Out With the Bad, In With the Good

Earlier this week, my family got hit by the flu bug.

You might know the type – vicious vomiting, unsettled stomach, chills and hot spells and other bodily activity uncomfortable even to write about in this blog.

Flu Bug 1Predictably, once one person in the household got it, the destructive beast made its way to the other members of our home.

Thankfully, the flu worked its evil ways but left our family with enough time to recover right before Christmas can be celebrated. Now, we can gather with our relatives and still rejoice in this blessed season, enjoying full health while knowing we are not at risk of infecting anyone.

That’s the silver lining about enduring such a horrendous bout of sickness. Whether it be a virus, food poisoning or any other bug that ravages your system, once it’s gone, you feel so reinvigorated.

The return of a full appetite, a sense of humor, some pep in your step so you can exercise once again – whatever it is, it’s so nice to have. The bad goes out, the good comes in.

God reveals this message, too, through various stages of history in the Bible, reminding us of His love and presence all throughout periods of difficulty.

Whatever the example, He teaches us to stay the course on His path, assuring us we will find greener pastures in our lives. (Psalm 23:1-6)

I was reminded of this recently while reading to our sons the story of Noah’s Ark.

Noah Ark 4I recalled how the world was filled with such sin that God decided to destroy the evil and build His beautiful creation back up again. (Genesis 6-9)

That rebirth and renewal of the world is one example of how God always makes good outcomes of bad happenings, so long as we are open to receiving them.

It’s at this time of year we turn our attention to another instance of God conquering evil.

The birth of Jesus ushers in a new life for all of us to appreciate, empowering us to change our negative ways while inspiring us to return to the perfect form we received at the time of our creation.

New LifeThrough Christ, we see God’s presence always – even in suffering – and we are motivated to recognize how, with Jesus, we can overcome even the darkest of days in order to feel abundant brightness. (Hebrews 2:10)

As He taught during His time on earth, Jesus offers us the way, the truth and the life we require to escape from our struggles or confusion.

Devoting our life to Him can help us feel such rejuvenation, gaining the strength needed to face all of our troubles head-on and put them behind us.

Is There Room in Your Heart?

As the Christmas holidays approach, many people are growing more excited about their vacation plans.

For weeks if not months, those travelling may have their flight arrangements already secured or their road trips marked with routine food stops.

No doubt, they have contacted family or friends, various hotels or bed & breakfast places to see what rooms are available.

As we journey through the Advent season in preparation for Christmas, we can be reminded of the travels Mary and Joseph took from Nazareth to Bethlehem.

Now, keep in mind they travelled by donkey and were not surrounded by the developed highway routes we enjoy today, filled with gas stations, fast food restaurants and convenience stores.

Tired, hungry – and, oh yes, pregnant – Mary and Joseph sought a place where they could rest and prepare for the birth of their child.

No Vacancy Sign 2Turned aside by others, an innkeeper offered them a lowly stable, where the Savior would be born in a manger, surrounded by animals and hay.

Say what we will about the accommodations, that innkeeper made room for Jesus when others declined and closed their doors.

Hearing the Nativity story these next few weeks, we will be challenged to reflect on whether we make room for Jesus in our lives and, if so, how much room.

Is God given our entire heart and included in all of our daily thoughts, words and deeds?

Is He invited in only when we need Him, serving as a safety instrument in time of desperation?

Do we call on the Lord when it’s convenient for us and serve Him only out of obligation or for appearance’s sake, or do we genuinely wish and choose to have God reflected in as much of our lives as possible?

This message struck me head-on the other day while driving to school in the morning. Listening to a song titled Make Room by the group Casting Crowns, I heard powerful lyrics:

Is there room in your heart for God to write His story?

You can come as you are, but it may set you apart when you make room in your heart and trade your dreams for His glory.

The song also describes how Jesus came to save a world so cold and hollow, wanting to free us of all of our sorrows.

Sponge 4If courageous enough, we can reflect on how these messages impact us personally.

While Jesus was born outside with limited shelter, do we envelop Him with our heart each day or mostly cast Him aside?

Jesus gives us His unconditional love, but in return, do we give Him our life unconditionally?

It was this exact point that was discussed during a recent Alpha for Youth session at my high school.

We were looking at a picture of a swimming pool and the people in the photo, comparing the situation to society’s various relationships with God.

Alpha Swimming PoolIf we are to consider the pool to be God, what role of the individuals applies to us?

Are we diving head-first into His loving and healing waters, or just dipping a toe in, reluctant and wanting to enter slowly?

Are we swimming laps comfortably and confidently with God present in our every stroke, or are we on the pool deck, more preoccupied with other matters such as our work or personal appearance?

Are we experiencing a feeling of drowning in our life and reaching out for God to rescue us, or are we exiting the pool, toweling off and leaving Him?

Certainly, there is so much to consider as we approach the blessed birth of Jesus Christ. Yet, as we celebrate the coming of Emmanuel and ready ourselves for another year with His peace available to us, what are we choosing as our Christmas wish?

Remembering how God entered the world as an innocent babe wishing to save, let us be reminded of how – just like hotel rates when trying to book a room the week before Christmas – the cost of a life without God is simply too great.

Is there room in our heart for God to bless us and write His story?