
We could live our whole lives like this, in our metaphorical dark caves, feeling “safe” and protected. God tells us that He wants to be our protection. He is what is safe, resting in His grace and salvation, living in His light, this is Life. Otherwise, it’s not Life at all, just a phony imitation.
Nothing can separate us. We’ll find that truth in the next verse. That truth is for another day. Today, Jesus invites us to shed fear.
            Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
                                                                           John 14:27

His peace rests in our hearts. The unknown is known to Him.

Exploring caves in Haiti 🙂

A reminder of the victory for the journey ahead

Romans 8:37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 
Christus Victor, Christ the victor, on the cross, risen, ascended. All the power of death and the devil, completely defeated once and for all! It is finished! That is the beautiful message of Easter morning.
            Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
            The strife is o’er the battle done;
            Now is the victor’s triumph won;
            Now be the song of praise begun. Alleluia! (LSB 464)
We are the conquerors. Vicariously we have the victory through Christ’s death and resurrection. Sometimes we relegate the victory to Christ and forget that He has given the victory to us in His atoning sacrifice. Death, the devil, the world, our sinful flesh…all defeated in our own lives.
This verse tells us that we are more than conquerors. The victory has been won and is continuously won, everyday in our own lives, as Christ lives and works in our hearts and our homes. ‘More than’, hupernikáo, utilizes an “intensive prefix” in Greek. We are exceedingly or overwhelmingly conquerors.
God’s work is powerful and real. We live in a powerful and real battle on this Earth. Satan tries to infiltrate our hearts, our marriages, our families, our churches. But we are exceedingly and overwhelmingly victorious. What a difference it makes to know the outcome of the war! We fight differently. We hold on tight as the battle rages. We hunker down and protect our family. We hurl the Living Word at Satan and fight the good fight to keep our hearts, our families, and our lives, because we know that Christ has already won. At times it doesn’t feel like you’re winning the battle, much less the war, but hold on to Biblical Truth. You are more than conquerors. Christ is in any and every situation in our lives with His victor crown.

Lord, You love us. You know what each day holds for our lives. Keep us in your Word. Remind us of your complete victory in every situation. We trust in You. In Jesus name, Amen.

Caves and Stables

And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and place him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
Luke 2:7

At our house every year, we watch the movie “The Nativity Story” during the advent season. It’s a fun tradition we keep with some friends and their children on a Sunday afternoon, for a little advent respite from the busyness of the season. There is a scene in this movie that strikes me every time I watch it, right to the heart. Joseph and Mark make the long trek to Bethlehem, arriving in the dusk, the beginning of night. Mary simply says, “Joseph, the child is pressing.” The next thing you see is Mary, a woman very much in labor, breathing and struggling through. Joseph is running through the street of this tiny town yelling “Please, is there a place for us.” He knocks no doors, he lifts up Mary and carries her, as if to try to carry her very burden. He’s still knocking and yelling, “Please is there no place for us!” How appropriately Biblical. There is no place for them.
And in my heart every year I think, when I see this scene-
This should not be! Someone, find them a place! Someone, give them a room, sleep on a different pallet for the night for pity’s sake! Jesus needs a place to be born!
And I wonder, is this the way it had to be? Did God have a specific prophecy about Jesus needing to be born in a cave, in a stable, in a dank, dark place? Did God have a not directly prophesied big picture plan here for us to see Christ’s humility so very early on?  Maybe, obviously it is useful for that. But is it necessary? Or is it just one more thing in this world that is just not as it should be…
There are so many things like the stable in our lives. So many things that just don’t seem right. They may not be deep injustices that need to be resolved and conflicted over and struggled through, but they are the smaller issues- the small slight from someone at church, the hurried words of someone just not thinking, or being in charge of the Christmas play for the thousandth time because no one else wants to do it, or calling someone in our family because evidentially it is just too much trouble for someone to be the person picking up the telephone first. I’m not sure what little things are in your life, but there are the things that yell – “This isn’t right! Does anyone have a place for me! Does anyone notice I’m trying so hard?!” 
A few chapters later in Luke 9, Jesus himself tells us, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Things are not has they should be still, for Jesus. Born in a manger, sojourning with us for 33 years, to walk the path to the cross. Nothing with beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, no place for Him.

So, how do we respond when we get the slight or the frustration or all the small issues that just should not be? We pick up, we move on, we give new birth and new life to the situation by God’s grace and power and mercy.  Because our caves, our stables, are to God still a thing of beauty, because they contain our Savior shining brightly in the midst of the darkness, in the dankness of every situation. 

What are you struggling with this advent season? Bring it to the Lord. He always has a place for us. Let’s share the small burdens together. He makes room in our hearts for each one of us to share the journey together.