I have been pondering my word for 2013. It has become my custom to pick a word to govern my thoughts for the year. Last year, 2012 was "teachable" - and I concentrated on learning all He laid before me, trying to see the lessons in my days. I've been prayerfully considering my focus for 2013, and the winner is:
(drum roll, please) "to life!"
I want to concentrate on everything from the smallest of joys to the most gigantic of crises. I want to see and experience Life with Him, noticing the smallest of lessons. Making it through the pain in His grace, shouldering the sorrows that are inevitable, enjoying each day as it comes.
This past year was, for me, painful physically and emotionally. Yet He was watching over me - and I learned that I needed to rest in His promises - to trust in His words to me - to live in the moment.
There are several physical problems that are worrying my doctor. I think she takes it personally when my illness starts taking tolls she never foresaw - but how could she? My life is not in her hands - it is in His hands. And if He so chooses, things will get worse, or they will get better. I am losing my hearing, and possibly my eyesight, and my kidneys are not up to snuff. Some laser repairs on my eyes are on the horizon, and my hearing loss is very irritating to the people closest to me. Happily, they laugh with me when I repeat what I think I heard - sometimes is it far from what was really said! But I've noticed when I watch my church's services via Internet (ccgreenvalley.org) I hear every word. And so I do have things to celebrate, thanks to His mercy.
I have been thinking about that first Christmas so long ago. The town of Bethlehem was a dusty little hamlet in that day, packed to the gills with travelers for the census. It is still a dusty little hamlet to this day, swollen from time to time with pilgrims come to see "the cave" - now with a silver star overlaying the place where Jesus was born (on white marble, no less). I have to laugh to see the elaborate changes made in that cave - Mary wouldn't recognize it!
I prefer to imagine it as it was 2000 years ago. How tired and in pain she must have been from the long travel on the back of a donkey! How desperate Joseph must have been to find a place to stay to give her relief! How confusing was it for Messiah, the coming King, to apparently be birthed in a stable. Was Mary's heart envisioning a palatial birth up to the last minute? For money and warmth to suddenly spring forth, assistance at the birth, a place in a palace to rest up? And then at the purification to hear that a sword would pierce her heart someday. Was that a literal sword, she must have wondered? Or symbolic of some great sorrow? She didn't know - nobody ever explained details to her. She just bowed her head and submitted to the Lord, keeping these things in her heart.
After giving birth in a stable she must have wondered what other surprises awaited her!
And what of the mighty Pharisees? When the Magi arrived a couple of years later and shook up Herod, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. The Pharisees told him Bethlehem. 5 miles away.
Right next door.
Did they even bother to look? Supposedly they were awaiting Messiah themselves. If someone came asking where He was, and I was waiting for Him, I think I would have gone 5 measly miles to see Him.
They didn't stir a muscle. That tells me their attitude was locked in already. They had no intention of supporting any messianic disturbances that could take away their power. Power and pomp was what they lived for - don't bother them with details. They'll take care of any messiahs when they have to.
And so they did.
5 measly miles.
I ask myself, how far would I have gone? Would I have ignored the news, afraid of Herod's revenge if he thought I was shifting my allegiance? They used to say it was safer to be Herod's pig than his relative - the pig was unclean so he left it alone. His family aroused his suspicions - and once suspicious of someone, they were goners.
I've always wondered what Jesus thought of the world He created - and when He realized Who He was. His communication with His Father must have begun as soon as He was able to understand. Was he 5? 10? 13 and ready to be Bar Mitzvahed?
Did He know the details? Or was it slowly unfurled before Him with the passage of time - the form of death He would endure? The suffering it entailed? The betrayal by a friend? With a kiss, no less!
These are all questions without answers for the moment. But they leave a lesson of sorts with me: do I put off going to find Him - when He is a heartbeat away, not 5 miles? All I need to do is call that Name, and He is here. How much effort do I put in to know Him better?
Those questions do have answers - and I will be using my new word-of-the-year to explore them. Endeavoring to lead my Life in larger than life sized letters; trying to experience Him in any way possible. Walking through Life with Messiah, the Creator, my Savior.
"To Life!" "L'Chaim!"