Home for the Holidays

Psalm 68: 6

God makes a home for the lonely; He leads out the prisoners into prosperity, only the rebellious dwell in a parched land.

The holidays are a time of friends and family and yet for many people, it is the loneliest time of the year. A friend of mind mentioned recently that loneliness is a pronounced contributor to mental illness. Most of us have dealt with loneliness at some point in our lives but God is present to say, today, that we need not be lonely. We have a God who cares for us. Moreover, He is a caring, loving father and He has made a place for us in His heart.

I want you to know that God is actively thinking about you right now. He has plans for your well-being. Despite your current situation, you do not have to live apart from love. The transformation, however, often takes place inside of you first. Some of us are alone because some of our decisions led us into the place of aloneness. Whatever is in our hearts, though, that keeps us isolated, can be renewed so that we find a world of people who are willing and even desirous of spending time with us.

Have you ever felt you were living in a desert? I sure have and I never want to go back to those times. This verse says that our isolation in the desert came out of our rebellious nature. Those are not easy words to hear but for me it was true. When I relaxed into my relationship with God and ceased striving and toiling for everything, including hearing His voice, then I began to find a new relationship with Him. My effort and self-reliance separated me from Him. I tried so hard but finding is easy when you stop trying and simply open your eyes. He is right there, I promise, but we build such walls around ourselves that our perceptions become numb and His voice muted.

God created this entire planet, everything on it and even the solar system in which it revolves just so He could have a family. He didn’t create deserts for His children. Deserts exist in our lives when we do not allow Him to pour His living water into us. They are of our own making. He gave us Eden and we turned it into a desert. Here is the good news, though. We have the same power to renew Eden into the glorious garden of our heart where we can, and do, walk with God in the cool of the evening.

I pray that this Christmas season, you find new connections with your Divine Father and that those bonds lead you to increased relations with others so that you will never experience loneliness again. I pray that the joy of God’s heart will be reverberate in yours this season. When we connect with Yahweh in the way He intended, we never will feel alone again. Happy Holidays!

The Cure for Holiday Angst

1 Peter 4: 8        NIV

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

Does anyone struggle with this directive? On the one hand, it sounds like the simplest of all commands but in practice, it can be challenging. Life is sometimes annoying and there are plenty of people available to jump all over your very last nerve. With the holidays looming just beyond the horizon, the trials of your patience and love are lining up. How do we get in front of the oncoming tidal wave of challenges to our love walk? This is the time we must prepare.

I marvel at how Peter almost nonchalantly instructs us in the love walk. He makes it sound so easy. I find, however, that though I love greatly, love is not always what is expressed in times of stress. Am I exacting, demanding, intolerant or judgmental? The scars within us make it more difficult for us to stay in the expression of love when others press on our nerves. Sometimes we cannot find the means by which to navigate the personal relationship paths even though we search for the love road. Try our best, we often fail.

There is help though. Start being thankful today, thankful for a God who meets all our needs. Then talk to Him about this deep love Peter wrote about. If you journal, ask Father to describe this kind of love; what it looks like, what it feels like. Ask Him to reveal to you what Peter understood when he wrote today’s verse. What does Peter know that we may have failed to perceive? Remember, this is the same guy who whipped out his sword and sliced off the ear of the Roman soldier in response to perceived threat. In that instance, Jesus had to be the love that Peter’s writing reveals to us today. This is not a message from John, the love apostle. This comes from someone who likely had to discover the hard way what it means to walk in love.

Our Father can help us learn and develop just as Peter did. It is probably not enough, though, just to say, “Father, the holidays are coming and with them social events and the accompanying stress, so help me Father.” That is a good prayer but what is needful may be a daily communion with Him such that He can teach and instruct you.

“Help me, Father, to be who you designed me to be. Transform my heart and mind so that your love is the outward expression of my soul. Be with me, Father, daily, guiding and teaching me so that I can learn to love despite any challenges to a gentle, kind nature. Give me insight and compassion Lord. Show me your heart for others. Let me see the affection you have for each person I come in contact with. Heal the brokenness in me so that my injuries do not become the shadows that darken other’s lives. Lead me in the path of Divine Love.”

My best advice is to begin today in order to be ready for the holidays. As you allow Yahweh to touch your heart, His fingerprints will be the loving residue that you will be able to share with others. We can only give what we have first received so step one is allowing the Father to love you in new, unprecedented ways. Be blessed!