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I’ve been struggling lately. Plainly worded, I turned my eyes away from God and let them focus on sin.

Much of my disappointment comes from an expectation of what Christmas “ought” to be for me and my family. If it’s not creative and wishful thinking, then it’s sinful thoughts that cloud my head and judgement. Which is also to say that I’ve lost focus of who this holiday is for: Jesus.

I’m sure there are millions of people who feel let down this Christmas. The recession, lay-offs, and financial crises will make many families feel crunched, many children left without gifts, and many parents broken-hearted because they can’t provide.

My own disappointment comes because things haven’t gone as I wanted, and, as I tend towards selfishness most of the time, when my plans don’t work out, I get frustrated. My wife has first-hand experience of this, and for that I am truly sorry.

I don’t know why I had such rosy pictures of Christmas this year. Last year’s Christmas, as our first one together in Canada, was spectacularly anti-climactic. Having thought that this year would be better, I had high hopes. And with high hopes, the drop is much farther.

The central problem is where I stand in relationship to God. These past few days have been “me-centered,” instead of “God-centered.” I too often want to please me instead of pleasing God. I excuse my selfish ways by saying, “Oh, you’ve worked hard,” or “You deserve a break from everything,” when in fact, none of that is true. God deserves my attention more than anything else.  Christmas is about Christ: it’s not about gifts, not merely about fun and snow and goodies, and not entirely about friends and family.

If you’re feeling let down, disheartened, disappointed, or simply sinful, don’t let it consume you. Turn to God. Make this Christmas count, because Jesus made it count.

What will my life look like? Where will I go, who will I see, and how will I get there? These are surely some of the biggest questions we ask ourselves.

The Christian answer is a beautiful one: God, the Father, is painting on a canvas that is so large, we can only see a small portion of the entire canvas. We want to see more, but it’s not in our time to do so.

Another illustration that I came across, and one that I think is so meaningful, comes from Ravi Zacharias, from his book, “Walking from East to West.” Early in the book, he writes about his trips back to his birth country, India. In the north of India, he tells us, the most beautiful wedding saris are made there. Marvelous colors of gold, silver, red, blue, are threaded together in spectacular ways. More often than not, the saris are handmade by a highly skilled artisan. The artisan, usually male, sits on a platform, and his assistant, often a son, sits a few steps down from him. The father has all the spools of silk threads to use at his discretion, and he pulls the threads together using his acquired creative wisdom. The son, meanwhile, responds to his father by moving a shuttle from one side to the other. Over time, the process is so efficient that little communication is needed: a slight nod by the father would signal an action by the son. “Everything is done with a simple nof from the father.” If you’re watching the process, you’d never know what pattern would result from the complex process.

This wonderful story illustrates our inability to see the patterns that the Father has in mind until it’s been revealed, slowly but surely. The design of our God is primary; we react to our Father’s design, namely, His will for us.

I’m positive that many times in our lives we wish to take control of the spools of thread. We want to be the designer, the maker of our life’s tapestry. We want to weave individual threads that would make us richer, healthier, more popular, more beautiful or handsome. We want to weave individual threads for our advantage. This isn’t what God wants for our lives.

For the past several months, I’ve struggled with the first few questions I wrote at the beginning: where am I going, how will I get there? And I can add that I’ve tried to do things my own way, trying to devise plans that will get me where I want to be. The question that remains to be answered is, “What’s God’s plan for my life?”

The Bible assures us that God has a plan for our lives, and that He does all things for our good. My frustration comes because I want control. Submitting to God takes all the control away from me, and that frustrates and scares me.

If our lives are a beautifully woven tapestry from our creator, who am I to want control of the spools? Are my hands so skilled to weave patterns of incredible beauty? Of course not. I can already see the blotches and errors in the tapestry of my life before; those times when I tried to reach up and grab control of the spools. God, always knowing, let me have a go at it, and now I can see the evidence of my selfish desire for control.

I’m sure the title question is one you’re familiar with. It’s sometimes a silent question at the back of your mind, or it’s a loud, pleading question you ask out loud. Over the past three months or so, I’ve been oscillating back and forth, asking God where we’re supposed to go from here.

I ask that question all the time, and I’ve asked it over and over again for years. My wife and I have travelled and lived in many countries, and that question still remains. I realize quite clearly that God knows the answers and I don’t. Trusting God, then, is what I need to do.

A year ago I didn’t even know if my job was secure. I had a temporary, 3-month contract position. I had applied to universities across Ontario for Education (teacher training and certification), but I wouldn’t get an answer for months. So each Sunday (and often on my way to work, actually) I asked God that simple question: Where am I going? I think I ask that question because I want to know what’s going to happen next; I want a sneak preview. In another sense, I think I want to take that excitement of not knowing away.

Did God lead me in righteous ways? Absolutely. I’m studying now for my B.Ed, at 34 years of age, and God has helped me all the way. Incredible.

So why do I feel so anxious these days about “where I’m going?” Why is it that my stomach churns, and I grind my teeth at night, thinking about the uncertainty?

I attribute this anxiety to my lack of faith, and in particular, a lack of quality time with God. Sounds crazy, but there is certainly a direct correlation between the time you spend in prayer with God and the way you deal with worry and anxiety over uncertainty. I’m praying that over the next few weeks, I’ll devote and commit more time to reading the Bible and getting clearer about who is in control of everything, and clearer about who will lead me to where I’m going. He’s done it all my life, so there’s no reason to worry that He won’t do so in the future. This is our loving and caring God.

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What I’m reading now

"Wanderlust: A Social History of Travel," by Laura Byrne Paquet (Fredericton:Goose Lane Editions, 2007) "The Global Soul: Jet Lag, Shopping malls, and the Search for Home," by Pico Iyer (Toronto: Random House of Canada, 2000). "Outliers: The Story of Success," by Malcolm Gladwell (New York: Little, Brown, and Company, 2008).

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