Friday, December 23, 2011


"No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame..."
(Psalm 25:3, NIV)

Part of the wonder of  the Christmas season is watching the eyes of children glow with excitement and anticipation of all involved in the celebration.  Squealing with delight over culinary creations and intricately wrapped gifts becomes music to the ears of all who hear.  And the joy can't help but spill over to everyone who dares to abandon themselves to the mirth.

But what happens when life doesn't turn out quite the way we expect?  Oh, how our hearts are crushed!  I would venture to say that we would be shocked if we truly knew how much time we spend grieving over what never turned out quite as we thought it might or as it will never be.  Fathers weep privately over wheelchair-bound sons that will never run at a track meet or over fragile sons that will never play football.  Mothers long to hear their names called out from the lips of their non-verbal youngsters.  Grandparents tie themselves up with worry over the future productivity of their challenged grandchildren.  And so it goes on.  These are real hurts and disappointments that we would all hope to move beyond.

Add to these broken dreams of life the largely unrealistic outlook we have towards the holiday season, and you have a toxic mix!  Family members are often completely insensitive to the plight of our children's challenges.  Aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents and friends expect all children to be completely polite, well-behaved, fancily dressed angels this time of year.  We expect everyone to be compassionate and have an understanding of what we live with on a daily basis.  Both are entirely unreasonable.  And waiting for situations to have the desired outcome only makes a time of great holiness completely stressful and misdirected.

One of the many great blessings yielded by my BSL (Bible Study Ladies) studies this year has been learning to pray "serious prayers."  And one of those prayers with the greatest impact in my life has been learning to, "Pray that all your expectations will be in Christ alone!"  As many of us do, I come from a family background riddled with the failings of being a control freak.  It has taken me countless years to cease trying to bridle the uncontrollable in my life.  Nevertheless, disappointment still has its insidious way of creeping into many parts of our psyche that we never even knew existed.

The beautifully liberating piece of the puzzle has come to me as I literally get face-down on my living room floor each morning, dissecting the parts of my life where I suddenly see I do have my own agenda of expectations.  I surrender those pieces to Him.  I pray for the Holy Spirit to crowd out the selfish parts of me.  More of Him and less of my self-absorbed nature!  And then I fall fully into the request to let all my expectations be in Christ alone.

Something truly amazing happens when we pray this way!  When we make a deliberate effort through prayer to align our will with His, God is faithful to answer affirmatively.  He will shape us in ever-increasing measure into the image of His beautiful Son when we willingly agree to it.  And we find peace and freedom from the godless circumstances of this world because all of our joy rests fully in the Unchanging One.

My prayer for every reader during this Christmastide is that all of your expectations would rest fully in the Babe who humbled Himself, leaving His glorious heaven to live amongst us for 33 years.  May the joy of the salvation He provided through that pain and humility give you peace and restoration no matter what you may face this year!

Pray:  "You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you." ~ Augustine of Hippo

~ Barb Dittrich

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