Holiday Devotional - December 29, 2016

holiday_feat_post_dec29

Live  Laugh  Love

Show me, O Lord, my life's end and the number of my days;
let me know how fleeting is my life.
Psalm 39:4

We see those three words all the time on cards and wedding invitations, on paintings, and on wall decorations made out of wood for our homes. They invite us to embrace the good things in life, the stuff that really matters in the big picture. But, if you are like me, everyday life can make it really hard to focus on the bigger picture that God is painting. Especially during the craziness and commercialism of the holidays, we can lose sight of what really matters. So, what do those three words really mean?

LIVE - You would think having a terminal illness would force me to live like there is no tomorrow and make the most of each day, each word spoken, and every opportunity like it could be my last. But I don't, and I would bet you don't either. It seems the busyness and stress of life make us forget what is really important as do all the silly distractions like Facebook or wanting a Martha Stewart home, all the latest fashions for myself and family, and all the cool activities and sports my kids just wouldn't be complete without. We only get one life, one chance to run our race. I would encourage you all, as I am myself, to really take a close inventory at where your time and money is going and ask if it has eternal value. Psalm 39:5 goes on to say, "Each man's life is but a breath." We would do well to remember this daily and teach it to our children. Maybe there is a letter you have been meaning to write or a neighbor you have been meaning to invite over. What are you waiting for? Or maybe God is tugging at your heart to get involved and reach out to refugees, the homeless, at risk women or children, orphans, or wherever it is that is out of your comfort zone (it may be right in your own family). Life is short - get to it! Make it a family affair!

LAUGH - Proverbs 17:22 says, "A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones." I know I don't need to tell you, but life is HARD! I am convinced a big part of the reason I have lived so long with ALS is because I laugh often with my kids. (Of course they may also be the death of me if I aspirate food since they always seem to make me laugh while we eat!) There is nothing so wonderful as hearing a child laugh. That will lighten any heavy heart. Let me encourage you if you don't have younger kids or grandkids in your life, get plugged in somewhere where you can play or read with kids. Or read some books that make you laugh out loud or make time to be with friends who know way too much about you and share some laughs together. But while laughter and good times are fun and essential, they are temporary. We need to pursue true lasting joy which can only be found in intimacy with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Let's not let people, things, social media, or selfish ambitions take priority over spending time with God. "The joy of the Lord is your strength" Nehemiah 8:10 (NIV). What are some things you like to do to lighten your mood and what are some ways you can make it a priority to spend time with the Lover of your soul?

LOVE - We are all familiar with 1 Corinthians 13, "the love chapter." I bet many of you had this read at your wedding. (I did!) Let's look again at what Spirit-filled-lovin' looks like. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a says, "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." I don't think we get a pass on any of these attributes just because they don't come easy to our personality or because certain individuals make it really hard to love them. Am I the only one who cringes over the words, "it [love] is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs"? I get my dander up so quickly when I don't feel like I have been treated respectfully or fairly, and I have been blessed with a really good memory. I have wasted so many years holding on to bitterness and unforgiveness over records of wrong. I forget so quickly that it was and is MY sin that nailed Jesus to the cross, and if I won't forgive, God won't forgive me (Matthew 6:15). Chances are good this holiday season that you are going to be challenged to show patience and kindness to people who are difficult to love. Maybe there is someone you need to forgive? Remember, our lives are vapors! Life is way too short to hold grudges! May we all live, laugh, and love for the glory of God!

Carianne Meystrik