Amazed

November is over…well in a few hours it will be over.  We have come so quickly to the end of the year, the last month is upon us and with it comes the hustle and bustle that started, for some, in early to mid October and will continue all the way up till January 1.  
 
Holiday’s are tricky things the older you get.  When you’re a kid there is a wonder and excitement wrapped up in all that is going on.  Sights, sounds, smells and anticipation all mingle to create this amazing, enigmatic feeling of pent up joy.  Breaks from school bring with them trips of all sorts, shopping, family gatherings, sleepovers with friends. Food abounds, cookies, pies, cakes, and feasts happen.  
 
We see family members that we may or may not see at other times of the year.  We brag a bit about what we have, hope that they will be properly impressed, We are amazed at so many things, how much people have grown and changed, what is going on with Aunt Loises hair wasn’t it light blue last year now it’s some strange shade of eggplant, why would an 80 year old woman do that?”  Amazed at the weather, amazed at the news, amazed at the politics of the day.  The problem is that while many of these things may be shocking or disturbing (see Aunt Lois hair) are they really amazing.  
 
Americans have watered down the meaning of words like amazing.  We have made all sorts of things amazing that are cool, or neat, or one of a kind but to be really amazing… I have to wonder sometimes. 
 
I love this verse in Matthew 8.  It gives me a goal, it should give you one as well.
 
“Hearing this, Jesus was amazed and said to those following Him, “I assure you: I have not found anyone in Israel with so great a faith!”
(Matthew 8:10 HCSB)
 
If we define the word amazed we come up with something really cool if you ask me.
 
  1. :  to fill with wonder :astound

  2. :  to show or cause astonishment

A gentile soldier was able to fill with wonder to astound and astonish a guy that could walk on water, raise people from the dead, heal sick people, and feed thousands with a few loaves of bread and fish.  A gentile soldier was accorded faith above and beyond that of people who should have known better, 
 
As we move into the Christmas season we are looking at a Tale of Anticipation at the church.  Truly a time set up by God to Amaze humanity, but what if we, as Christ followers, were to decide to flip things around and attempt to once again Amaze our savior the one we follow with our acts of faith? With our willingness to serve, with our desire to share the reason for our hope with the people around us?
 
I dare you to try and amaze the one who created you this Holiday season and beyond.


Getting it…

Our relationship with God is one of those strange things that occupies more than one space.  It is, and must be, an intensely personal thing. Born from the recognition that we were designed for more, and will continually reach for more, in our attempt to fill the space in our lives that is designed for a living active participatory relationship with our creator.  What makes it strange is it also is a very public thing, or at least it should be.  Whenever someone in the Bible spent time with God people around them knew it, and while not everyone had their face glow like Moses, everyone could tell there was something different about them. 
 
Some things to note…almost every person in scripture that has an active relationship with God be it Yahweh in the Old Testament or Jesus in the New, have one thing in common.  This one common thing sets them apart from everyone around them.  They each had a recognizable encounter with God that they not only accepted but that they allowed to change their life and their perspective.  Abram had regular conversations with God, Moses not only had those same type of conversations, he also was a catalyst for some amazing signs and wonders, The list goes on…Gideon, Esther, Deborah, Solomon, Saul (even though he would walk away from his relationship with God) David, Josiah (the boy king).  Mary, Joseph, each of Jesus  disciples (including Judas who also stepped away from an active relationship with God) Paul, Timothy, Cornelius, Aquilla, and Percilla…you get the point.  There came in each of their lives a tipping point.  There are two tipping points, both in the New Testament, both happen at the resurrection.  Mary is distraught, she is upset, she is lost, she goes to the tomb thinking to say goodbye, to take care of Jesus one last time, only he isn’t there.  In her grief a man asks why she is crying, she thinks he’s a gardener and begs him to just tell her where he took the body of the one person who made life make sense to her.   
“Jesus said, “Mary.””
(John 20:16 HCSB)
The other person is Thomas.  He saw all the miracles, heard all the sermons, had his feet washed by Jesus.  He was there for it all, until he wasn’t.  He showed up and heard testimony that Jesus was alive and in hearing it refused to believe, unless he could put his fingers in the scars on his hand, and his hand in the wound in his side.  Jesus shows up…
“Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and observe My hands. Reach out your hand and put it into My side. Don’t be an unbeliever, but a believer.””
(John 20:27 HCSB)
 
This is is the beauty of God’s plan.  He wants relationship that goes beyond the surface of life and into the detailed actions that each of us take every day.   He wants us to get it.  To recognize the spaces that he has been calling to us from and to make an active living breathing choice. He wants us to place all we are, all we think we have, all we want to become into his hands and leave it there, choosing to allow the encounter with Him to be the starting point of our real life, our true life, the life that He has mapped out, but that we have to choose.
           

It is that choice that makes all the difference in the world, and it is that choice that we will be faced with again and again, because the truth of the matter is, God, in his love grace, mercy and wisdom desires a deeply personal deeply meaningful, deeply life altering relationship with all of us, and he will not stop reaching as long as there is breath in our lungs.