Fear Not!

On that first Christmas night, shepherds were told to “fear not” and a multitude of angels sang out “Glory to God”.

How wonderful it would be to live a life where I “feared not” and sang out “Glory to God” in every circumstance.

I have been discovering how I tend to hold onto things tightly – sometimes without even knowing I’m doing it. When I’m seeking for contentment or purpose or life from anyone or anything other than Jesus I strive, and then I hold on tight to what I’ve been striving after. I become a fear motivated grasper!

Think about how Jesus did just the opposite when he came as a baby to this earth. He let go of his kingly rights. He let go of his place high and exalted above the earth and he became fully man, as well as fully God. He chose to humble himself and serve his father. He chose to be the primary player in the Father’s dangerous rescue plan. The plan who’s goal was to rescue us by sacrificing himself. He demonstrated his love for us, as Romans 5:8 tells us, while we were yet sinners, by dying for us.

As my husband and I find our life story, which has been going one way for decades, develop a plot twist. As we get knots in our stomach, yet at the same time feel God’s calming hand as we prepare to move across the country — we are being made to see how we have been holding onto a way of life. And yet we know that we’re not the rightful authors of our story. And we know that His ways are greater than our ways. And we know that Jesus is the only one we should be holding onto tightly.

We’re being asked to let go of some really wonderful things. Geographical nearness to our daughters. Our plans to care for my parents in the town where they’ve lived for 80 plus years. Our native land — California. Life shared with treasured family and friends. Our precious church.

And yet we’re being given some really wonderful things. A great job for Ron that will, God willing, provide us a good retirement. The chance to live by my brother after 30 years of living a continent apart. The shared adventure of living in a different state and in a home unlike any we’ve experienced.

And, new opportunities to play unknown roles in God’s story. Opportunities to be His witnesses to new people in new ways; perhaps in ways we’ve never dreamed of.

Jesus was asked to let go of some really wonderful things. And at first thought, I’m hard pressed to see what the upside was for him. But, when I read his Word, I’m stunned over and over to hear what he found to be the upside to this rescue mission he went on; this life he lived under human restraints; this death he suffered unlike any has ever suffered.

What did Jesus say was the upside? Our rescue. He said he was anointed – blessed! In Luke 4 he says,

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Our pastor spoke a couple Sundays ago about how one of the ways our faith can be built up is by looking at the big picture. Jesus modeled that. He believed His sacrifice was worth the big picture.

And so my Christmas prayer for myself and for all who read this blog, is that we will seek to live life a lot more openhanded. And that the only times our hands are grasping they are grasping for the nail scarred hands of Jesus. I pray that we trust God with our circumstances, knowing that the big picture is worth it.

“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord”…“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

Clutter, Clutter, Everywhere

I learned something new about myself over the last few weeks.  I’m a pack rat.  How’d I miss that piece of self awareness before?  I was enabled; that’s how!  Twenty-four years ago my husband and I bought a 3 bedroom house with closets and a garage.  That was the beginning of being lulled into believing in the out-of-site, out-of-mind way of life.

And I’ve been such a hypocrite on top of it all!  I scowl at my husband for the ubiquitous pile of paperwork on our desk.  I lament that he has yet to go through chests and boxes that had belonged to his father.  I’ve entertained smug thoughts about how I couldn’t live in clutter.  All the while I’ve been shoving my clutter into closets, drawers, baskets, boxes and my garage.

And now is my day of reckoning.  We are moving to a 2 bedroom condo.  No den.  No garage.  No staircase with a “Harry Potter” closet hidden underneath.  A limited number of drawers.  No storage space to shove my undated greeting cards, jeans that are 2 sizes to small, workbooks from 14 past Bible studies, notes from 5 past retreats, framed photos (just how much money have I spent on frames over the years?), books that I fool myself into thinking I’ll read again some day, outdated AAA travel books, brochures from vacation spots, seasonal decorations, costume jewelry that I never wear, eye shadows and nail polishes that can’t possibly be good anymore, electric curlers that I used twice, shoes that hurt to wear, empty boxes that held electronics we no longer own, knick-knacks, paddy-whack, give the dog a bone!

I’m ready to embrace the new scaled-down life that awaits me. Apparently living a life of simplicity is all the rage.  You can even google “simplicity quotes”.  I spent time I could have spent cleaning out my closets, looking up these quotes!

Here’s a deep one:  “The cost of a thing is the amount of life which is required to be exchanged for it.” – Henry David Thoreau

“The greatest step towards a life of simplicity is to learn to let go.” – Steve Maraboli.  Preach it Steve (whoever you are).

“Unnecessary possessions are unnecessary burdens. If you have them, you have to take care of them!” – Peace Pilgrim.  (Or shove them in a closet, I might add).

“The more you have, the more you are occupied.  The less you have, the more free you are.” – Mother Teresa.  Well, I’m not going to argue with Mother Teresa!

In the past I would have written these quotes on index cards.  But, while going through my clutter I’ve found a bunch of index cards with quotes on them.  Man this decluttering my life thing is gonna’ be harder than I thought.