I don’t know about you, but Christmas is always a little hard on my soul. I love having family around, watching Christmas movies, great meals, getting presents for my wife and kids that I KNOW they will love. But spiritually and emotionally, at a deep level, I am usually very depleted.

It could be the busyness of the “season”, simply the end of a full-on year of life, battle with the secularization of Christmas, spiritual warfare or unrealistic expectations. Whatever the cause, the effect is what I want to reverse.

August of 2009 I recorded a video-blog on my time alone with God on my birthday titled Take Another Look. I think birthdays are a great time to recount our life’s story.  I think New Years is a great time to recount our length of days.

I have always been stuck by Moses statement, “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12) There is certain type of focus, intentionality and perspective that we gain when we understand the capacity or quantity of our life.

Christmas Eve, Leigh gives each family member a book. Last year, Leigh gave me a book by Charles Spurgeon, Power Over Satan.  Spurgeon wrote, “Among men there are some who know a great many important matters but act as if they do not know them. Their knowledge is so much wasted heaped up in the storeroom of their minds and never brought into the workshop to be used for practical purposes…we are not as earnest as dying men ought to be.”

He goes on to say how Satan is aware of his shortness of time in both this world and in a person’s life therefore “his evil nature is all on fire, and his excitement is terrible.” And, “how much the shortness of our time ought to stir our hearts…to ardency of love and fervency of zeal…in our days of sojourning here!”

Bringing into the workshop what God has shown me; becoming more earnest with who I am; stirring the fire within my redeemed heart -this is what I need.

Here a few of the questions I’m taking to God as the new year begins:

What is it that you have put in me that I am not fully walking in and offering?

What parts of my life are not fully awake, alive and free?

What is the season that I am coming into?

What am I lacking at this point that I will need for this coming season?

Where I’m I still living out of duty, obligation, expectations, guilt, shame or pressure instead of love, generosity, grace and passion?

What have you put on my heart that it’s time has come?

How am I to walk with others differently?

Are their things in my life that are not to be brought into this next season?

What have you revealed to me that I have not picked up on, noticed, understood or embraced?

I want to encourage you to snatch some time away with God alone if you haven’t already. It may be for a few hours or a few days. It may be in your favorite coffee shop, in your car at your favorite overlook, in a hotel room or retreat center. You and God, away, alone for a longer-than-usual time is what is needed.

Stirring the fires of ardent love and fervent zeal,

Gary

It’s amazing how we can think too little or too much. We can think about a desire or idea to the point of it’s suffocation or we can move on it without letting it fully form – to it’s demise.

God has given us these two pieces of counsel:

“Desire without knowledge is not good – how much more will hasty feet miss the way!” Proverbs 19:2 NIV

“Do what God’s teaching says; when you only listen and do nothing, you are fooling yourselves.”  James 1:22 NCV

Personality assessments tell us that we tend to be either more impulsive or more contemplative. Aside from “personality” theory I think, from all the stories I’ve heard over the years, we are predominately contemplative…or perhaps more accurately hesitant, suppressed, idle or passive.

I ran across this thought from Oswald Chamber in The moral foundation of life : A series of talks on the ethical principles of the Christian life:

“We are not meant to spend our lives in the domain of intellectual thinking. A Christian’s thinking ought never to be in reflection, but in activities. The philosopher says, “I must isolate myself and think things out”; he is like a spider who spins his web and only catches flies. We come to right discernment in activities; thinking is meant to regulate the doing….Think of the time we waste in talking to God and in longing to be what He has already made us instead of doing what He has told us to do!

Perhaps the increased understanding we desire about our life and calling can only be found in it’s offering (“activities”). Perhaps we are stuck, not for a lack of understanding, but for lack of initiated movement. Perhaps instruction will come as we create motion, as with a CD of beautiful music that cannot be heard or perceived until it begins to spin.

As I am writing these thoughts, I am reminded of the verse:

“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin…” Zechariah 4:10 NLT

Let’s offer together what we have at this moment, be it a little or a lot, and let it begin.

“Though your beginning was small, your latter days will be very great.” Job 8:7 NRSV

Gary