Monday, December 12, 2011

It's Hip to Be Christian

As I've studied the story of the birth of Jesus this past month, I've come to realize that roadblocks are really opportunities when we place them in God's hands. Can you imagine Mary asking Joseph, "Bethlehem? Really? I have to travel all that way on the back of a mule for a stupid census when I'm about to have a baby?" Okay, maybe she didn't word it that way. But it certainly wasn't a convenient time for her to make a long trip that likely took at least three days on foot. However, what seemed like a roadblock was God's plan to fulfill the ancient prophecy written centuries before Christ's birth, "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” (Micah5:2)

What about the shepherds? They were lonely nomads with no family, no resources, and no real future other than what they knew... shepherding day after day from one bland field to another. It was a terribly lonely existence, but they were resigned to that fact. Then one night, their roadblock became an opportunity. An angel gave them news of great joy, and they became witnesses to the greatest event in history.

Joseph, a descendant of King David, was chosen for the task before he was born. Mary, a virgin, was chosen for destiny. As the Lord promised Jeremiah, he promises us that before we were in the womb, he set us apart. He has a plan to prosper, and not to harm us.

God will always take what's seemingly tragic and turn it around for the good, according to His promise in Romans 8:28. So this morning, when I received a seemingly gloomy report at the Doctor's office, I suddenly gained a better sense of focus than I've had in quite some time. I see an opportunity for Christ to be glorified. My right hip has been hurting badly, and x-rays confirmed what I suspected. Arthritis. The cartilage is gone. It's bone-on-bone. One slightly embarrassing steroid shot later I was on my way. Next visit: The orthopedic surgeon.

What an opportunity. First of all, it's a chance to re-focus and re-prioritize. God's promise is for those "who love him and are called according to his purpose." He is not, and never has been happiness for hire for those who wear the label of Christian. He expects us to be in covenant relationship with Him, honoring Him with our lives, our time, and our resources. This is an opportunity to strengthen my relationship with Jesus. Secondly, it's an incredible opportunity for Christ to be glorified big time. I'm standing on His promise that I can and will be healed. I will not waver from His promise. And when He heals me, I'll be a LOUD testifying witness for Him. No hiding His light under a bushel.

Six simple words were spoken over me prophetically this summer by a Pastor I trust and admire. He said, "No running. No excuses. Just results." Now, I would add this: No roadblocks either. Just opportunity.