A December Devotional Part 1
Last Sunday morning in December I was feeling low, mentally and physically. I’d had a cold the previous week that I was just getting over. I was going to church later in the afternoon, a new church that was just getting started with some small meetings at the Pastors house. I had been looking forward to it all week, as it finally felt like I’d found a church I could begin to call home. But as the day went on I wasn’t feeling like going.
I knew from past experience that I always felt better for making the effort to go to church, even when I didn’t feel like it. So I dragged myself out across the cold wintry city, crammed onto the tram with the Christmas shoppers, lamenting that it took so long to get anywhere when I lived so far away.
As expected I was so glad I went. The pastor began talking about his intention for the church community that he wanted to build; that it would be not just a place to go once a week, but a group of people supporting each other, praying and breaking bread together just like the early church in the book of Acts.
We drank tea and ate Crostata; an Italian pie filled with Apricot jam. It felt warm and cosy, and for someone like me, who was never a church goer before the last few years, the informal home atmosphere was just perfect.
Then he talked a little about having a regular habit of reading the Bible.
The group was small, just five of us sitting around the kitchen table, which gave us all a chance to talk and listen to each other. One woman shared that whenever she was feeling discouraged she would turn to the Bible and God would show her the exact scripture she needed to read.
It made me think. In all of my low mood, and unhappiness over the last week, I had been focused on wanting to feel better, wanting to get more energy, wanting my circumstances to change.
I’d prayed to feel better from time to time, but I hadn’t really turned to God for encouragement. I read the Bible every day, but I hadn’t consciously turned to it, and asked God to encourage me through his word.
The woman’s on fire faith inspired me. On the way home words and scriptures began to come to me, they lifted me out of that December darkness.
Winter can be a time of emotional and physical struggle. I find it harder to get out of bed, to get off the sofa. I like the sense of slowing down, of turning inwards, of curling up in the warmth to focus on reading and writing. But it also seems like sometimes falling too deep.
Hebrews 6.18-20 says, ‘we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever.’
I started to write these words to remind myself, and anyone else that’s reading that God is the anchor of the soul. If we find ourselves falling this winter, we can remember his words. We can turn to his words. We can find something that will lift us up. We can turn to our brothers and sisters in Christ, and they can offer us wisdom or encouragement that can lift us up.
(I think this post is part of a series so part 2 should be coming soon!)
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:24-26
Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them. Matthew 18:19-20