Hello… it’s been a while…
I’ve just been busy. Life has a habit of being busy and the evenings are too short and time for this kind of writing is rare. I’ve lost my train of thought… so here’s a new one. A good one.
It’s 22nd December. I’ve wrapped up a pile of gifts to give to our children and our families but what I really want to share with everyone and give to everyone is this beautiful and eternal truth: Jesus is the best gift of all.
I’ve spent nearly a whole twelve months posting a photo on my Instagram account every single day. This ‘Project 365’ started on 1st January as a kind of new year’s resolution, and if I’m honest, I wasn’t sure how long I’d keep it up. But I enjoyed posting the pictures, and my friends seemed to enjoy looking at them. On the face of it, those pictures, they weren’t anything special. They were just simple photos, taken on a smartphone (not even my big fancy camera), of my kids playing, things I baked, places we went, and any small beauty I found in my day.
But as this year has gone on, I can see more clearly: all those moments, they are gifts.
Every moment is a gift.
The simple act of posting a photo each day on social media has triggered an awareness of how many – how abundantly many – blessings I have been given.
These are not blessings that I made. I didn’t create them or design them or deserve them. ‘No one can receive anything unless God gives it from heaven.’ (The Bible, John 3:27.)
I’ve been journeying through Jesus’s family tree this Advent, with the help of the daily Bible readings and devotions in Ann Voskamp’s amazing book ‘The Greatest Gift’, and I have come to see so clearly in this month of preparing for Christmas that all the preparations, they can miss the point. All the striving, the stress, the late nights – they can take your eyes away from the Baby in the manger. The gift of Emmanuel, God with us. This is truly “joy beyond the walls of the world” (J.R.R. Tolkein as quoted by Voskamp). What could we do to bring about this baby’s birth by our own efforts? Nothing. In the same way, God isn’t asking us to perform or to perfect, but simply to allow His love to reach us.
In creeps the Baby in the stable in Bethlehem. The whole of the history of God’s people has been pressing towards this moment. And things are forever changed. ‘The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine… For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders… His government and its peace will never end.’ (The Bible, Isaiah 9: 2ff.)
Jesus himself came to get us.
‘And there He is – the exquisite Gift cut and given for us, broken. The Gift who hung on a tree for us, cut off. The Gift who was pierced for you, wounded – your wounded, willing God, who unfolds Himself on the tree as your endless, greatest gift.’ (Voskamp p. xii.)
What we could not do by our own efforts – fix this world, fix ourselves – He comes to do for us.
This is a love story for all eternity.
So what I want my friends to know this Christmas is this: you are loved, beyond anything you could ever imagine, and He doesn’t ask anything of you than that you receive Him, receive His love.
This is the greatest gift. If I could put anything under the tree for you, this would be it.
Unwrap His love for you this Christmas and know that He gives Himself and that He is where you can find true rest.
Joy, peace and love to your home from mine this Christmas.