Emmanuel (Part One)

When God sent his son to our world, He changed everything. He radically altered our own internal struggles with ourselves, called us to a deeper relationship with him, and invited us to form deeper and more meaningful relationships with those around us. This December, on this and next Friday, in this space leading up to Christmas, I have planned a two posts that explore my faith and the wonderful gift of grace that changes so much about our lives. For me, it is a time to reflect, and I hope that in sharing it, you all will be uplifted as well.

The story of Christmas is the story of a world drastically changed by the birth of a tiny child. His name is Jesus, and he grew to be a teacher, a healer, a man who experienced all the heartache of humanity alongside us so that he could set an example for his followers. Jesus' life on earth changes everything for us. As he walked the streets and spoke with people, humanity came the closest it ever had to God, and he to us. And in his death and resurrection, he ensured that this intimacy would continue well after his ascension until he comes again.

Emmanuel means God with us, and the legacy Jesus left is just that. No longer are we slaves to sin. Jesus' death and resurrection purify our hurting hearts and we are now given new life in Christ. This new life is incredibly rich. I have felt the impact of my faith on my personal challenges every day. Jesus radically changes the way I look at myself, and who I strive to be. Where once mistakes and shame clouded my ability to live the way I thought I should, Jesus shows me daily his power to heal and restore me.

I cannot describe the freedom I find in Christ. Though I have my ups and downs, and am no stranger to grief and pain, the joy of Christ sustains me. The cares of the everyday may weigh down on me, but I know that God is with me. My hope in Christ will not fail me, will not disappoint me, because Jesus has done what he was sent to do, and nothing can take away the freedom I have from sin, from restlessness, from despair. My faith gives me a boundless joy that, although sometimes it feels faint because of the hard times, helps me to be compassionate on myself.

My failings used to be such a huge weight on my shoulders, my mistakes like glaring red flashes in my memory, but because God has restored me, every day I am reminded of the amazing grace and love poured out for me. I no longer have to worry about my past, no longer have to worry about tomorrow, because ultimately those things are in God's hands. The gift of Jesus has washed away my sins, past and future, and as I continue to trust in him, so I will continue to grow.

Jesus understands the heartache of this world. His desire is for our suffering to be softened by the freedom we can find in him. He was here, with us. He lived a life of love and compassion, inviting us to release ourselves from the shackles we place on ourselves and love like he did. His love for us covers a multitude of sins, and his grace radically changes the way we look at ourselves. Because he has made us new, we no longer need to feel ashamed or burdened by our struggles.

My faith has helped me to see myself differently. A child of God, loved by God, fearfully and wonderfully made. Created by a loving Creator who desires for me to be perfected in his image. It is hard to believe unless you've experienced it. I have faith because I have experienced his love, and it is radical, and it is life-changing.


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