I’m an awful person. Really. Deep down – in those places no one sees. Hateful thoughts and judgmental “observations” and intolerant tones and ungrateful attitudes lurk. The whys prowl about – why does it always happen to me?; why am I forced to suffer?; why my baby girl? Why? Why? Why? (Read those last three words out loud. Scary how much they sound like waah, waah, waah.) My own insecurities, regrets, and doubts feed the negativity. At that point, I’m uncertain whether Satan’s sinister lies take me by force or if I simply surrender out of exhaustion.
In either case, these are the chains that bind my heart.
Do you have chains that bind your heart? What’s your battle? Who’s fighting it?
Sorry – guess that isn’t a very jolly start to a Christmas post. But if we think about – unchaining our hearts is at the very heart of “Jesus is the reason for the season.” But for the fact that “reason” and “season” rhyme, we could all very easily have bumper stickers that read “’tis the season to unchain my heart.” Rhymes or no rhymes, this IS the season of the greatest gift that you and I have ever been or will ever be offered. This gift was revealed over a 33-year period beginning with a humble birth in Bethlehem.
It’s so easy to focus on Jesus alone during the Christmas season but we need to remember that Jesus – the Son of the Father – didn’t act alone. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit may take the lead for different “assignments” (always voluntarily undertaken); however, as one triune God, they always act in harmony. All that to say, Jesus may be centerstage in the manger but his presence on earth was an amazing and gracious gift of God, the Father.
Why did the Father bother sending the Son? Why did the Son humble himself and agree to the whole sordid plot culminating in his torture and death? (I’m starting to sound rather Scroogish – hang in with me.) Why did the Holy Spirit support such an outlandish endeavor?
One reason – to unchain our hearts.
God poured His grace (and continues to do so through his Spirit) into this broken world to release us not only from Satan’s spell but from our own worst enemies – ourselves. My heart is wrapped in chains with no locks. There are no locks on these shackles! Same is true for you and your chains! WE ARE FREE! (There – that’s a whole lot jol-jol-jollier!)
Seriously, we are free. And, when we accept God’s amazing grace it is a release from Satan’s grip. God’s amazing grace is the ultimate “get out of jail free” card. This is the good news that provides hope in a seemingly hopeless world.
So why do I continue to bundle my heart in regret and insecurity? Easy – I’ve become accustomed to the chill of constraint. At least, I know what lurks in the shadow of my shackles. My imagination can’t fathom the fullness of the freedom that God offers. What little bit that I can wrap my puny little brain around just seems too good to be true.
It is too good. Better yet – it is true.
If I will allow God’s grace to unchain my heart, it will unleash my imagination. As each bind slips away, I become more and more free to live as the real me – not the one who is plagued by malicious thoughts and a waterfall of whys. No, we become free to live as God intended.
Grace being God’s expression of unconditional love – we too are called to love unconditionally and to pour out grace upon everyone we meet. What does that look like? It looks modest, self-effacing, and unassuming.
It looks a lot like a babe in a manger.
Dear Father in heaven, send us your Spirit to remind us of your unending and amazing grace. Fill our hearts with unconditional love for all and deep gratitude for the gift of your Son, Jesus Christ. Unchain our hearts so that we may reflect your Light into the murky shadows of this broken world. Amen!
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:6