“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14(NAS)
The holidays can be a very difficult, painful, lonely and stressful time for many people. Some of the many different reasons can be isolation, painful memories, and grief over loved ones that aren’t there, financial strains, and various mental and emotional battlefields. Often there is a feeling of being disconnected.
Lisa Whelchel speaks to this in her book Friendship For Grown-Ups. In regard to feeling disconnection she says, “I’ve been wondering lately if this isn’t one of the many reasons God sent His Son to be with us. I’ve been thinking about what it means to be present and I keep coming to the idea that it is a gift, a gift so important to God that He even named His little boy Immanuel, God with Us (Matthew 1:23). Jesus didn’t stay in His own heavenly world. He stepped into ours to be fully present, all there, 100 percent with us. Is that not the truest definition of the friendship we have with Him? Is that not the model? The more in-the-moment encounters I have on the human level, the easier it is for me to be with Immanuel, in an incarnational way. Just being with Him, I think Jesus really likes that. I know I do. It touches my heart when someone makes room in their busy life to be with me. I know what that costs. In today’s economy to give someone your time is worth much more than money can buy. There is such a thing as withness!”
During the busyness of the holiday season what are ways we can have a heightened awareness of those around us who are struggling, suffering and hurting? What are simple ways we may be able to give the gift of ourselves-our presence-our withness.
We are often overwhelmed by the traditions, expectations, rituals and activities during the holidays that the needs of those around us are ignored, put on the back burner or missed all together. How can we make ourselves more aware and avail-able to those people who are left in the dust? How can we focus more on giving the gift of ourselves this Christmas season in small and tangible ways? (a visit, a call, a note, a hug, etc.)
The heightened awareness of the needs of others during the holidays can be a stepping stone into the new year by accepting the challenge of simplifying our lives so that we can be sensitized to the needs of hurting people all around us, who most of all need the gift of withness from us.
“People in the midst of crises need to see flesh and blood wrapped around the word of God in a convincing, believable way.” — Joni Eareckson Tada
Reflections on THE POWER OF WITHNESS!
Busyness is one of Satan’s most effective tools. Busyness dulls our eyes, so that we do not really notice other people. Busyness dulls our ears, so that we do not hear the soft still voice of the Holy Spirit. Peer pressure from our society influences us to think that busyness makes us seem more successful and important. In actuality, busyness means that we are ruled by the desires and demands of the expectations of others, instead of allowing God Himself to set our priorities.
A few years ago, our pastor preached a series of sermons on building margin into our lives so that we could be more sensitive to the Lord’s leading on a daily basis. I was under extreme conviction because my schedule was so jam packed that I did not have time to talk to someone on the phone or just listen to someone who needed someone to care for just a few minutes. As I began to practice the Biblical principles our pastor had shared, God began to give me some amazing ministry opportunities. I had been involved in a number of ministries before, but these new opportunities were one-on-one encounters where God spoke through me to encourage hurting people. It was not only extremely satisfying to see Him working in such awesome ways, but it was also much less stressful because I was seeking His leadership on an hourly basis in determining my priorities for the day. I also began to learn to be flexible and to trust the Lord that, if He called me to spend unscheduled and impromptu time with someone, I could trust Him to either multiply my time for the rest of the day, OR I could release my expectations to Him and not allow myself to feel pressured to accomplish so many tasks that particular day.
I have to be constantly on my guard not to let busyness creep back in. It desensitizes me to the Holy Spirit and to people in general. Who is determining your schedule? If not the Lord, why not try letting Him set your priorities? You will be blessed beyond your wildest imagination!
Prayer for the hurting person:
Help this one who is lonely to wait on You and Your solutions to his loneliness. Help him to seek to trust You more and allow You to send other people if that is what he needs. Help him re-member that, although You promised to meet our every need in Philippians 4:19, sometimes You send people to help live out that fulfilled promise.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Prayer for the helper:
I give up all the plans I have made for today. I trust You to lead me moment by moment where I need to go. Although my responsibilities are always in the back of my mind, I choose to bring You to the front of my mind. Guide me as I go throughout this day and lead me to those where You have prepared them for what You are going to do through me in their lives. Help me to realize that only Eternally significant things matter. Nothing else will last.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.