Wow, it’s been a little while…I hope everybody had a great Christmas. I did, and not because of presents. For some reason, I just have this feeling that my family came a litle closer this year than previous years to the spirit of Christmas. For the first time this year, I had the money to decently gift my parents, which is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. My Grandma literally didn’t have the money to gift any of us, but my family gave her presents anyway. She did okay until we pulled out her new vacuum cleaner at the end; once that was opened, she burst into tears because she couldn’t give us anything. We told her it was okay and not to worry about it…it was still moving, though. Also, Grandma gave me something special (although not as a Christmas gift). Right before I was born, my dad went on a mission trip to Mexico. Of course, he bought some souvenirs there, including this bright serapi for my Grandma. Well, while we were over there for those few days, she gave it to me. It’s a huge serapi, never been used or anything. The colors are still so bright they almost blind you, but it’s really beautiful. Last semester one story we studied was Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use” and it kind of made me think of that. Christmas just seemed a little more special this year.
Also, Happy New Year! My New Year has been ok…not quite as special as Christmas, but no complaints.
I have been toying with a specific thought lately, though, so I thought I’d share it in light of the New Year. The last devotion I wrote (several months ago) was about waiting on God, and how we shouldn’t wait on God solely because we know that He’ll provide. Basically, we should be satisfied to simply wait on God no matter what He does. One big element of my devotion was Who God is. That’s what I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. We see the principle I’m talking about put into motion every day. I’ll use my dad as an example. I love my dad. What my dad does tells me a lot about him, but my father is not defined by his deeds; it’s the other way around. If I did try to define him by his deeds, I’d come across some issues. For one, I don’t understand everything my dad does (or has to do). He works to provide for my family (we’re a one-income family), but I don’t know exactly how that’s accomplished (beyond he works, he gets paid). I don’t know much about money; I’ve heard of 401Ks and pension and things like that but I don’t really know what they are. The other big throwback is that sometimes my dad does things that aren’t Christlike; if I were trying to define him by his deeds, I’d have to include the bad ones, too. While my dad’s deeds, good and bad, reflect closely who he really is, they do not define who he is. Some of what he has to do, I don’t understand. But, I don’t have to understand everything; I just have to choose to trust him. He behaves, provides, etc. how he does because of who he is. I’ll jump to the spiritual application to clarify a little.
So often we define our Heavenly Father by His deeds, and by His provision. Sometimes we get so caught up in the Father’s provision that we miss the Father. Granted, He works at a level that’s often times over our heads (kind of like my dad’s finances), but we choose to trust Him because we know we don’t fully understand such things. God provides and behaves how He does because of Who He is. This is the part that I thought was really amazing: We don’t have to ask God for things; we need only ask Him to be Himself. That’s the difference between humans and God. We’re made in His image, so yes, just like His deeds come from His heart, our deeds come from our hearts. However, we can’t count on ourselves, so we can’t always deliver just “being ourselves.” Sometimes our deeds betray the perception of who we are. Even “being ourselves” is shaky ground. If someone were taking me to meet a friend of hers, and she told me to just “be myself,” I don’t know that I could. I say this because she would still have an expectation of the type of behavior she was expecting from me; if “being myself” didn’t match her perception of me (what she wanted), I’d be letting her down. God Is Not Like That! We can ask Him to be Himself with total confidence in Him because He never changes, and because He is love. Gregg Matte once said in a sermon that God meets all our needs simply by His name. My branch off of that is that God meets all our needs simply by being Himself. If we need something provided, we can say, “Father, I know that You are faithful. So, I just pray that you would be faithful. Be yourself, and help me to have confidence in Who You are.” Yes, we know that God will provide, but we only know that because of Who He is. We can’t forget to cling to the Father for clinging to the facts about Him. I’ve tried to start praying in this way, and it’s been cool. And it doesn’t have to be just requests, it can be relational issues, anything. For example, if I need help loving somebody, “God, be Yourself in me to this person because we both know what will happen if I’m myself.” The thing that I’ve noticed about praying this way is that for one, it reminds me of who I am. Secondly, it reminds me of Who God is and what that means in relation to who I am and in relation to what my specific need is.
Hopefully some of this mumbo jumbo made a little sense. If not, this is my New Year’s Recommendation: think about Who God is, and pray from that knowledge. You don’t have to ask Him to do things all the time. With Him, it’s okay to just say, “be Yourself.”