The Bible contains a lot of guidance for how to spend our time and energy: We’re to love and help others,1 share the good news of God’s love,2 and apply ourselves in our work,3 to name a few. But the Bible also teaches that sometimes it is best to stay put and let God work on our behalf.
“I’m going fishing,” Simon Peter told his fellow disciples.4
“We are going with you also,” they replied.
Last winter I took a five-week trip to fundraise for a humanitarian aid project I'm involved with. My plan was ambitious—possibly overly so. Long, intense days for over a month straight took a toll on my spiritual life and general disposition.
One day, as I was taking my lunch break and walking around the large mall where I was manning a collection booth, the nonstop sights and sounds in this highly charged commercial setting were weighing on my spirit. I am a nature lover, and the below-zero temperatures and severe snowstorms that kept me indoors even when I got off work were another factor that made me feel trapped and miserable.
"The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law."1
We all know what it’s like to have our lives beset by problems. Financial difficulties, inclement weather, or even rush-hour traffic can cast a pall over our spirits.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. The Holy Spirit can help us rise above our problems, big or small, and cause us to be happy and cheerful in spite of circumstances.
The first Christmas was all for you. It was My Father’s gift of love to the world, but it was also His gift to you specifically. And it was a “gift that keeps on giving.”
For those who witnessed it firsthand—the star, the choir of angels, the baby in the manger—it was an unexpected and overwhelming spiritual experience. For the blessed few who recognized that baby as their Messiah, it was a dream come true. For them and the many millions since who have likewise believed, it has been the door to eternal life. And it’s the same today. If you celebrate Christmas in spirit and truth, the same wonder, the same promise, and the same unspeakable joy can all be yours.
The visual focus of this spiritual exercise is British painter William Holman Hunt’s (1827–1910) most famous work, “The Light of the World.”
The lone figure in this picture is Jesus. It is the risen Jesus we see, dressed in a white robe, crowned with thorns, and bathed in light. Jesus was so much more than a good man or a wise teacher; He was God in the flesh.
“God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”1
Life is full of busy moments, tasks, and responsibilities that are each connected to jobs, studies, family, friends, orhome life. The moments turn into hours, which turn into days and weeks and years. It seems there is a never-ending stream of things to take care of. Then one morning, you wake up and feel at a loss. Where are you headed? It’s hard to keep a sense of direction when your vision is blurred.
This spiritual exercise can help you regain your focus. Sit down in a quiet place and follow the story of the blind man at Bethsaida:1
What may seem logical to you in a particular situation isn’t necessarily right, because you’re human and fallible. It also may not be the way I see it, because “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”1
You may be able to figure some things out and get some things right, but you’ll do much better if you learn to ask Me for My insight and solutions.
When I sat down to write an article about prayer for this magazine, I heard a little inner voice say, “You can’t do that. You don’t pray enough!”
That set me back a bit, and I had to think about it. It’s certainly true that I don’t pray as much as I could and probably should. So instead of writing, I closed my laptop and went to the kitchen to prepare the dough and start slicing toppings for a pizza dinner. Meanwhile, I couldn’t shake that thought. Do I pray enough?
Being a Christian means doing what we can to be like Jesus. We will never be perfect and without sin as Jesus was, of course, because we have our human nature to contend with. But as Jesus’ followers we are supposed to try to resemble Him in the way we live our lives and interact with others.
To “be like Jesus” means trying to live according to Jesus’ teachings and example. It means applying our faith to the everyday events of our lives. It means doing our best to align our thoughts, our attitudes, and our reactions with His. It means looking to Jesus’ instruction and example before drawing conclusions or making decisions. It means pausing fromour own activities and thought processes in order to enter into His Spirit, so He can live in, guide, and work through us. It means following in the footsteps of the Master, doing our best to be like Jesus in every area of our lives.
It’s sad how many people are content to let life pass them by. Sure, they may be busy keeping up or trying to get ahead, and they may fill every spare moment with activities that they hope will be relaxing and enjoyable, but where is all that busy activity taking them? When do they really live? The secret to getting the most out of life is living close to Me and My Word.
I don’t mean that you should hide away and give yourself solely to quiet reflection and study; I mean that you should try to include Me in your daily activities and apply My Word to whatever you’re doing. If you do that, your life will take on new meaning and depth. You will not only be much happier and more fulfilled, but you will brighten the lives of those around you as you reflect My love and the light of My Word in all you do.