Thursday, December 22, 2016

It's Only Wrapping

Hallmark has the corner on the market for coordinating wrapping paper, ribbon, and bows. I used to spend hours and hours shopping, wrapping gifts, and making sure to perfectly coordinate everything Hallmark under our family Christmas tree. Why? It was all unwrapped and in the trash within 30 minutes of starting the opening of gifts. We tried many methods to extend the unwrapping, but the bottom line was even 1 gift at a time left all the pretties in a pile of trash in a flash.

In my heart, I wanted everything perfect for my children because I loved them so much and wanted the best for them. I am not sure they cared about the wrapping though. It always seemed like over the years that all they were concerned about was what was inside the paper. That makes so much sense from their once childlike perspectives. I am not sure they even knew why I spent so much time coordinating all the wrapping. I think the meaning and love behind the intent was completely lost.

My kids had it so right though. The outward appearance of the gifts is fleeting, just for a brief pre-Christmas season. Thus it is for us as well. The Psalmist wrote, "O Lord, what are human beings that you should notice them, mere mortals that you should think about them? For they are like a breath of air; their days are like a passing shadow." (Psalms 144 2-4) Our days are so short, but it is easy to get caught up in this world and forget that our lives are for a Kingdom purpose.

In this world, so much is about the wrapping. 1 Samuel 16:7 declares this truth, "But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart." How much time have I spent being concerned over my outward appearance or the outward appearance of my home vs the appearance of my heart to God. I pray that God gives me the wisdom to focus on seeing the hearts of people as I examine my own heart as well. I pray that He gives me the wisdom to focus my time on loving well vs "wrapping" things.

I wish that I could say that I get this right today, but I don't. I have to fight my flesh all the time. My flesh wants so many things to be "perfect" and "wrapped" with coordinating bows and paper. I desire the "Hallmark" life like the cute movies I've enjoyed relaxing with over the break. The conflict is easily fixed and everything works out for everyone by the end of an hour and 30 minutes with everyone looking Christmas "wrapped" and perfect. Quick, neat, easily fixed issues that are delivered by the most perfect looking people.

That's not how real life goes though. Rarely does anything coordinate or go "perfectly" Hallmark. Life is messy. Life is dirty. People don't look like Hallmark people. People are messy sinners just like me, and we all need forgiveness and often a little work in taking care of our temples as I sit here typing in my pajamas with no make up on at noon wishing I could drop 10 lbs.

Life gets really messy. Divorce causes kids to be here and there between homes. Finances are pressed and buying gifts add to the stress. People are lonely and depressed caught up in their own personal grief that can't just be fixed for them by a bow and pretty paper. Cancer kills. Accidents happen. Life is not fair nor is it meant to be.

When I allow my mind to wander to all of the things that are messy, ugly,  and out of order, I can easily get down about what I have not done well or taken care of to fix it all and "wrap it" metaphorically speaking.  I have to pray, repent, and check myself that my motives are always to serve my King and not to serve people first or what people think nor my own perfectionism or even my desire to help. I have to go to God in prayer over it all and then give it over to Him to be God. I can only do what He has called me to do as my service to Him. I certainly am not God and can't fix this world. That's why we need Jesus.

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal." Matthew 6:19 The enemy is here to kill, steal, and destroy. The world wasn't designed to be Heaven. The world is a test, a trial, battle field, and mixed blessing. I am reminded to focus on the treasures that can not be destroyed. I am reminded to celebrate the treasures that no man or woman can touch, steal, tarnish, or taint.

God is speaking to me right now about the work that He has placed in front of me as a wife, mom, principal, friend, and servant. It's messy. It's complicated, and it certainly doesn't always look pretty nor is it always fun. It's beautiful work though. The heart required behind the work is right and good with Christ at the center. The purpose is Kingdom purposed, and I love that God calls us to the messy, the unlikely.

I love that His work is bigger than my brain can comprehend and a greater love than my heart is equipped to share without Christ. I love that He trusts me to take on the messy and face it for Him. I love that He loves me, gets my crazy heart for Him and forgives me when I screw up. I love that He loves it when I call Him my CEO. He is the only being that really, really gets me. Like the shirt my husband just gave me says,"Jesus loves this hot mess." He loves you too regardless of what kind of hot mess you are. He gets you.

Whenever I have any doubts about what in the world I am doing, I focus on John 15:16. God called and chose me. So no matter what people say, God says what matters. He knows what's just wrapping, and He knows what's inside this package. I pray that you know that He loves you today regardless of your "wrapping" and whatever mess you are facing.  I pray that His voice is the loudest in your life, and I pray that your gifts are nothing that this world can take away from you.

This year, I don't care about the earthly treasures that are purchased or the hodgepodge of wrapping paper under the tree. What I do care about is that my daughter is flying home today and my son on the 26th. I care that I have a husband who loves this "hot mess" regardless of my wrapping. I care that mom is alive and well living with me. I care that I have amazing family and friends in my life who love me. I care that God placed me right in the middle of this messy, beautiful life and that He allows me to work for Him. I care that He has blessed me with people to love well through Him.

Life isn't always easy In His Trenches. It's hard. It's hurtful. It's a mess. BUT, the joy that comes from loving the Lord and serving Christ is beyond what I can express. I pray that the Holy Spirit is touching you today to draw your eyes to the beautifully messy work in front of you that God specifically called you to work, love, pour into, and bear fruit. John 15:16 "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit-fruit that will last-and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you." You are chosen. You are loved. I pray that you have a very Merry Christmas filled with the peace that surpasses all understanding.

BTW, if you love wrapping gifts and decorating, this is not casting stones at you. Everyone loves and serves according to their gifts. Decorating is a gift that many people including me enjoy and appreciate! I just have to check myself on how I'm spending time and where my focus is regarding my own priorities. I hope that makes sense!!

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