I want to encourage you with 3 keys to unlocking Christmas because I believe there is freedom from your past hurts, present circumstances, and future fears.
I wrote those words in my most treasured book Forgiving Others, Forgiving Me. Out of all the books that I’ve written — that phrase still haunts me the most.
Your past hurts.
And future fears.
The key that unlocks the past is forgiveness.
You and I may not have a perfect past. It may not be filled with magic like a Disney movie, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from it.
If forgiveness is key, how come you and I have such a hard time letting go? You can only control how you act, react, and respond. We have the idea that forgiveness takes two people, but really it only takes one–and that’s you! (Forgiving Others, Forgiving Me)
I asked the ladies at the Christmas tea if they knew what people’s number-one fear was. I was surprised that one woman guessed immediately. She said: public speaking. But I was doubly-surprised at how easy the women were guessing topics such as: fear, suicide, rejection, death. Things that I wouldn’t expect from these beautifully dressed up women at a fancy women’s tea.
But you know what?
As much as going to the dentist and public speaking are technically people’s number-one and number-two fears — that doesn’t mean that you and I don’t struggle with life-changing topics such as forgiveness and rejection.
An encouraging verse to help you turn that key to unlocking the past says,
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5, NIV).
Every time you replace an ugly lie or half-truth with the Truth of the Gospel — you help turn that key even faster to unlocking any bitterness, hurt, grudges, or unforgiveness from the past. Take that first step today and learn how to forgive others including yourself!
The key that unlocks the present is faith.
I waited 12 years, 10 months, and 24 days from the day I knew God promised me the best Christmas gift ever to the day Marc proposed down on one knee in Coronado.
We recently celebrated our 3 year anniversary in Costa Rica, and I was so blessed to check off another big dream of mine of finally getting my first stamp in my passport.
But what did I do while I was waiting on my big dreams? I learned how to practice my faith muscles by getting involved in my church, the community, and starting a business. I wrote like mad through each and every health problem. Through each low valley and high mountaintop experience.
It’s crazy to see how God has taken one of my biggest passions, writing, and turned it into a ministry.
I’ll never forget the words a co-worker told me many years ago. She said,
“The Lord wants to birth a ministry through you — not to say that your future husband isn’t important.”
I never forgot her words because she was right.
The present may be filled with many roadblocks, bumps in the road, and all sorts of pot holes — but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have faith in the journey. My Type A personality took many years to learn that progress (the journey) is more important than perfection (the destination).
An encouraging verse to unlocking the present says,
For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7, NIV).
Fear is personal.
It can feel like you’re ripping your own heart out of your chest. Even the thought of it can make you anxious–and if you’re anything like me, anxiety is your present spiritual barometer. Right now, maybe some of you may be feeling faith rising up. Your heart is flip flopping. There’s a tug deep down somewhere. You want to do more than just surviving this Christmas — you want to thrive. Ask God to give you a faith bigger than your fears for yourself, your family, and those around you.
The key that unlocks the future is grace.
Before I share with you the Good News of the key of the future, which is grace — I want to share two stories about two friends.
One of my friends sent me a nasty-gram on Facebook before blocking me. I tried to get in touch with her through email and on her cell, but she refused to return my emails or phone calls. I even went to her work place with a dozen white roses. No matter what I did, she would never tell me what I did wrong to hurt her.
I was flabbergasted.
I did everything right to try and ask for forgiveness — yet I was never given the chance.
Another friend of mine got into an argument. I cussed her out over the phone. I was so upset that she would go behind my back that I let her have it. To this day, I regret “losing-it” over the phone. I purposefully reacted in such a way hoping that we wouldn’t have to continue being friends (I’m just being honest. You know you’ve done that before).
I was shocked.
I did everything wrong and purposefully didn’t ask for her forgiveness — yet she forgave me anyway.
I share these stories from Forgiving Others, Forgiving Me because you and I need grace (and mercy). I didn’t deserve to be treated badly, nor did I deserve to treat my friend badly. You can do everything right — and still not deserve to get into Heaven.
Like my friend who forgave me — God extends us grace even when we blow it (big time). And even like my first friend — when we think we’ve done everything right, it’s never good enough to bridge the gap between us and Him.
By grace we’re saved.
An encouraging verse to unlock the future says,
But because of his great love for us,God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:4-10, NIV).
If you have not yet accepted God’s gift of grace, I encourage you to pray this prayer with me today:
I confess that I have been blaming myself for too long. I cannot be good enough to get into heaven or earn your grace. I need your free gift. Please forgive me of my sins so that I can accept your Holy Spirit into my heart. Wash me clean. Set me free. Give me a bright future full of hope and grace. Thank you for loving me! In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Good news! If you prayed that prayer–God now calls you His friend (John 15:15).
I just found out at least one of the women prayed to receive Christ at the women’s Christmas tea — Praise the Lord!
It is my prayer that you and your loved ones will have a Merry Christmas.
May you use the 3 keys to unlock your best Christmas yet!