Reflections by Dot Cutter — January 2020

A happy New Year to you as we welcome another year and another decade.
2020 here we come!

The flurry of holiday preparations is behind us and, if you are anything like me, they started early. Not that I finished early, mind you, but with part of our family cross country it behooves me to get gifts in the mail early. That sent me scrambling up the ladder into our attic for boxes in November. With postage rates having skyrocketed over the years, I try to choose carefully. A box that is big enough, but not too big, for the gift plus the protective stuffing I will use. Will it be bubble wrap or peanuts? Or perhaps a box with packing material and dividers already glued into place? But what I need is seldom obvious initially; for when putting them away the year before, I tend to nest smaller ones inside larger ones to save space. Sometimes there are several inside what I first see! So for me, boxing day is not the customary happy English Boxing Day of December 26, which originated centuries ago as the day when lords of the manor and aristocrats gave small gifts to the servants and employees as a thank you or bonus. Nor does my boxing day bear any resemblance to the church monies that had been collected in alms boxes during Advent and were distributed to the poor on this day, also known as St. Stephen’s Day. No, my boxing day is purely a mad scramble for “the box” that will do the job with as little additional weight as possible. In the process I often make quite the mess while sorting them out and, in the end, I sometimes find myself feeling more like that crotchety old cartoon character Maxine!

But this year’s attic adventure was different. In the midst of the search — and yes, even the mess — the Lord began to speak to me about the similarity He sees in our relationship with Him. Take, for instance, that box I had discarded because it had too much cardboard glued into places that didn’t match my needs. Those compartments actually became obstacles that limited its options for me. The Holy Spirit began to show me how similar our spiritual lives are to that box. Our attitudes and belief systems, varied as they are, can be barriers that limit God from operating in fuller ways in our personal and corporate lives. Those mindsets become useless stuffing or limitations on God’s otherwise limitless power.

God’s visible activity is not limited secondary to lack of power; but we limit His activity in our lives by shutting Him out. We develop mindsets that welcome or exclude Him. Matthew13:58 and Mark 6:6 both address this issue. I puzzled over these passages for a few moments because they refer to unbelief as the impediment. But the Spirit said to me, “Is not reluctance to do as I direct representative of unbelief because you do not fully trust me to lead you in ways that are beneficial to you and My kingdom?” Wow! That slowed me down for a few minutes of contemplation. So — the effectiveness of Jesus’ ministry in our midst will be curtailed or maximized by our openness to His Spirit’s movement and direction. If we resist because something is different from the familiar or what we think it should be, we hamper the advancement of His kingdom. Our choices present the Lord with open or closed doors to our hearts and His choice is not to resort to coercion to bring about His desires for us.

May this be a year when we become so sold out to His reign in our hearts, that we give Him an empty space in our hearts and minds to create and bring forth what needs to happen, confident He will also give us the grace to embrace His new work in our midst.

Blessings this New Year,
Dot Cutter