Christmas! It is the season of miracles and mystery, memories and music and moments where God’s grace touches our lives in unexpected ways. For me this Christmas, I am full of gratitude. I am so grateful to be alive and grateful for the joy of being able to sing the beautiful carols of the season. You see I have spent the last month in doctors offices and lab rooms with test after test on my body and my throat. Words from professionals were flying around the examining rooms like “cancer is a possibility and you have a cyst on your larynx. We will have to send you to the best specialist in the area. Surgery that could affect your vocal chords will need to be scheduled.” To a professional singer those words can easily breed fear into your soul. I have been on total and partial vocal rest for six weeks and that is not easy for anyone, especially a singer and a voice teacher.
But I have been blessed through it all because I know the One who holds my future and my voice. I have faithful friends who have prayed me through, lifted my health up day after day before the throne of God, and encouraged me to persevere through the days of uncertainty, the days of waiting to see specialists and the weeks of waiting for test results. When I look back on the year 2017, much of my energy has been spent dealing with one health issue after another.
Truly the prayers of friends and family have helped to sustain me and blessed me beyond measure!
A wise friend advised me when I asked her to pray and I knew she would. She told me to be sure I had settled my identity with the Lord. Of course, I surrendered my life and my voice to Him long ago. But it is easy sometimes to get what we do confused with whose we are. My identity is not as a singer, speaker, writer or teacher. Those are blessings and gifts in my life and ways that I serve. My identity is that I am His child. As His child, I must surrender to His plans for my life. Plans that lately, I would not have chosen for myself.
Surrender. …It’s been a word I’ve wrestled with and also learned to love in my faith journey. It’s what the Lord calls us to every day, but sometimes I admit I want to take charge. Often, I just get weary in the journey, weary of waiting for answers.
But His love keeps calling me to surrender. Surrender to His Spirit, surrender to His will, surrender to His purpose, surrender to His ways, surrender to His timing. Surrender is always the best because He is the One who knows the number of my days on earth. He is the giver of my gifts, my health, my voice, and the One who gives meaning to my life.
I can’t change anything by worrying or letting fear take hold of me. And neither can you!
And so over the last few months I have surrendered once again my life and voice to Jesus to use as He pleases. I am His to heal or not. By His grace, the Lord gave me two miracles this past week. I don’t deserve it. I am richly blessed! The tests showed no cancer and the cyst in my larynx has almost disappeared completely! There is no more need for surgery. I can sing again!
I loved the text from one of my dearest friends when I sent her the news. She said, “This has increased my faith.” It’s easy to think that the trials in our lives are about us, but God uses it all for His glory. God’s work in our struggles can encourage the faith of those who walk beside us in our journey, if we let them in.
This morning I sang some carols of the season at a women’s brunch at our church and tears welled up within me at the simple beauty and blessing of singing a Christmas carol. I had not expected to have that gift this season. It’s easy to get so overwhelmed at Christmas that we miss the simple joys of the celebration. I don’t have a single decoration up in my home yet because there has been no time between doctors appointments and work. And it just doesn’t matter. It will happen eventually or not.
When I was facing the possibility of surgery over the holidays, I made a decision to take care of most of my Christmas shopping early when I had time. The spirit of giving is one of the beautiful blessings of the season. It is the gift of Jesus to the world that we celebrate and our thoughtful, gracious gift giving at Christmas is a way that we can express His love to others. I wanted to be sure my family and friends would have special gifts that I had chosen for them, even if I was too ill to participate in the celebrations. So that’s done! Unexpected grace! I won’t have to be fighting the Christmas traffic this year with my usual last minute shopping. And I get to celebrate with family and friends around the tree whenever we get around to buying it!
The season of Advent is a season of longing, hope, expectation, waiting and preparation, much like the last few months have been for me. As we enter into this season of Advent, I encourage you to take some quiet moments each day and celebrate the gift of Jesus.
Don’t let the chaos that can define the season define you.
Reread the Christmas story about the birth of Jesus in the gospels.
Choose to give.
Choose to sing the carols of Christmas!
In the days ahead cherish the tastes, the touch, the smells, the sights, the singing,
the promise, the celebrations and the holy of Christmas
…. all the joy and wonder that the Christ child ushers into our lives.
Unwrap the gift of His coming and His presence in your life and then give away the blessing of His grace.
Then watch the Father unfold unexpected miracles into your heart this Christmas!
I’ll close this Monday Musing with one of the most beloved hymns of advent. The lyrics were written by Charles Wesley in 1744. I love this hymn because it captures the true nature of what we celebrate in advent, the first and second coming of Christ where we ultimately find our hope, eternal rest and the fullness of His glory. The last stanza closes with a prayer that Christ rule in our hearts. May that be the faithful prayer for each of us this Christmas.
Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel's strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.
Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.
Perhaps you too are in a season on waiting. Waiting for answers about the loss of job, a child who has strayed, your personal health or the health of a loved one. Maybe you are praying for a friend who seems lost or there is a deep burden in your heart. In this advent season turn your focus to the One whose name is Immanuel - God with us.
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel”
(which means, God with us). Matthew 1:23 ESV
God revealed the depth of His love for us at Christmas. Jesus, the King of Kings, chose to enter our world in human form as a baby born in Bethlehem. He came because the world needed a Savior who would be the sacrifice for our sin,
a Savior who understands the deep longings and struggles of our hearts, a Savior who pursues us with a love that will never fail.
Christmas is an enduring love story for every soul waiting and in need of hope, in need of a miracle.
Jesus comes near every moment of every day...waiting... that we would come near and behold Him.
There is His presence, by His grace, you may find unexpected blessings in your life.... for Christmas is the story of the gift of His love for you!
Grateful for the power of prayer,
His healing, grace and blessings this season,
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