There are a lot of Christian words and “church phrases” that get thrown around--especially around Christmas time. We sing songs with words like “Gloria”, “herald angels”, “triumph”, “orient”, and many others. We read verses about God being “Immanuel” and “incarnate” and we listen to the Nativity story that describes the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us.
As church people who hear them year after year, Christmas after Christmas, these words and phrases become second nature to us. But when something becomes second nature, it almost loses its meaning, powerfulness or intensity.
The past three months, God has stretched me. He created a situation where the only response was to fully surrender and trust in Him. Had I have done anything else I would have completely fallen apart. But when God hands us situations like these, he steps in and provides exactly what we need at every turn. He is with us. He becomes Immanuel to us personally. Not just the Immanuel of the Bible, but the Immanuel of my life.
Over the past three months I have been keeping a journal of the moments that God has shown up.
September 8, 2018, I wrote: It’s no coincidence I am studying 1st and 2nd Thessalonians right now. I’m just over halfway through a 44 day study and reading 2 Thessalonians 1:5-8 today….Going through these books has been encouraging and the timing and lining up of these passages with where we are has been truly a gift from the hand of God.
September 28, 2018: God continues to show up when I get discouraged. This morning he gave me Psalm 63 as encouragement.
“O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and dreary land where there is no water.
…because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.
…for you have been my help and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.”
October 7, 2018: I am continually amazed by God. I feel like I need God to show me his presence, power and love every single day. And he does. He always shows up. I used to think reading Psalms for my quiet time was kind of cheating and taking the easy way out. They are easy to read, not super convicting and often short. God has completely changed my perspective on that recently.
Every morning I read a new Psalm and every day these Psalms speak to my heart in ways I never even knew I needed. They are encouraging, uplifting, help me to focus on God- the source of my strength, and so personal. It’s like they were written for me specifically in the situation in am dealing with now. God planned way back before the beginning of time to encourage me and fill me daily in this way. It’s incredible. He’s incredible.
He gives me each day exactly what I need to know he is with me and working on my behalf. He gives me just what I need so I will wait in anticipation for what he is going to show me tomorrow. I cannot say I have ever been in a place of this much hope, encouragement, peace and feeling of God being so present giving me exactly what I need. I am so thankful, because right now I need him more than I ever have before. And he is showing up daily. Thank you, Lord! Psalm 71:9b – forsake me not when my strength is spent.
November 1, 2018: God encouraged me yesterday.
November 14, 2018: God’s timing is truly incredible.
December 2, 2018: Thank you, Lord, for continuing to show us your presence through every step of this journey.
Time after time, day after day, Immanuel was with me. And he’s with you, too. So often we let life to get in the way of allowing ourselves to see God on a daily basis. We are too busy to notice where he is showing up. We brush off encounters with others as good conversations rather than God revealing himself to us.
What is it going to take to allow you to see God? To fully recognize that he is present and active in your life? For me, it took a life crisis. God has always been real to me, but I have never before seen him the way he has allowed me to see him this year. And as difficult as the time may have been, I would never take it back or change it for the world. Seeing God alive in your life is truly life changing. Having Immanuel show up visibly, day after day, changes the way you live life.
As a dear friend encouraged me this past season, I want to encourage you and leave you with these words. Don’t pray for your situation to change, pray that you will visibly see God each and every day.