Joy to the world! The Lord is come.
Let earth receive her King
Let every heart
Prepare Him room
Jesus came that we may have life and have it abundantly. This life is the kind that has a joy so deep, a joy so real, that it’s indestructible. Not that we won’t go through trials of many kinds. We will. But the abundant life is the kind of life that can smile in the midst of trouble and sickness and sorrow. Not a forced smile. A genuine one.
It’s the kind of life that can see beyond the here and now because the abundant life Jesus promises is the kind of life that knows this isn’t the end. There is more to come. A lot more. Eternity.
But for many the tension of preparing for Christmas Day increases as the day draws near. We dash here and there, from party to gathering to special programs, decorating and gift wrapping and candy making, menu planning and extra grocery shopping.
And we wonder about the joy because we don’t feel it.
We’ve rushed here and there to do the wrong kind of preparing.
This joy isn’t found in a perfectly decorated home or an extravagantly prepared meal or the amount of money spent on the gifts we’re giving or receiving. It isn’t found in all the parties and events and Christmas bonuses.
It’s found in Jesus.
Those other things are just a foretaste of the real kind of joy. The abundant life Jesus came to give us.
We only have to make room in our hearts for him.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10 (ESV)
After months of training for a race like I’ve never run before…..I ran the course and finished.
And I finished well.
The race was 4.22 miles with 22 obstacles and it was amazing.
It was the teamwork. The encouragement. The ability to do more than I thought I could. It was strangers offering a hand or a knee to help and me offering one in return. It was how I pushed myself. It was conquering fears and obstacles and it was watching others conquer fears and obstacles. It was hard and eye-opening. It was humbling and heart-opening too.
Running a Spartan Sprint was a good thing to do on a Saturday morning.
I almost missed it though. In short, a wrong map took us to the wrong place. We turned around and took the right map to the right place and finally arrived at the military base where the race was held. But 100,000 slow moving vehicles were between me and where I needed to be (not really that many but it seemed like it). I jumped out of my husband’s truck, sprinted a mile to the registration tent, picked up my racer’s pack and made it to the starting line in time.
This race was more than just a race for me. I learned a great deal about myself and others. I learned the importance of doing new things and taking on challenges but two things really stand out.
Training made a significant difference in my race. And not only my race……but getting to the race in time. I ran the mile to make the race with no problem because I was prepared. I trained with other women every Saturday morning for months leading up to the race but I worked out on my own 5 times a week. Our Saturdays were great but not enough to prepare me adequately. I was consistent and disciplined in my own preparation and it made all the difference in my race…..in my confidence going into it and in how I performed.
The other major lesson learned is that we are better together. The women I trained with were a constant source of encouragement as we prepared for the race. We lifted each other up on our bad days, cheered our victories, and talked down our fears. We held each other accountable.
I made it to the starting line on time because two friends helped me get my gear and chip timer on and made sure I was hydrated before we started.
And I could not have finished the race well without my racing partners. We stayed together throughout the entire race. They pushed me and lifted me (they literally lifted me at one point). We laughed. We strained. We cheered and helped each other. We cheered and helped other racers. We joked at all the mud and we raced with all our hearts.
The encouragement from these women…..the help, the drive, the smiles and laughter were vital to my race.
Life’s that way, too.
We are better together. We just are.
And being prepared is better than not being prepared. It just is.
Try something new and do something hard. And help others do it.
And let them help you.
Because it matters. Live like it matters.
“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone?A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NLT
I like to have a plan. Even if I don’t have it written down I like to have an idea about how I’m going to accomplish something. Sometimes I hold back from making a decision because I don’t have a detailed plan.
I’m not going to do that anymore.
Don’t let the absence of a plan hinder you from making a decision. Many times the decision will inspire the plan and prompt the next move. Even if you don’t know how it will happen…..or completely believe that it will happen……if you can see a glimpse of the possibility……..DECIDE.
Then take the next step, then the next.
“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” Martin Luther King, Jr.