Some thoughts on the hope of Christmas, and I share shorts from my friends in the Christian Podcasters Association.
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” Luke 2:10
Several friends eager to run into the New Year have asked me, “Do you have your word for 2021?” Actually, I don’t have a single word. I have a phrase from the song O Holy Night. The soaring, triumphant anthem for a world so drained and exhausted that it knows our only hope is to look up.
I imagine us all on our knees, weak and heavy, turning just enough to catch a furtive glance of someone moving. Emmanuel, our Savior. God with us. But He’s not what we expected! What is this? He’s just a baby! We need a king! We run after the tangible but fleeting hope of humans and human systems that can only offer the illusion of security. The promise of rest never realized.
One night in a small town, a lonely couple with nowhere to go settles among the animals and lays their newborn in a manger. As the baby cries his first breaths, the sky grows bright over the hill country. Startled shepherds rise to investigate, then fall back to the ground in awe and wonder. The light and the sound of the angels’ song is nearly too much to bear. With their heads still pressed to the ground, they turn just enough to glimpse the heavenly choir. Gasping for breath, overwhelmed. Praises tumble from their lips as a thrill of hope invigorates their souls.
Through the years, the angels’ praise continues. But our jaded, impatient world, discontent and numb, marches on from season to season. Have we lost enough strength to fall to our knees? It’s the weary world that rejoices. The weary world suspects we were meant for more. The rest of Bethlehem went about its business that night. But the baby’s exhausted parents and the shepherds; they were the ones who noticed. It was the weary ones on their knees that gained that thrill of hope.
The truth of Christmas is that we cannot save ourselves. The promise of Christmas is that God loved us so completely that He sent His son to save us.
“The thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.” – O Holy Night
He wrapped us in a starry sky, calling us to look up. He gave His only son to us. Wonderful Counselor. Prince of Peace. The government shall be upon His shoulders, and of His kingdom, there shall be no end.
This year has been challenging, but not without hope. Weary ones, may this week of in-between be filled with the wonder of Christ’s birth and the thrill of hope that only He can bring. ~Kay
I’m sharing short takes from my friends in the Christian Podcasters Association. Here are the links to their podcasts:
Today I want to share a personal story about a time when I needed God to show up. I needed Him to calm the storm and give me his peace.
I had a dream one night in 2014, that shook me to the core. I bolted up, and could not get back to sleep. I won’t share the details. But the dream was shocking and intense; it was extremely violent. Looking back now, I believe God was showing me something that was happening halfway around the world. I only heard the news a day or so after the dream. But the dream had driven me to pray about this unknown thing.
I couldn’t concentrate at work the next day. This violent dream continued to overwhelm my thoughts. I needed time to process my thoughts. Struggling, I found myself sitting at a picnic table at the beach, praying a simple, desperate prayer: “Jesus, I need you to come have lunch with me.”
He did, just not in the way I expected. If I hadn’t been writing it all down, I might have missed it.
[00:00:00]Welcome to episode 38 of the Life and Mission podcast. I’m your host, Kay Helm. And normally we’re talking about business, or we’re talking about ministry, or we’re developing different skills that you can use to pursue that dream and to live that life of purpose and put your faith in action. But today I want to share a personal story about a time when I just needed God to show up and give me his peace.
[00:00:42] I’m really glad that you’re here for this bonus episode of the life and mission podcast. Usually I have a guest and we do an interview for 30 to 40 minutes, but today I’m jumping on really fast because I just felt like I needed to share this story from a few years back. It’s a personal experience of how God showed up.
[00:01:10] And I didn’t know he had showed up until I looked back on it later. and I think it’s an appropriate story for the times that we’re in right now, when there’s so much uncertainty and we just need that peace.
[00:01:37] I had a dream one night that just shook me to the core. I woke up in the middle of the night, could not get back to sleep and I won’t share with you what the dream was. Uh, it turns out it was tied to something that was happening in the world at that time that we hadn’t heard of yet. Like, I had not seen any of this on the news.
[00:01:59] It was a thing that was happening halfway around the world. And I just believe that God was showing me what was going on before we’d heard about it. And what it did was it drove me to prayer about this unknown thing. Like I knew nothing about what was going on. I didn’t know where it was happening. I didn’t know the people it was happening to, I knew the dream was violent.
[00:02:23] I knew it was, the dream was really graphic. Really just absolutely. Shocking and intense, and I promise you, I’m not giving you any more details other than that, but, um, it just shook me to the core and brought me to my knees and I just spent that morning praying and calling out to God. Like, I don’t know who this is.
[00:02:44] I don’t know what’s going on, but you do, but make it, stop. God, this is terrible. Just, yeah. You know, not knowing how to respond to it. Um. And it was a work day for me. So I go into the office and I had a meeting that morning and the meeting is going on at, all I could think about was this dream. I mean, the images from the dream just kept coming back into my mind and the questions, the racing thoughts, the inability to concentrate, it just was all I could do to just sit still and be.
[00:03:19] In this meeting and then get through the tasks of the morning. And finally, when lunch came, I just bolted out. I had to, I’ve got to go, I’ve got to go somewhere. Didn’t tell anybody where I was going and I grabbed some fast food and I took myself down to the beach because being around water is very calming for me.
[00:03:43] And I took that meal down to the beach. I walked down to the picnic tables that we have there, and I sat down at this table and I just kind of plopped myself down and said, Jesus, I need you to come have lunch with me.
[00:04:01] Now I, I just, I just need you to show up. And I sat and ate my lunch. Still very much struggling with, uh, with this dream and with the, the thoughts and the images and the, all the questions and
[00:04:28] I just. Didn’t, didn’t feel his presence there. It was like, okay, where are you? And, uh, it was done with lunch and I, there’s no way I was going to go back to the office at that point. Thank God I have some freedom in my schedule like this and can do this. But, so I, I, uh, I had grabbed my journal or a notebook, actually, I grabbed a notebook on the way out and really, I wish I could have found it.
[00:04:56] Today. I was looking for it before I did this episode because I really wanted to read part of it to you, but I can’t find the thing. So we’re going off my memory right now. But I grabbed the notebook and I walked down to a little bench on the sand. It’s one of these super low benches. It’s great. You know, you put your feet in the sand, and I did that and I just kind of parked myself and I just started watching the waves.
[00:05:22] And. There were some really noisy people at the beach. And finally they left. And in the quiet I just was drawn to watching. There was a family playing near the, you know, as the waves were the small part of the way he was, and there were two or three kids, little kids, and a mom and a dad, and they had a little picnic lunch.
[00:05:49] It was so cool. And at one point the dad stepped away from the family group and he walked past me to the trashcan and he’s just throwing something away. And this little kid, probably maybe three years old, comes running after NIMS crying, daddy, daddy, don’t leave me. Don’t leave me telling me. And the dad was so kind.
[00:06:17] To his child, Hey, turned around and said, Oh no, I’m not leaving you here. Come. And he walked back to, he didn’t keep walking to the trash can. He turned around and he met the child that was running after him, and he took the child’s hand very gently and just then walked at the speed of the child and he walked to the trash can, said, Oh, honey, I’m just, I’m just going.
[00:06:40] To the trash can. We’re just going to throw this away and then we’re going back, but you can come with me. And I thought, Oh, how sweet. And it just made me feel good and I kept watching this family and they had their lunch. And they were playing in the waves, and the dad took one of the little kids out in the waves, and a boat went by.
[00:07:08] And of course, the wake, you know, made the wave so little,a little bigger than they’d been. And the child got scared. And started crying. And so the dad said, Oh, it’s okay. It’s okay, I’ve got you. And he walked back to the shore and said, Hey mom, do you want to go down to the other end of the beach where the waves aren’t so wavy?
[00:07:30] And that’s what he said. they just packed up the little picnic and they went to the other end of the beach where the wake from boats wouldn’t bother them so much. And I frankly, I wanted to follow them. There was just so much peace in that family and I just thought, I just need to be around peace right now.
[00:07:49] And so after they left, this dream kept kind of, you know, coming back up and, and I just still was really struggling with it. I’m still saying, Jesus, where are you? I’d really need you to show up. And, after a little bit. I noticed another dad with, probably, I don’t know, an eight or nine year old kid.
[00:08:15] In the water, and they were doing this really cool thing, looked like a lot of fun. The dad would kind of cup his hands in front of him, and the boy would, would put his foot and the dad’s hands and the dad would kind of launch him up over his head and the boy would go splash into the water and then he’d, you know, stand up and.
[00:08:39]do it again, do it again. Well, They kept doing that and they kept going a little bit deeper and a little bit deeper and a little bit deeper.
[00:08:45]And at one point the boy goes into the water and I guess he put his feet down and he couldn’t touch the bottom and he freaked out. this kid, he’s splashing, he’s splashing and the dad is right there and the dad and the dad is going, I’ve got you.
[00:09:00]It’s okay. You’re fine. I’m right here. I’ve got you. And the kid is like climbing up the dad and he’s pulling his hair. Dad’s going out. Yo know I’ve got you. It’s okay. Calm down. You know, I have you. I’m right here. And, and the kid is like, you know, literally like climbing on top of his dad, good take me back to you.
[00:09:20] I want to go. And so they have this conversation about how I want to go back now. You know, we’re not going back. Just stay right here. We’re good, it’s good. And they can, they had this little argument and finally the dad goes, well, where do you want to? Where do you want me to stand? Where? Where do you want me to keep doing this game that we’re doing?
[00:09:43] You show me where you think is a good place, and the kid goes all the way down to the shore, where the water is like maybe halfway up to your knees, you know, he says right here, this is where I want to be. And the dad says, no, we can’t do that here. If we did this game in this shallow water, you would get hurt so mad, we can’t do it here.
[00:10:08] We’ve gotta be in deeper water. And. So, okay, they go out a little bit, but the kids still scared, you know, but the dad’s trying to reassure and says, I’m here, I’m ready. I’ve got you. And they go and they do it a couple more times, which is cool. Cause it calmed down. The child, you know, he did it a couple of times, then it was, he was safe and, and, and that was great.
[00:10:34] And then mom called him over and they had their picnic lunch. And I was kinda sad that they were having their lunch because. Then I didn’t have any, anything really cool to watch, because I was really just, all I thought was happening was that I was distracting myself from this dream by, by watching these families interact on the beach.
[00:10:58] And so while they had lunch, I just again began to struggle with this deam. And I really felt like I needed to write down what I had just seen in the notebook and was so glad I had that notebook there and I wrote it. Down and I really, like I said, I really wish I could find this notebook, but I wrote it all down.
[00:11:22] I wrote about that the first dad being so kind and explaining, and he had also explained like the tide coming in and I’m washing the head, washed out their sand castle and he was explaining things and you just. Explaining to these little, little kids all about tides and waves, and he had simplified it so much to make it easy to understand, and it was so cool to see the dad do that.
[00:11:49] And he reminded me of that. That’s the way my dad was and just, it really made me feel good to see that happening with his family. And. And then the second dad, you know, just writing the whole thing. And as I was writing about the second dad when the kid was climbing all over him and pulling his hair and all of that, you know, putting his knees in his face and dad’s like, “No, no, no!”
“I’m here. I’m here. I’m here. I’m here. I have you. You’re okay.”
I realized Jesus had shown up.
[00:12:32] I was waiting on a peace that I knew. A familiar peace. I was waiting for peace that I’d already experienced in Christ. And I was waiting for that old experience to show up, to reassure me in this new uncertain time. But He had shown up in an entirely new way to me in the form of these two dads, comforting their children and just being good fathers.
[00:13:16] Sitting there writing this in my journal, “Okay. Jesus. You showed up.” And so I want to encourage you. I’m recording this at a time when we’re all on lockdown, and we wonder what’s happening. We’re in the middle of the week, and this is the big week where we’re going to experience a lot of death and grief and troubles. A lot of people are going to be saying, “God, where are you?”
[00:13:50] Jesus come, we need you. And I want to encourage you that he might show up in ways that we don’t expect, and he might show up in the form of people that we might not have noticed.
[00:14:13] So just be open. Cut yourself some Slack for feeling the way you do. We’re going through a really hard time as a nation, as a world, and I just wanted to share this story with you to encourage you that he’s there. He hasn’t forgotten. He sees and we don’t know at what point he’s going to turn around and grab our hands, but.
[00:14:41]A couple episodes back, McKenzie Ryan talked about sharing our faith stories and looking for those divine details, kind of like there’s God fingerprints that we really don’t see until we’ve gone a little further down the road and we can look back on an event. So I would encourage you to, to journal, even if it’s, it doesn’t have to be pretty, I know a journal that I really wish I could find was pretty, but it had the details and that’s gonna be important down the line.
[00:15:25] So scribble it down, put it somewhere where you can find it. And the other thing she talked about was being able to see God, or not being able to see him. Sometimes we’re more in the middle of something that he’s hard to see because he’s so close. So that’s a good episode to listen to. Very encouraging. It was before all this stuff happened with all of the coronavirus and, and so we just talked about sharing your story, but it’s a, it’s also a good one for this time, and I think you find it encouraging.
[00:17:31] Next week, my interview with KJ Ramsey. She’s the author of This Too Shall Last. It’s a book about finding grace and the presence of God in the midst of suffering. And so KJ is an author and also a therapist, and she has a lot to say about where we are at this time. When we are in the messy middle, we are, we’re in this middle where we’re asking so many questions.
[00:17:56] Hey. Thank you so much for listening. Love you guys. feel free to put some comments here, on the Life and Mission website. send me a message. And I appreciate reviews and sharing. Thank you so much. God bless you. We’ll be back next week.
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