I Peter 3:15, "But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have."
I thought that as we enter this Christmas season this was a fitting verse for two reasons. The first reason: it reminds us of where our focus should be each day. Not on shopping or baking or spending, but on our hearts being set apart for Christ. This isn't something we can just hope for. It's something we have to be intentional about. Today begins advent. Advent means "to prepare." We can use the coming days to prepare our hearts for His coming all over again, anticipating Him like a child anticipates the gifts on Christmas morning. We can seek Him anew, recommitting our time and our intentions to learn more about Him and draw close to Him. What better time than now?
The second reason: As we are committing our hearts, we need to be on the lookout for hearts that need the encouragement-- the hope-- that we have found. Now more than ever there are people looking for hope, wanting to know, "How can you have hope when the news is so bad?" Each morning we can ask God to show us who needs some encouragement from us; who needs a hug; who needs us to pause, look into their eyes and really listen; who needs us to pray for them, with them; who needs us to develop a relationship with them that will ultimately lead them to Him.
I am learning that leading others to the Lord-- for me at least-- isn't a once and done thing. It's a process, an investment that grows over time and is built on trust. I don't just give one answer for the hope that I have, I give many. And with that, people see my Jesus as real, and trustworthy. And, Lord willing, they begin to want the same in their life. I have to be prepared to share what's going on in my life-- what He's teaching me-- and let Him do the rest. The challenge for me is to persevere and not give up.
Who is looking for an answer from you this Christmas? Who is watching to see how you respond when times are hard? You may never know the impact you will make as you go about your daily life. Not preaching, just sharing Him honestly and openly. Always prepared to give an answer...