Monday, December 16, 2013

The Peace of Christmas - An Advent Story, Part 3

This year, it is once again my privilege to participate in the celebration of the Advent Season with my church family. 
The story that God has prompted me to write will appear here on my blog each Monday this month. I am thrilled to be able to share these writings with you and I hope the story will be a blessing to you and your families this season. The story is a continuing tale that will take us through a contemporary application of the biblical truth of Christmas. 
Click HERE for a link to Part 1 of the story.
Click HERE for a link to Part 2.  

If you wish to study the verses each week along with myself and my church, simply click below the graphic and it will open a window to the notes page of Impact Church NOVA. 

With a Courageous Heart, 
Impact Church Notes

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." - John 14:27

Izzy took another sip of his latte and glanced across the table at his sister. She was on the phone with her son James figuring out when she’d be picking him up from practice.  When Izzy had answered her text earlier, asking to meet him at Starbucks, he knew it wasn’t gonna be for a casual conversation. Mary Beth knew him too well, had always known when something was bothering him. She had a sixth sense when it came to him and as much as he loved that she knew when he was troubled, he wasn’t always ready to talk about it. Some things he just needed to keep to himself for a while.

Like the fact that he’d pulled his old Bible down from the top of the bookshelf last week. It nearly wrecked him when he opened the black leather cover to see the inscription there in his Mother’s handwriting. 
“To my son, Isaiah Gabriel, on your 15th birthday – God has given you a deep thirst for knowledge. It is a gift to be able to ask the right questions and find the answers that will satisfy your need for truth. Son, you will find no greater truth than the words in this precious book.  When you choose to walk in the truth found here, you will know true peace and the purpose for your life. Use your gift wisely and remember, you are never alone when you walk with Jesus. I love you, Mom.”

He’d believed that once. That the Bible was God’s word. His truth. Mary Beth still believed it, even after the fire that had killed their parents. Izzy had always wondered how she could be so accepting, so, so, peaceful about their deaths. He was jealous of that peace if he was being honest with himself. How does she do it, He wondered, how has she managed to put that awful day firmly in the past?

Ask her.

The voice startled him. He looked around at the guy sitting at the table behind him. No, wasn’t him. He was buried in today’s Gazette, reading the Letters to the Editor. Briefly, Izzy wondered if the guy had read his article that was on the front page today. Below the fold, but still, front page baby. He was making a name for himself at the Gazette. Pretty soon, he’d be known all over this city. Not too shabby for someone his age, but he was a hard worker and wasn’t afraid to get to the bottom of a story. Hmm…his Mom had known that about him, hadn’t she?

Ask her.

Ok, seriously? That was loud. But looking around, no one else in the busy coffee shop had seemed to hear it. They were all involved in their iPad’s or their conversations. Ok, weird, but valid. Maybe he should just ask her. Izzy looked back at his sister just as she was putting her phone away in her purse. “That thing drives me crazy”, she said with a smile, “but with two teenage boys, I have to own one just to keep up.” She paused a moment then continued, “Listen, I…”

“Mary Beth, I…” They both started to talk at once, tripping over each other’s words. Some things never changed and Izzy grinned. “You first, after all, you ARE older.” He said. “Oh, haha, you are SO funny Isaiah.” She replied. “Alright, fine, but this is serious, ok?”
“For the past two weeks, ever since Thanksgiving, I’ve been waking up in the middle of the night, thinking about you. I’ve felt God telling me to pray for you and not to wait, to do it right then. What’s going on with you little brother? And don’t think you can hide it from me either.”

Izzy shifted in his seat as he considered how to begin. How had she known he’d been having sleepless nights?  
Had she known? 
That was weird. They’d always been pretty connected, but man, that, and the strange voice he’d just heard made him wonder if he was losing it. “Tell me something Sis, why doesn’t the fire still bother you? Why doesn’t it make you angry? It never did and I don’t get that. You and Joe, you’re both so into Jesus. And I just don’t understand how you can be when God didn’t do anything to keep Mom and Dad from dying. Don’t you miss them?” 
Wow, that had come out harsher than he’d wanted it to. The stunned look on Mary Beth’s face told him that much.

She sat quietly for a moment and he was just about to apologize when she started to speak. “Isaiah, I love you, you know that don’t you?” He nodded that he did. “You and I are so much alike in some ways, but in others we are so different. With you, everything is black and white. Truth or a lie. Facts are facts. And you’ve always been one to hold back. You don’t trust easily and when Mom and Dad died, you were just starting to get to know Jesus. To understand the peace He offers and what life with Him at the center could be like. You were so angry after the fire, you pushed Him away. Decided not to trust Him anymore because He’d failed you, right?

“It was different for me, I’d been on my journey with Christ for a few years then – I’m older, remember? You want some truth? Hmmph. Mom and Dad’s deaths just about killed me, left a great big empty hole in my heart and I miss them so much, even today. But what made the difference for me, what has gotten me through it, was not rejecting Jesus, but embracing Him. Resting in the comfort of His word and trusting in His love for me. When I needed Daddy, I called out to God, my Abba, Father. The Bible promises that He is the Father to the Fatherless and I just clung to that Isaiah. I held on tight to the peace Jesus gave me. It’s like nothing you can find in this world.”

Mary Beth sighed deeply and she could see that he was listening intently. When Izzy didn’t respond, she continued, “Isaiah, you’ve lived the last 10 years as if God had abandoned you in the ashes of our home. But the truth is that you abandoned Him. Somewhere in your heart you know that God has promised to never leave you, but you’re so stubborn. The rational, factual, black and white adult you’ve become needs to remember who you were at 15 when you prayed for Jesus to save you. You had nothing and Jesus gave you everything, but you walked away when it got hard. 

Bad stuff happens, it happens all the time. Look around you – you’re a reporter! You see it as much as anyone, but do you blame God for all that? He doesn’t cause bad things, but because of sin, evil exists. Jesus was God’s answer for that. Yes, God’s son, that little baby we’re celebrating now, who loves us enough that He died for us. But you know that already.

“You’ve been working so hard at filling your heart with stuff – your job, your car, your box seat season tickets, all your new and bright and shiny stuff. But all you’ve been doing is pushing out the one thing that’s going to give you the peace you’re looking for – Jesus. It’s time to stop running away little brother. You’re meant for so much more than this.

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