The week after Christmas may have different effects on each of us. For some it is a week of relief and rest after the push to complete all the Holiday activities. For others it can be a letdown after the fun, excitement and anticipation inherent with the celebration of Christmas that comes complete with the joy of giving, being with family and friends and the celebration of the birth of our Savior. Then there are those that use this week to focus their attention on their plans for the coming New Year.
While I have never been one that’s been keen on New Year’s Eve parties or even church gatherings to bring in the New Year (believe it or not!), I am one to give into prayer and thought concerning the Lord’s vision for me and my family for the next 365 day period as we come to the end of each year.
This morning as I read from the last story of Jesus’ childhood in Luke 2:42-52, I caught a glimpse of something in the young lad that I have witnessed in myself many times over the years of my life. When His parents found Jesus in the temple after a frantic three day search, Jesus calmly replied to their inquiries saying “Why did you look for Me? Do you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49 MKJV) Jesus’ response gave me the feeling that He was actually surprised and a bit miffed at His parent’s reactions to the whole situation!
I remember the time back in the late 1970’s after having felt the call to ministry at a youth camp that my young bride and I had taken our group from the Baptist church to, when I stood before my parents in their living room telling them that I wanted to go to seminary. The look on their faces was priceless! Probably a lot like the look on Joseph’s and Mary’s faces when Jesus responded to their question in the temple that day when He was twelve years old.
There was complete consternation written on their expressions and they just sat on the couch with a look that defined a total lack of understanding to the zeal that was pouring forth from my mouth! You must understand that my parents were very active and devout Catholics and were clueless to the whole Protestant side of Christianity! My Dad would jokingly refer to churches outside of the Catholic belief system as “Protest-ants!” To put it mildly, Luke 2:50 perfectly described the situation when it reported: “And they did not understand the word which He spoke to them.” (MKJV)
Over the many years that followed that confusing, but yet humorous event, my parents came to an understanding and appreciation of my wife’s and my beliefs and subsequent lifestyle in the ministry. As I have mentioned many times previously, they were our main supporters (physically, spiritually and emotionally) in the difficult early stages as we faced the battle of my wife’s health.
We’ll be looking a little deeper into these verses at the end of Luke chapter two throughout this last week of 2014. But for now, I would just like to have us think about our callings in life and the zeal that propels us through the ups and down of our pursuit of them.
I am not really sure as to why, but this Christmas was especially difficult for me. I usually consider myself a pretty even keeled individual, but during the last two weeks I have had to fight to keep my emotions on track as I thought about past holidays with my wife and family and at the same time try to keep a positive outlook on our future together. This morning as I studied the Word and read of Jesus’ adventures with His parents, I asked the Lord for a re-kindling of the zeal and/or passion for Him that I have experienced since those first days of youth ministry leadership at that Baptist church so many years past.
That zeal or passion for Him and His Word is the thing that has kept me afloat throughout the past five years. It is the vision of His Word working in my wife that has helped me to look past what I may see from day to day in the natural and it is what has given me the strength to go on even when other’s don’t seem to understand the approach we have taken and the Word we have spoken to them.
I can fully appreciate how excited Jesus must have been as He sat at the feet of the teachers in the Temple over those three days. I can also understand how difficult it must have been for Him to realize that it was not yet time to fully devote Himself to His Father’s business and to submit to His parent’s wishes and return to His home and to their authority. But by obeying and doing what was right, our story concludes with the results of His actions saying that He “increased in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.” (Luke 2:52 MKJV)
I think that the years that ensued under the care of His folks was the time when Jesus, like His mother had done, “kept all these sayings in (her) His heart.” (See Luke 2:51 MKJV) He must have kept the zeal for His Father’s house aflame throughout this time as He continually studied, meditated upon and acted on the Word of the Lord. (See Psalm 69:9) And that is also the way for you and me to keep the zeal and/or passion for the callings of Papa God aflame and stroked during our daily walk through the ups and downs of our lives.
On a scale from one to ten, with one being at low ebb and ten being fully aflame, where would you rate your own level of zeal and/or passion for the things of God for the end of 2014 and the New Year that is but a few days away? You know, it doesn’t really matter what others may say, think or look like when you share your zeal with them. Don’t allow the impressions of other people or your memories of bad or even the good times of the past influence your today and tomorrow.
What matters is hearing the voice of what Papa God thinks and has said about you and your future! His Word is the one item to keep foremost in the front of the line of your sight in your daily walk! Have a great week, a wonderful end to 2014 and an uplifting and expectant pursuit of the New Year! …and keep asking yourself… “What Flame am I expecting to Re-Kindle in me today?”