Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

With

December 11, 2014

I spent some time this morning reading from a book I’ve been enjoying: The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp. I actually reread the chapter from yesterday. It expanded my mind and brought insight that was breath-taking. The author described the giving of the 10 Commandments at Mt. Sinai in terms of a Jewish wedding; the components of the (cloud) covering, the time of purification, and the contract. Seen in this light, the 10 Commandments are a reflection of a loving relationship and not an angry set of rules. This longing for relationship and loving commitment from God for those He created is absolutely astounding. It is at the same time beautiful and powerful and desperately sad. So much love and blessing and relationship God offers his people; so many lies and betrayals his people give in return. Not just the Israelites of ages past, but anyone who is a Christ-follower today, me included.

Oh how I want my heart to long for Him the way I long for a vacation or a warm breeze on a spring day. I want my heart to be fully given to Him, my thoughts to be about Him throughout each day, longing for a chat, sitting near one another and sharing thoughts unspoken. Just being together.

The kindness of God I take for granted too regularly, as He waits. It’s not like He isn’t doing anything else, but in His expansiveness, He can be caring for the entire world and still long for me to long for Him. Long for me to make space for Him. And time.

God is with us in our difficult times and it’s easy to forget Him during the good times. The relationship God wants isn’t that of a paramedic, but a bridegroom, the closest most intimate friend. God is the Alpha and the Omega, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Prince of Peace; He’s our Physician, Wonderful Counselor and our Shepherd. He’s the Bridegroom. And all year long, not just at Christmas, He is Emmanuel.

Emmanuel…God with us. With. With us! With me, with you!

What a marvel!

This time of year maybe a bit more than at other times, I scurry around, busy and distracted and I don’t allow God With Us to be with me. Unintentionally I shun His mind boggling gift and end up hurting myself and hurting His heart. How can God be with me if I don’t slow down and make the time and the place; if I don’t make our relationship my priority?

I’ve gotten pretty good over the years with starting every day reading God’s Word and journaling and praying, but I’ve found of late that I’m not very good at listening, just being with Him.

I’m like a puppy put on a leash – pulling, twisting, tugging, and I just need to wear myself out, reach the end of my tether and finally lay down. My mind is busy, my body is antsy and I need to ask Emmanuel to help me stop. I need to ask the One who longs to be with me to help me be with Him.

The amazing thing is, He will! He stops and stoops and joins me in my little world, my little life because He is Emmanuel. He is God with us. God with me. God with you.

What a mystery He is – His attention is completely undeserved – His kindness a glorious gift of love.

Maybe I’ll bake no cookies this year. Maybe the house won’t get decorated as extensively. But I plan on becoming better friends with Emmanuel. My King, my God, my With Me Friend.

Christmas cravings

December 9, 2011

I have spent entirely too many hours this week looking through glossy catalogs and surfing the internet, looking for just the right gifts for family and friends. 

I must confess, though, that all the glamor and glitz of the pretty things I saw worked a number on me, and before long I was circling items in catalogs that I wanted, emailing gift suggestions to my husband, for myself!

I’m so ashamed at how quickly I fall prey to the age old greed that accosts me every year at this time, more than any other season. I just give in, like the frog in the pot of boiling water, I don’t even know what’s happening until I’m nearly cooked! 

Then I read 1 John 2:1-17 this morning and it spoke right to me, where I’m at, now! I’m always amazed at how the Bible, thousands of years old, is so relevant to my daily life, little old me, a tiny fragment of a speck of dust in the whole universe of all eternity. But somehow it does, and that’s only one of the amazing things about God that I marvel about! He’s relevant forever!

Anyway, I’ll just write bits and pieces of what grabbed my attention this morning.

“My dear children, I [John] am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous.”  Already, I’m blown away. John writes to us so that we won’t sin. But he knows mankind, as he was a man himself, and knows that being sinless is nigh impossible on our own. What arrests my attention, makes me stop in wonderment, is that in spite of my sin, Jesus pleads my case! Wow! He talks to God on my behalf! He says something like, “Remember Kris, Father, she loves you. Yes, she’s sinned and still does more often than she likes, but I gave my life so she wouldn’t die because of her sins. She is made clean because of what I’ve done! Have mercy on her, Father, because of your love for me and because of your faithfulness and kindness….” Is that ever humbling and precious and powerful! 

After that, John talks about the connection between love and obedience. Profound. (A topic for another post another day!) 

Then John gives this word of advice, an admonishment: “Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.”

Busted! Ouch! I know these things! Why, for pity sake, (to quote my grandma) why do I continue to fall into this trap?! I am just like a little kid, so enamored with pretty colors and trinkets and sparkling new gadgets and am so easily fooled, shielded from seeing reality: these items will lose their fascinations, will age or break or go out of style. They won’t make me more lovable, acceptable or desirable. Nothing will, but Jesus!

Craving. Craving things, craving experiences, craving people’s high opinions of us. John goes on to say, “These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever!”

The older I get, the more in touch I become with the reality of ‘fading away.’ Youth fades, strength and health and vitality fade. Our socks get holes. Our windows fog up or rot out or both. Our cars rust out and break down. It’s the way of our fallen world. It’s no wonder that the prince of this world wants to keep that ugly little fact a secret. He wants to beguile us with more and more, better and nicer and prettier things!  

I think we are designed to crave beauty and newness. That in itself isn’t a sin. Originally, we were made for paradise. It’s in our DNA. God put that desire in each of us. The Garden of Eden was just that before sin began it’s crumbling. It was new and beautiful and perfect and breathtaking and so much more. The problem, where we go wrong and get derailed is when we look for the fulfillment of those cravings in things and achievements, not in Jesus. Think about it. He never changes, he never fades or ages or forgets or lets us down. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. I’d interpret that in this way, in light of what’s on my mind. Jesus is new always. He is able to satisfy always. He is perpetually desirable, enjoyable, delightful to see, and besides, he knows us better than anyone and loves us more than anyone in spite of our sin! That’s real paradise!

This earthly, fallen, paradise lost, will one day be a faded memory, and everything in it that I craved will have returned to dust. I, and the things I have and the ones I love. But! Dust is not the end for those who love God!

John says it right at the very end in verse 17: “But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever!” (This will take us back to the connection between love and obedience mentioned earlier.) I love God, I live my daily life with that always at the forefront of my mind and motivations. As I obey God, I show my love for Him. 

All is not lost! I just need to yank my distracted eyes off of the glitz and tell my cravings to get in line!

Then I can begin to enjoy a craving for peace and love and joy that Christmas is truly about, not all the stuffl

I don’t want to be distracted by things. I want to be devoted to Jesus. I want to engage my heart and mind in Advent this year, craving his presence in my life and seeing Him satisfy it like no one or nothing else can!