(c) Staci Stallings, 2004
As I write this, it is December 5th. I mention that because with Christmas coming up, it is the season of giving. Along with the normal gifts, this is also the season when our thoughts turn to those less fortunate.
The paper angel trees go up in the malls. The kettles and bells come out. The requests from organizations that help the needy - from food banks to Toys-for-Tots - rise exponentially.
This is also the time our thoughts take in all the things we are grateful for and all the things that we wish for in the coming year. In short, this is a very special time of the year.
As January approaches, my thoughts have been on the New Years Resolution I made last year. The resolution itself was simple - to be an angel to as many people as possible. At the time I couldn't have foreseen many of the opportunities that came my way. In fact, maybe I thought of it more as a wish than a real resolution.
However, God used that desire to show me things about life I had never seen before, like how little it takes to make a difference, how a simple heartfelt note can change someone forever, how easy it is to love when you put fear out of the equation.
As the year progressed, I learned what it means to let Him help others through me. I learned that I don't have to do it. All I have to do is let Him guide my heart and my hands. All I have to do is let Him do it through me.
God has helped countless people through me this year - the homeless lady who desperately needed work and who now cleans my house (praise God for her!), the homeless people three states away who are wearing something I no longer needed, the young mother struggling through a heartbreaking betrayal who received a book and a CD filled with Christ's love for her and her family and knew someone cared.
The opportunities were boundless-as they always are. The biggest problem is we find so many ways to talk ourselves out of helping. We're too busy. It takes too long. It costs too much. We have our own problems.
The real problem is that the focus of all of those excuses is in the wrong direction - on "I" instead of on "Him".
St. Theresa once said that we are the only hands that Jesus has on this earth, the only feet Jesus has on this earth now. He wants to use our lives, to work through us in the world. Not because He has to, but because He wants us to share in what He is doing.
As the words of a song that's just come into my life says: "Days go by. . . it's all we've been given, so we better start living right now, 'cause days go by."
I don't think I'm going to set any goals this coming year as I have in the past. I think this year my resolution will be simply to let Him work through me every single day. And my question at the end of each day will be simply, "Who has He helped through me today?"
If you are thinking of trying my "angel resolution" out in your life - even if it is April or August or October when you read this - I know for a fact that you are one more person I can say "This is someone He helped through me today," and who knows the ripple effect that will spread from you to the world?
Peace and joy in your new life as it starts today, because if you take this challenge, today really is the first day of a brand new life.
Want more inspiration? Check out Staci's blog, "Homeward Bound" at: http://stacistallings.blogspot.com You'll feel better for the experience!