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Vol. 8 - Faithful waiting
December 23, 2010

Christmas greetings to you!

In this edition of Refresh Your Soul:
When the wait stretches long
Soul care for Christian leaders
A second location coming soon!

In the next Refresh Your Soul:

When the wait stretches long
An Advent reflection for any time of year

Waiting is just plain tough. My earliest memories of waiting are from my early childhood as I could hardly wait for Christmas to arrive. How many more sleeps would it be before that final night when I could hardly sleep? The ‘number of sleeps’ was tangible enough to keep my young heart believing that the wait for the delights of Christmas morning would one day be over.

Much of life involves waiting and rarely is it easy to do. We wait for a dream to be fulfilled. For a spouse to show up on the scene. For circumstances to turn around for our good. For news important to our well-being. For test results, for healing or--when it is denied--for endurance to be granted until, at last, we will meet God face to face.

Advent offers us tools for the wait. Each candle which is lit during the Advent celebration represents a virtue which reminds us to stir up hope, peace, joy and love in our hearts as we anticipate the Saviour’s birth.

These qualities are indispensable for those who are called to wait--in any season. So whether you read this in anticipation of this year’s Christmas celebration or some time in the future, may these words and the accompanying Scriptures stimulate your endurance and faith in your waiting experience.

Hope is essential if the waiting heart is to endure. Counting the number of sleeps keeps hope alive in a child.… Counting on the faithfulness of God does the same for us adults. One of the strongest hope-stimulating passages of Scripture is Isaiah 40. In The Incomparable God I write about how God answers Judah’s plea that God has forgotten her by revealing more of himself. More of God is exactly what a weary, hopeless heart needs. (Isaiah 40: 12-31)

Peace stands opposite the anxiety which appears so often during a time of waiting. David knew that peace was to be found in God alone but he needed to remind himself to find it there. (Psalm 62) The dove is my favourite Christmas symbol, which speaks of the promise of peace which Jesus has bestowed on us. During his final evening on earth Jesus, knowing his disciples would face trouble in this world, left them his peace as an antidote. “My peace I give to you…Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid”. (John 14:27, 16:33) When we press into God’s peace, anxiety is flushed out of our hearts, for the two qualities cannot dwell in the same space. Doing this as often as necessary allows the fruit of peace to grow.

Joy. Gratitude disarms a sense of entitlement, which always steals life from our souls. When I choose an attitude of gratitude and look to all that I have (instead of what I don’t have), a world of joy opens up to me. It’s a deep joy which runs below the surface of circumstances. Joy which might not show itself immediately with a face filled with laughter but is present nevertheless in a steady soul that knows it will not be shaken. (Psalm 16:7-11)

Love. The greatest theme of Scripture, proclaimed from beginning to end, sings of God’s unfailing love. Hesed is the Hebrew word for the Lord’s covenant love which will always endure. Sometimes during the pain of waiting, we forget that this promise still applies to us. But it does! The Lord proclaims his love for us over and over again in the Bible, and David especially is one of the strongest voices to stimulate our faith in this unchanging truth for us. “Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings.” (Psalm 17:8, 36:5-9, 89:1-4)

Add your own story of what has stimulated your own faithful waiting at my website.

Deeper Devotion News

Soul care for Christian leaders

Christian leaders are a group who naturally value soul care but often suffer from soul neglect as the demands of ministry take their toll. Spiritual direction finds a 'sweet spot' among spiritual leaders, providing a place for confidential reflection on one's life with God and stimulating spiritual practices which will sustain a healthy life an ministry.

My hopeful prayer is that my new brochure will, in partnership with my website, get the word out about the value of spiritual direction for the lives of both established and developing leaders.

A second practice location!

Beginning in February 2011, I will work a portion of my time out of the Eliagg Christian psychologists' practice located in Uithoorn.

I primarily work out of my home but this setting of working alongside other professionals in an office setting will open the door to work with more Christian leaders. I’m excited about this development, and the timing is perfect, for the practice will move to a brand new facility as of February.

If you know of Christian leaders in Holland who might benefit from meeting with me, feel free to forward this e-letter to them or to connect us in another way. Online spiritual direction is available for those who live at a distance.

Wishing you a beautiful Christmas celebration and a fruitful and faith-filled New Year!

Elizabeth de Smaele
MMus, MDiv, CSD
Amstelveen, The Netherlands

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