This morning I sat cuddled on my couch with cocoa and Christmas cookies, reading my Christmas devotional book. I was practicing stillness, making room for Jesus in a full day. I had to turn off White Christmas and ignore the gifts that needed to be wrapped. I had to silence my inner to-do list and just listen.
A dear friend from our church recently blessed me with The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp. The pages of this book presented a challenge for me to do something “that would be venturing big for God.” (Day 11)
I began to imagine what would be that difficult thing for me. What I could step outside of my comfort zone to encounter our faithful God in a powerful way? I glanced up from my reading and saw my neighborhood in the crisp light. So many houses, filled with couples and families all preparing for winter’s chill. In my minds eye, though, I saw ablaze all the homes that no preparation for eternity. From my knowledge (and I am not trying to be judgmental here) much of our neighborhood is destined for eternal separation from God.
My heart has ached for this neighborhood before. I know families swallowed by pride and culture and religions that lead to bondage. I take my dog on walks, passing homes filled with the riches of this world; my heart is heavy for they do not know the riches of a relationship with Christ.
Earlier this month, I motioned to simplify the holiday to-do list. After consulting with me, myself, and I, it seemed like a good idea to nix the neighborly gifts this year. After all, we go all out to love on our neighborhood for Halloween, and have prioritized sharing sweet blessings every May Day.
In my simplification, I was serving myself (and arguably my family). However, my consensus eliminated Jesus, once again, from HIS ideas for Christmas time.
I am convinced one way adults can rediscover the wonder of Christmas is by rediscovering Christ’s broken heart for the lost. Globally or locally, there are people in our path who need the Savior. It is why He came, after all:
“For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Luke 19:10
Sharing simple gifts with my neighbors is one way I can invite them to our church’s Christmas Eve service. It also promotes relationship, displays kindness, and prayerfully provides openness to conversations over the fence when the weather gets nice again. It is during such conversations, I pray, God will steer toward our joy and purpose in Christ.
Like a redeemed Grinch, I think my heart grew three sizes today!
I am not so much burdened as I am hopeful for God’s great grace and mercy to bring light and salvation to the lost this Christmas. 2016 is a year of hope, I believe, and I choose to act upon such belief. My heart is not made weary by war and refugees, electoral candidates and the decline of the church. On the contrary, having a renewed desire to see the lost found in Christ gives me energy and excitement. Because I know the salvation of the world, both spiritually and physically, is not up to me. It is simply my privilege to join my God in the work He is already doing.
I know what my challenge is today (thank you, Ann Voskamp for prompting me thus). I am joining Jesus’ mission by putting neighborly gifts, along with time spent in prayer for each family, back on my Christmas bucket list this year. It is a small service in comparison to the cross, but that act of love has already been finished. I just get to tell the life-saving story.
“Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Join me in finding inspiration and hope in these lyrics: “The giver of life was born in the night, revealing God’s glorious plan to save the world!” (Who Would Have Dreamed by ason Hansen and Bob Kauflin, Sovereign Grace Music)