Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, friends!
I know it is not the first Monday of the month, however, I’m switching things up again. Since I am writing only one devotion each month, I felt it more fitting to post it on the first day of the month. So, whether you read this on the first day of the month, or the first Monday of the month, the last day of the month, or in another month altogether, Thank you for sharing this time with me!
God’s blessings to you and yours this Christmas and Epiphany Seasons!
In His love and mine,
Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them. James 4:13-17
This past month, just prior to Christmas, good friends of ours announced that he has been diagnosed with aggressive advanced prostate cancer. They are in our group of fifty-somethings, with grown children and a gaggle of young grandchildren. They are active, successful, and full of life. And in a blink of an eye their life changed. Yes, their life as we see it has changed, yet, in Christ, they continue steadfast with their focus on the Lord and their family, as they face this journey head on. They have become beacons of His light to the rest of us.
Yes, in the same way, in a blink of an eye, the focus of all those who know and love them has changed. It has affected not just how we desire to support and love this family. But it makes us reflect on how we see our own lives, our mortality and the great gift that Jesus is in the midst of such situations. It increases our appreciation for the relationships of those we love: our parents, our children, our grandchildren, while diminishing the importance of our ‘stuff’, our activities, and our personal, and at times self-centred, endeavours.
All these emotions, thoughts, and opportunities to reflect were piled upon my recent desire to realign my own life’s focus, as was the theme for last month’s devotion. God seemed to be solidifying for me the importance of letting go of my own personal desires- a position I thought I wanted but would not have permitted me to enter this time of personal reflection and realignment. Through all this pain came an even greater blessing. I came to realize I was striving for my wants, not God’s, and I was choosing earthly treasures, while denying my heavenly treasures and God-given blessings.
Well, needless to say, December has been a month of letting go of my own schedule and saying ‘yes’ to the needs of my loved ones’ schedules in the form of special one-on-one time with each of my sons, babysitting my grandchildren or simply helping out my daughter with the little ones, taking time to take over meals to support neighbours in their loss, or singing christmas carols to and praying over our friend recently diagnosed with cancer. It’s meant learning to say ‘no’ to my own schedule and to say ‘yes’ to others in my life. It has also meant learning to let go of the need to have my days, weeks, months planned out, and is teaching me to live in the moment and to appreciate what today holds. I still have a lot to learn, but I am trying to let go of needing to control the reigns of my life, while letting God direct each day, and in so doing, I am experiencing greater appreciation for the blessings in my life- my precious family and friends, my church and my service to them, my work and my colleauges, my home and my community. I am experiencing greater gratitude for the simple things, the unplanned things, the God-planned things, and in so doing, experiencing greater peace.
As a result, I have come to realize that I have been denying myself the opportunity to be totally thankful for today however it unfolds. So as I enter 2022, I pray that the Holy Spirit help me to remain focussed on the reality that the only assurance I have for each day is my dependence on the grace of God through Jesus, my Lord and Saviour, and His promise to love, protect, and guide me through each day. I pray that he guides me to accomplish his will for my life as I keep seeking him, until the day He calls me home. May this be your prayer and realization for 2022 as well.
Here is a prayer I start each day with. May you find it beneficial as well:
Dear Lord, on this day when the work of my calling begins anew, I pray that you create its beginning, direct its continuance, and bless its end. That my doings may be preserved from sin, my life sanctified, and my work this day be well pleasing to you. Through Jesus Christ, Your Son, my Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever. AMEN! Thanks be to God! (Now go joyfully to your work.) (Taken from LCMS Morning Prayer)