If you drove through our neighborhood this Christmas season, you’d see some pretty impressive displays.  When you live in the desert during the holidays, it takes a little extra to really catch the holiday spirit.  And people are delivering.  Lights on every tree and bush, PVC archways creating tunnels of flashing festivity over driveways and sidewalks, nativity scenes, tribes of inflatables waving and greeting, even Chewbacca and Yoda are making an appearance of Christmas spirit in a number of yards. Rooftop displays include even more lights, giant tinsel lighted snowflakes, and Santa and his reindeer (of course).

Our own display is low-key and understated (translate – we’re not willing to create a budget line for “Outdoor Holiday décor”).  We have a few strings of lights outlining our eaves and our little front porch while a single inflatable snowman smiles, unmoving, his hand in a fixed waving position, a singular bastion of inflatable Christmas friendly…

when he’s not laying down on the job.

Our Snowman has a little trouble staying upright.  We make the standard jokes that he’s into the eggnog again while I adjust the strings that stake him to the ground and (supposedly) keep him from falling over.  The biggest problem is that when he does fall, he seems to do so backwards, and the little fan that is supposed to inflate him is trapped downward in the rocks where he stands. The fan continues to spin, but with no air to draw from, bit by bit he deflates, until he’s just a pile of fabric bearing little resemblance to the friendly festive symbol of Christmas he is when he’s at his best.

I sometimes feel a little like my fallen snowman friend. Although I might be physically standing, emotionally, psychologically, even spiritually, I’m just in a heap, barely resembling the woman God created me to be. There are days that life feels completely overwhelming, my devotional life isn’t what it should be, my prayer life is in shambles and although I’m going through the motions to keep things rolling along, internally I feel deflated and empty.

In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he offers up this prayer for Spiritual strength:

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.  Ephesians 3:14-19

In this single paragraph, Paul explains the how, why and where-from of strength as he explains the role of each person of the trinity.  The Father.  The Spirit.  The Son-Jesus.

I read this today shortly before I went outside to once again revive our fallen snowman and as I readjusted the deflated fabric so his little fan could get air, I suddenly saw myself – not my best self, but my sometimes collapsed and discouraged and flattened self.

The collapse often hits gradually – for me it begins when I get a little “off center”.  When the place from which my little spiritual fan should be getting air gets crowded out by other things.

I wish I could say that this never happens to me, but it does.

And not usually in times of real crisis.  In those times I am in the Word and on my knees – often literally. And my God always meets me there.  Not always with the result I want, but certainly with the strength to move through it – whatever “it” turns out to be.  Over the last 8 years that I’ve tried to faithfully follow Christ, I can truly say that my worst times in life have been my some of my best times with Jesus.

No, for me the real danger zone in my spiritual life seems to be when things are…regular.  Status quo.  Nothing amazing and nothing bad. It is then that I become lazy in my prayer life and less diligent in the Word.  I feel a little tinge of stress and maybe I eat a cookie (or three) to make myself feel better.  A lousy day and I’m off to the couch for a date with Netflix.  A blow-out with my son and I retreat to Facebook (because looking at everyone’s highlight-reel of their perfect lives and perfect kids will surely make me feel better about my dirty dishes, unfolded laundry and the tirade of 8-year-old back-talk I just dealt with, right?).

Suddenly I realize I’m just “off”, and although I’m doing all these different things to feed my feel-better fan, none of it is really doing the job – at least not in any sustainable way. I find myself down and discouraged, and yes, just like my snowman friend, deflated.

I need to readjust and make sure the air I’m getting is the air I need.  If my fan is in the dirt, it doesn’t matter how fast it spins, it’s not going to fill me.

Nothing fills me like the Almighty God can.  Nothing fills my emptiness like a God who has infinite riches from which to revitalize me. Nothing refreshes my soul like the Holy Spirit who speaks to the depths of my spirit and pours out his refreshment upon me. Nothing soothes my hurting heart like my precious Savior, Jesus, who loved me enough to sacrifice himself for me. I want the revitalization, the refreshment, the soothing, the fullness that Paul tapped into to find joy and peace in a prison cell as he wrote this letter to his beloved friends in Ephesus.

I'm probably not going to get THAT from a cookie, no matter how good it is.

We are filled when we immerse ourselves in the things of God – when we read and meditate upon his Word, when we pour ourselves out to Him in prayers of both gratitude and grief, when we worship Him for His holiness, His power and His unfathomable love for us.

What we need most is found only in the fresh air of God.  Let Him fill you with it.

(There’s more!  Read it in entirety at: https://redletterlifeblog.wordpress.com/)

Catharine Phillips
loveSTRONG ministries