the present of presence.

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Granville Island // 15.12.15

There in the middle of a bunch of engineers wearing red jackets caroling around campus, playing their musical instruments with so much joy, giving strangers their warmest smile and holiday greetings, a little thought came rushing through my mind – what are we celebrating, really. As we sang “joy to the world”, where does that joy come from, really. Christmas has been such a huge festive in today’s world – people are getting busy checking off their Christmas shopping list, streets were decorated with mistletoes, parks invested on millions of little lights to bring the spirit of Christmas, people held contests to show off their ugliest Christmas sweaters, so yes, you can literally see Christmas decorations everywhere at this time of the year. But what are we celebrating, really.

Have we lost sight of the true essence of Christmas? Have our minds diverted from celebrating the presence of He who made a difference to the presents we are getting each year? You know the cliché slogan that says, “Keep Christ in Christmas”. But really, how so? As I was going through an Advent reading plan, I came across this verse:

“For to us a child is born,
             to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon His shoulder,
             and His name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
             Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
-Isaiah 9:6

I took the time to reflect back on my life in how this verse has been quite real in my life. I think over the past years of my life, I have encountered goodness and blessings through the experiences in my life in many different ways.

A Wonderful Counselor He has been. I thank God for His continual guidance and counsel all these years of my life. Sure, sometimes I’d like to think that I know it all, that I know better than He does, Creator of my mind. But there He led me still. Four years ago when I had no idea where I would be going for university, I prayed a simple prayer asking for counsel. Boy, I didn’t expect UBC to come visit my high school the next day to give a presentation, and I fell in love with this school right there. His guidance never left me ever since. Sometimes I’d go off my own way, but He somehow some way pulls me back in. I wouldn’t say that it is the most pleasant thing to me then, having to let go of the plans I have set before myself, but I can 100% assure you that to walk in His will is the safest path to be in. Today, I praise You, God, for the wonderful Counselor You are.

A Mighty God He is. I thank God for being the God who is all-powerful and all-knowing. His hand is full of might – able to handle any kind of brokenness a person can have. All those sharp edges of the cracks of our hearts? I guess it won’t mean anything to Him. He had nails penetrated through His palms and feet, crown of thorns piercing through His head. So to say that He is not capable of handling our brokenness is a mistake. He is more than able to take them all and work His powers in making them beautiful – not to show that I am all that good, but to show that He is all that mighty. Today, I praise You, God for the mighty God You are.

An Everlasting Father He is. I thank God for the crazy love He has been in my life. That boundless love that is never failing and never ending. This hole and longing in my heart – it can only be satisfied by the love He is. So many times in my life I seek for love, that feeling of acceptance, that status of importance from different people by doing different things. I’ve done all that only to know that I am already loved – loved dearly by the Maker of this universe. I remember one night as I was driving home by myself, I nagged on God, asking Him to show me that He loves me. There is a nudge in my heart, and I know it was something. “Look Kim, how can you take so lightly the fact that you are able to drive back home safely, live under a roof, enjoy such a beautiful and privileged life. I’m showing you now that I love you.” Right there, words of nagging come out from my mouth no more. Who am I that He is mindful of me. Who am I that He cares for me. Truly, I will never be deserving of any of His love, but that’s the crazy part of His love – it goes beyond what I can think of. No, I won’t be able to comprehend what is the breadth and the length and height and depth of His love, but even the slightest glimpse of it overwhelms me. Today, I praise You, God for the everlasting Father You are.

A Prince of Peace He will always be. Where do I even start… This characteristic of God has stood out the most, especially in the recent years. In times of chaos, when the storms were just blowing hard on me, when the waves are just crashing over me, there His voice whispered softly in my ear, “be still and know that I am God”. It seems like I have so much fear of the unknowns, the unknowns of my current condition, the uncertainties of the things that will happen in the future, the anxiety of things not happening the way I want them to happen, there is just this battle in my mind of doubts and God’s whisper of His sure promises. Of course, it is a struggle, and is still a struggle, for me to win over that battle, but my experiences taught me enough to continue trusting on Him who is the True Source of Peace. So here in the middle of my storm, I choose to hang on to the God He is, to the Word He said, to the sure Hope He provides, and all the while resting in His uninterrupted peace. Today, I praise You, God for the Prince of Peace You are.

Truly I won’t be able to stand where I am today on my own. Reflecting on the roles God has played in my life just left me wanting more of Him. Yes, I long for His counsel at times when I don’t know what to do or say. I long for someone of great might because I know that I cannot do life myself. I long for a Father who loves and cares for me so perfectly. A love that goes beyond this world can give. I long for a Source of peace even at times when it seems so insensible to be at peace because I know that He is in control of all things and in Him is the safest place to be.

Over 2,000 years ago, not only was a child born. That Child took the place of a Wonderful Counselor, a Mighty God, an Everlasting Father, and a Prince of Peace. Has He taken that place in your life? If He has, let’s take this moment to thank Him for who He is, and let us ask for more encounters with Him as He reveals more and more of Himself in our lives. Let us make use of this time of Advent to celebrate His presence in this world. If He hasn’t, let us continue to seek Him together. Let us open up our eyes more to His works in us and around us. Let us be more aware of His presence. I am inviting you all to prepare our hearts at this time of Advent, as we wait upon His coming, as we expect and anticipate His arrival, and as we long and yearn for more of His presence in our lives. Let us celebrate the present God the Father has given to us – His presence! I thank You, God, for the present of presence You have been in my life.

Spreading the warmth and love of Christmas,
Kimberly Subianto

PS. On a side note, check out Tim’s original song on the essence of Christmas here.

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