One of the things I love about the Christmas story is that it is able to penetrate our deepest fears and anxieties with the light of hope and help that is in Jesus.
The Glitz & Glamor of Christmas
Dazzling lights, beautifully adorned trees, brilliantly decorated tables and presents, advent calendars with nuggets of the Christmas story, elegant cards with peaceful pictures of joyful families on the front are all part of the glitz and glamor of Christmas.
The “Grittiness” of the Real Story
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But there’s also another side to the Christmas story. Take for instance the picture above. This is my wonderful family. I love them and am so grateful for them, and we had fun attending the new Justice League movie the night this was taken. It isn’t the best Christmas picture we’ve had, but it’s probably not the worst either. Truth be told, there was quite a “fight” behind the scenes to pull off this “decent” looking portrait of the Anderson Family. It wasn’t all that joyous, certainly not peaceful, and probably not all that Christ-like in attitude or action to produce! I’m sure many of you trying to get a nice family pic can relate! Many parallels exist as we contemplate the Christmas story. On the surface, it sparkles with beauty and wonder: the best choir ever singing “Glory to God in the Highest”, shepherds running in haste to see Jesus, the God-man, as a baby, and the elite of society – like the wise men – bringing gifts and bowing in worship. But dig a little deeper and things were pretty GRITTY. I mean, come on! What was glamorous or easy about a 9 month pregnant woman and her husband traveling miles and miles to make it to Bethlehem before she popped? And what is elegant about the God-man being born in a bacteria and bug infested stable with a bunch of dirty, stinky, messy animals?
A Gift for Those Who Struggle
That’s what is so incredible about the good news of our Savior being born for us. It embraces the extremes of our glitzy highs and the grittiness of our lows, offering real help to all of us who struggle.
A Personal Story of Struggle & Submission
About a month ago I experienced a couple days of epic struggle with doubt, crippling fear, and almost debilitating discouragement. Due to a number of factors at the time, from a purely emotional vantage point, I just felt like quitting and running away from my call to lead Kingdom Way Ministries. Then, God met me in my mess as I turned to Him and His Word, while sitting in my truck at a park before heading into my office. He used two surprising ways to do so. 1. Mary’s surrender statement as she received the news that she would give birth to the Savior
“I am the Lord’s Servant…may it be to me as You have said.” ~ Luke 1:38
I’ve always been deeply touched and challenged by Mary’s simple, yet deep, child-like faith as she made herself available to be used for God’s purposes instead of her own. However, this struck me in a new way that day. 2. A blog written by my friend Casey Brewer with Kingdom at Work entitled “Success of a Kingdom” (Read more here...) I found it so refreshing for someone to write about an aspect (not often mentioned) of what it truly means to be a follower of Christ and a kingdom leader: one who submits. Here are two of the statements he made:
- “The greatest success of a Kingdom Leader is not to complete a long list of desired accomplishments, but rather to be wholly submitted to God.”
- “When submitted to the Lord, a loss by earthly measure is actually a key ingredient for the advancement of God’s Kingdom.”
I whole heartedly believe this and have long sought to simply OBEY everything the Lord has asked of me, and help others do the same. The problem that morning, however, was that I needed to be reminded that the real help, hope, and courage we CRAVE (and is offered in the Christmas story), is often only found through what makes us CRINGE: submitting to His Lordship. Though surrendering and submitting myself to God and His will that day didn’t solve all my challenges or settle my swirling emotions immediately. I did gain a newfound peace, joy, and strength to simply do the next things I knew He wanted me to do.
How about you?
Could it be that some – or all – that you may be struggling with right now is because you are fighting against 100% surrender to Christ and/or His will for your life and/or the organization you lead? To think through this further, consider reading a similar post here: “How much do you desire God this Christmas?” and ponder the following questions: 1. Am I available to God? 2. Am I agreeable to His work and what He desires to accomplish in/through my life? 3. Am I anticipating the unfolding of His work in the future?
Also, Consider Praying a “Mary-like” Prayer every day until Christmas
Heavenly Father, Like Mary, I’m facing circumstances I can’t handle alone. Please keep me mindful that I, like Mary, am your servant. I’m called to follow you in spite of my limited understanding. I’m called to obey you in spite of anticipated outcomes. I choose to believe that you are able and willing to sustain me through the unknown. “May it be to me according to your Word.”
Continue the Conversation:
- What is one area of your leadership you find most difficult to surrender to the Lord?
I’d love for you to leave your comment here and/or share your responses to this Tipping Point via the social share tabs below
Dan Anderson, President/CEO of KWM
Chuck Colson once said, “Christians are called to redeem entire cultures, not just individuals.” I hope you were challenged by this post and found a Tipping Point to help you be a culture changing agent for Christ in your family, business, church, and community. If so, we would love to hear from you!