nancy williams

Real Women, Real Answers, Real Joy Real Women, Real Answers, Real Joy Real Women, Real Answers, Real Joy Real Women, Real Answers, Real Joy

Archive for December, 2009

Love That Transcends Understanding

I look forward to holidays throughout the year and especially Christmas time. The sights, sounds and aroma of a season filled with holiday magic. I don’t know of another time of year when we give such priority to setting aside the busyness of our everyday lives to relax and enjoy each other. Oh, we’re involved beforehand with countless preparations; but then we manage to settle down, be still and soak up the spirit that surrounds us. We quiet our minds and hearts as we encounter love, in its truest sense, and reflect on the reason for this celebration.

We spent days, weeks, even months planning and preparing; and hopefully you’ve shared a special time of celebration with those you love as I’ve done. Now the pace has slowed a bit as we enjoy these few days that are tucked quietly in between Christmas and New Year’s festivities. Relatives have traveled back to their homes. We took advantage of those after-Christmas sales and finished up the leftovers. It’s a perfect time to pause and reflect on what life has brought our way and how God has guided us through the past year. To share those remembrances with those we love and then to tuck away those special memories in the closets of our hearts – treasures that will offer hope, joy and peace in the days ahead.

In the quiet of this winter afternoon as I enjoy a warm cup of tea and some Christmas music, I’ve been pondering thoughts about Mary, Jesus’ mother. A young woman who was simply living life as she knew best with a love for God and a commitment to share her life with a carpenter named Joseph who was to be her husband. It was an ordinary life. That is, until an angel appeared to her and told her she would give birth to God’s Son whom she would call Jesus. If you read Chapter 1 of the Gospel of Luke in the Bible you’ll see how the angel Gabriel shared the news with Mary.

I can hardly imagine how she must have felt when Gabriel came to her with the news that she, a young virgin girl, had been chosen by God to bring His love into the world in this most amazing way. In fact, Luke wrote that Mary’s first words were, “How can this be?” Mary loved God; yet she was having difficulty understanding how things would take place as Gabriel said. The angel shared with her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you” (Luke 1:35, NKJV.) He explained how God’s miraculous plan would unfold in her life. A plan designed to open the door to salvation for all of us through His Son, Jesus.

It must have been overwhelming and seemingly impossible as Mary tried to comprehend it all. Read Luke 1:37 and you’ll see Gabriel’s assuring declaration: “For with God nothing will be impossible.” Holding onto that promise and her trust in God, Mary responded with her commitment, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord. Let it be to me according to your word” (vs. 38.) She went on to sing, “My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior” (vs. 46.) God chose Mary to fulfill His promise of Salvation through the coming of His Son into the world. An ordinary woman who believed in God and was willing to trust, even when she didn’t understand. Her song was one of praise and her life was one of faith and obedience.

As we step into this New Year, God seeks the same kind of commitment from us. That we love Him with all our hearts, with all our minds and with all our souls. That we offer ourselves as instruments for Him to accomplish His work in the world. That we trust Him, even when we don’t understand what He is doing in our lives. That we step out in faith wherever He leads. May we begin 2010 with hearts committed to loving God, to praising Him, to serving Him as He leads and to trusting Him completely.

Blessings to you in this New Year.

Joy to the World

I really enjoy this season of the year – Christmastime. The lights, the sounds, the aromas, the smiles and greetings from neighbors and friends, and the spirit of giving that flows from the hearts of so many. It’s a time when we pause and shift our focus from the challenges and struggles of life to reflect on God’s amazing expression of love to us through the birth of His Son, Jesus. It’s truly a most wonderful, joy-filled time of the year.

In the midst of this festive time of celebration, I had opportunity today to celebrate another gift from God – a baby girl who will be born in just a few months. My husband and I accompanied our son and daughter-in-law to their doctor’s visit and eagerly watched as the ultrasound gave us a glimpse of the little one who has come into our lives. I could tell you it was a special time for us to share. I could say we were wide-eyed with excitement. I could say it went by too fast and I just wanted to sit and watch her as she moved about and showed us how well she was developing. I could tell you how excited I was as I watched my son and his wife glowing. But all those descriptive phrases seem inadequate to really capture what this new grandmother experienced today. It was an awesome gift of joy for me.

I began this morning by reading some excerpts from One Incredible Moment by Max Lucado that celebrates the majesty of the manger. Now, this evening, I’m back at home sitting by the Christmas tree reflecting on the day and thinking about how it must have been for the couple that experienced, first-hand, the birth of Jesus. The man and woman God chose to be the earthly parents of His Son. The couple He knew loved Him and would follow in obedience as His plan for our salvation unfolded. A young virgin girl and the carpenter who was to be her husband – Mary and Joseph – were part of a miracle.

While they didn’t have the luxury of ultrasounds to see the baby’s development, Mary and Joseph had the assuring words of angels telling them how God was using them to fulfill His promise by sending His Son. Their deep faith and trust in God along with their commitment to Him and to each other guided them through the months of preparation and the uncertainties of what lay ahead for them, and then to a stable in Bethlehem where Jesus was born. I can only imagine what thoughts filled their minds and what joy filled their hearts as they held their baby, knowing he was the Promised One.

Tucked among some candles on a table near my Christmas tree is a block of three letters that sends a message just right for this season of celebration: JOY. To me, it’s more than simply happiness. It’s an attitude we can choose to embrace when we focus on the positive things in our lives. It finds a home in our hearts when we foster a spirit of gratitude for the blessings God has given us. No matter what’s going on in the circumstances of our lives, we can find joy in the assurance that God loves the world so much that He sent His only Son to us and that if we accept His gift of love we will have His promise of eternal life. Isaac Watts captured this truth in a song we share each Christmas season; so let’s join our hearts and voices together: “Joy to the world! The Lord is come. Let Earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare Him room; and heaven and nature sing.”

The time has been set aside and the focus offered. Now it’s up to each of us to discern how we’ll embrace the coming days. I hope amidst the baking, decorating, shopping and parties, you’ll take time to celebrate the wonder of Christmas by reading the Christmas story in Luke chapter 2 and Matthew chapters 1 and 2 of the Bible. Then let your heart smile, your spirit sing and your joy overflow.

From my home and heart to yours – Merry Christmas.