Written by Deb del Villar, Director of Communications
As the holidays quickly approach, many of us are thinking about spending time with family. Most of us missed that last year, and it looks promising that it may happen this year.
Being together is so important to build strong connections and share family traditions and stories.
So whether you will be around a table or a computer, think through some ways you can be very intentional to capture this time building a strong spiritual legacy.
What are those stories that you do not want to die and lay buried when you are gone?
We have family stories that are always rehearsed and remembered each time we get together. They are the good ones, the happy ones, the ones that bring much laughter.
Yet do not be afraid to share the ones where you felt alone, suffered in silence while your thoughts screamed day and night, those times of despair where the hurt ran deep – these are the stories that may speak louder than any others you share.
Times of raw emotion and turmoil where you depended on an Almighty, All-Knowing, All-Loving God who never left you.
Those times when you felt you would not have made it if it was not for God and His Word. It is time to be real about our spiritual journey – the ups and downs.
Our young people need to know life can be hard but greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world.
Your example in word and deed can show the strong reality of trusting God and His Word. Let them know when it is hard to trust His Word, trust His heart – He loves them beyond their wildest hopes.
I think of these times in my life in five categories:
- the “Garden of Gethsemane” moments
- the “Mary” moments
- the “Finish My Race” moments
- the “Christ Refining” moments
- the “Road to Damascus” moments
As each is briefly unpacked, think through your moments. What would you call them?
Garden of Gethsemane Moments
These are those times you struggle and wrestle with God. You ask if there is another way that His plan can be carried out, a less painful way, an easier way.
These could also be called Jacob moments where maybe at the end of the struggle you experience a metaphorically pronounced limp that stays with you the rest of your life.
Gethsemane means “olive press.” Jesus was crushed so we do not have to be crushed. 2 Corinthians 4:8-10 says we are afflicted but not crushed.
What if God allowed this to happen so you could meet the needs of another better? Are you willing to come to the garden so God can fulfill His purpose through you? Look up – He is in the garden with you.
Next, there are the “Mary” moments. These are the times you sit back and ponder all the things happening.
These are quiet, contemplative, heart-searching, and seeking times.
The wonder of God and what He is doing comes freshly and boldly to your mind and heart.
Like a small child wide-eyed at a tiny ant crawling on the sidewalk, you watch, wait, and wonder where is God going with all of this.
It is a time of wonder and worship. Take time to relish these moments. Stay and linger a while with your amazing almighty God.
These may come as you spend time in concentrated prayer or Bible study or catch you off guard while on a walk or visiting a friend. Look up and see the wonder of your Loving ever-present working God.
Finish the Race Moments
These are moments when you make that decision to finish the race – your race.
You may not like your race, your course, your lane in the race, but you finally surrender to the One who knows best.
You no longer strive to change your race to someone else’s or hope to have a different race which is easier and not so hard.
When He says, “No, my daughter – No, my son – this is the race that is set before you. Run and run it well, finish. I will be with you all along the way.”
You finally rest in the race you have been given to run, trusting and listening to the One who called you to the race. Remember too that the Bible teaches us there is a reward to be received at the end of the race.
Run on, looking up for therein lies your strength and your direction.
Christ Refining Moments
Christ refining moments are another example of those times in life that define us.
They could be called the ‘fire’ moments in our lives. The “are you going to trust me or not – NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS” moments.
David and Goliath, Esther, Joseph, or Fiery furnace men had these Christ-defining moments.
What is yours – these unimaginably painful, hurtful, unfair times in your life? What did you do? If you have not had one, think about what will you do? Look up, allowing God to be God.
Road to Damascus Moments
Finally let’s look at Road to Damascus moments. These are the moments when you had a plan and were going forward to complete it. Then God showed up and changed everything.
You made it through and would not change it now because of where you are with God and Jesus.
Your relationship with God is stronger, more personal. You now can say “I know for certain” because I have seen, heard, and experienced the Lord. It is no longer head knowledge but heart knowledge.
Like Paul on the road to Damascus, everything changed and now you move forward from the perspective of “I now know for sure…”
These are powerful times that God uses to grow your faith so, in turn, you can share your experience to bolster someone else’s faith, especially your children and grandchildren.
Look up – God is desiring to do something amazing!
We must fight with spiritual weapons. We live each day by faith, being ready with our full spiritual armor on.
At times this crucible of suffering called life makes you want to cry out in pain and yell enough! Enough! Then you cast your eyes on the One who did not yell enough! Enough! But finished His course, instead, yelling “It is finished!”
Allow God to use these defining moments in your life to make you more like Him. Make peace with God and see Him use your journey for His glory and your good.
Your children and grandchildren need to know your journey – need to know God is faithful. What defining moment stories will you share this holiday season?