Is your heart troubled as you begin the New Year? A month ago we were in the high anticipation of Advent and reflecting upon the unique plan of God that coincided with the coming of the Christ-child. God put into place many things and events in order to lead us to Bethlehem. Many times though our hearts feel the need of a transformation by the time the journey is over.
Each year we begin the Bethlehem journey in high anticipation of the celebration to come with the attitude of tradition and occasionally the unrealistic sameness of past jubilees. Often by the time we reach the middle of the Christmas Season our enthusiasm wanes and we begin to question the real motivation of our celebration as the origin becomes somehow lost in the festivities. The high of Christmas often hits a low as the sudden transition of post celebration occurs.
The problem lies not so much in the gala that we display but our approach. We tend to lead into the frantic anticipation of Advent and the often over-the-top celebration of Christmas through unrealistic expectations that with the festive atmosphere all of life’s problems are miraculously resolved. The issue with this approach is that much has changed since our last journey. An entire year has passed and within that year many changes occurred in our lives; some changes good and others affecting the souls of our hearts. So when we try to find our way to Bethlehem using the same old map often we lose the way for our purpose. Sometimes we never quite complete the journey or at other times upon arrival a feeling of the dismay of disappointment or shattered illusions surface and create a troubled heart.
Perhaps this is the way the shepherds felt as their life was ultimately changed in one Holy night. Â This first night they hadÂ multitudes of heavenly hosts singing and praising God, then they headed off on the journey to find the Christ-child, and were in awe of finding everything just as the angel said. Â But were they able to maintain their euphoria upon their return? Or did things settle down once again into a cold, lonely, and dark night where the same struggles appeared and soon people forgot their story. That is where the troubled heart begins. A troubled heart is where all problems begin.
Billy Graham said that we are suffering from only one disease in the world and that problem disease is not about race, poverty, or war. Our basic problem is a heart problem. We need to get a change of heart, a transformed heart.Â (Anton, 1976) Transformed hearts only come from trusting in God and the belief in Christ which takes us back to the manger journey.
Troubled hearts can lead to transformed hearts only by recognizing that Jesus is the way to eternal life. It is only through our trust and belief that we will arrive to our destination with hearts eternally filled with peace as our souls experience a forever worry free life. This future is secure with our belief which takes our troubled heart on earth and finds the peace it needs until the time comes for us to join our Savior.
This week we recognize through our weekly focus verse that Jesus is the only Way to the Father. The journey begins with the humble beginnings of Bethlehem and ends at the cross where our troubled hearts are greatly relieved. When we allow God to take control and Jesus to direct our path, we are able to see that the good of life only comes from the Father and bad things turnÂ into good.
As we leave Bethlehem behind and journey into the New Year we must acknowledge that our trust in Christ is the key to the Father. It is only through the belief of both that our troubled hearts will find the soothing balm of the Endless Possibilities of Peace thatÂ it needs to keep beating the pattern of life as we move forward in our trust.
Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God and trust also in Me. John 14:1 (NLT)
Â Transformed Hearts
How does a heart transform from it troubling anxiety? It begins with a belief in Christ and knowing that this belief is as strong as your belief in God. It begins by living each day for God and Christ knowing that your future is secure and that you need to lay your worries of this world down at the foot of the cross.
Remember the Peanuts cartoon and the character of Linus who always carried his security blanket? He felt that blanket kept him secure in the world. There is a one strip however where Linus questions his blanket’s security telling Charlie Brown, ”When I hear those coyotes howling at night, it totally depresses me. I start to feel lonely”¦Then I get scared.” Charlie Brown replies, ”I thought holding onto that blanket made you secure?” Linus retorts, ”I think the warranty has run out.” Do you feel your security blanket’s warranty has run out?
In the after mass of Christmas as the decorations disappear, the glitter and glitz dissolve, and the routines of life resume into the bleak of winter does your fear return? Do the insecurities that lessened with the bright lights of the heavenly hosts suddenly reappear? Can you find your blanket? Does your blanket work?
I do not ever remember seeing Linus without his blanket until recently it was clearly pointed out that there is a time that Linus is without his blanket. Do you know when it is? It is during Charlie Brown’s Christmas when Linus takes the stage to tell everyone the real meaning of Christmas. He begins with his security blanket held tightly in his hand but then as he tells how the angels visited the shepherds announcing to them to ”Fear not, I bring you tidings of great joy” Linus drops his blanket and a change comes over his whole body. He gleefully continues the story of Christmas and the meaning of the Christ-child. It is in the remembering of the sacrifice of Christ that Linus drops his blanket and his fear disappears. I couldn’t help but notice that upon him finishing the story of the meaning of Christmas that once again he picks his security blanket back up. Don’t we all do the same when we take our eyes off of Christ?
As Christmas ends and the New Year begins have you picked up your blanket again? The cure to our fear grounds itselfÂ in the coming of Christ into the world. The angel told the shepherds, ”Do not be afraid” yet too often we immediately reach for the blanket of the world to protect us from our fears when all we need to do is step away from the world and its blanket of problems and place our sight on the eternal future before us. It begins with your belief and continues with your commitment.
Keeping your eyes firmly on Christ alleviates the fear of the world around you. When the insecurities of the world trouble your heart it is then you must make the journey quickly to Bethlehem to where it all begins remembering the joy of first finding the Christ-child and keeping that joy firmly placed in your heart. For the road will be narrow, crooked, and many times dangerously peril but with the joy of Christ in your heart the warranty of your security blanket is not important for it is no longer needed. Your peace of security arrives in the belief of Christ and the trust of your future in God through Him.
As the New Year pushes forward be not afraid but challenged to keep the world at bay and your focus on eternal importance. Live your life not with the troubled heart of fear but for Christ being motivated to give your burdens and cares to Him. Let not your heart be troubled but be comforted in knowing that you have a choice over fear. Won’t you put your trust in God and trust also in Christ?
Love in Christ,
So don’t be troubled or afraid. John 14:27cÂ (NLT)
Credits Anton, M. J. (1976). Good News for Now. Lima: CSS Publishing.
What are your thoughts? Join Us in Discussion
Do you feel your heart troubling as the sparkle of Christmas fades? Do you find it difficult to keep your eyes focused on eternal perspectives instead of earthly ones? Join us in discussion on the difficulties that troubled hearts create and steps to overcome it.