We purchased Christmas lights for the outside of our house. In an unlikely Christmas season, for an extra burst of light in a dreary time. While I would have chosen clear white lights, the vote was cast, and multicolor strands were purchased instead.
My husband began hanging the lights on the main level roof. I was folding laundry inside when I hear a thud, and something tumbling from above.
I ran outside. My son was looking up. I was cold without a jacket on, and only my slippers to cover my feet. Knowing he was up rather than down, there was sweet relief. He called down that he was fine. Then I noticed he was no longer on the main level, he was up on the second storey roof. How had he gotten up there?
Well, he’d put the ladder on the garage roof to climb up, of course.
A ladder. On a snowy, potentially icy, garage roof. Climbing up to the second storey.
My neighbor's words to him summed it up, “I’m going inside now, you are making me nervous.” I went back in too, because of the cold, but I also to avoid my anxiety.
We don’t want to watch the world fall apart. Yet, every day, we see the reminders of this fallen world, even before 2020. Our hearts break at injustice, poverty and war. There is pain and suffering all around us. It’s hard to watch, and it’s even more difficult to live in it.
When headlines report news from somewhere across the country, or the world, we can neatly tuck that information away, because it doesn’t necessarily impact our day-to-day. However, when suffering enters, unbidden, our lives are turned upside-down, as we scramble against gravity.
We’ve had the opportunity to learn a lot this last year, about ourselves, our faith and our values, as we’ve been sorting through the chaos of change. How has our faith been weathering the storm?
Here are three reasons why growing a habit of abiding in Christ is important for 2021.
To steward the time we’ve been given
“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving” (Col 2:6-7).
Depending where you are, and what degree of lockdown you are in, there’s a good chance you may be experiencing more time on your hands. What are we filling our time with when we’re not running around to our kids’ activities, meetings, or social events?
These are opportunities for us to develop the habit of growing in the Word and prayer, to listen to biblical teaching on a podcast, or a bible study on Rightnow media. This time and space are an invitation for us to intentionally put our relationship with God first above all else, to root our faith by the means of grace he has given to us in the Word.
How have you been growing in the disciplines of faith?
To endure the storm, we need an anchor
“Mightier than the thunders of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea, the Lord on high is mighty!” (Ps 93:4).
Our world has been shaken with a pandemic, a life experience we never imagined to encounter. While stress and changes in life are not new, this has tested our ability to reconcile our faith with adversity.
Our response to hardships and changes in life reveals what we believe about God. In these times of shift and change, the perfect bubble of our life has burst and we struggle to figure out how to blow it back up again.
We need to learn more about who God is, practice believing it, and trusting who he says he is. This is the bedrock of our faith. While Jesus lay sleeping in the boat, winds raging, rain falling, disicples panicking above, he stood up and with one command he calmed it right down. The shocked disciples ask, “who is this?”
Can we answer this question about who God is?
To bear fruit that will last
“His delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in season, and its leaf does not wither” (Ps 1:2-3).
If you have a garden, you know how important it is to water your plants. The plant’s health depends on it. You may also know that the fruit is impacted by the nourishment it does, or does not receive. The shape and spots on my tomatoes reveal when they were getting enough water.
In John 15, Jesus tells his disciples, “whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned” (John 15:5-6).
The singular focus here is that without Christ, there is no fruit. Abiding in Christ through time in the Word and in prayer equips us with the divine commodity of producing fruit for the kingdom of God. The contrast is also significant, that a life without him withers from lack of nourishment, and gets tossed onto the compost heap.
And so this becomes our prayer, “that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ” (2Thess 1:11-12).