Thursday, December 22, 2005

The Christmas Gift

Poor Job. How frustrating to have lived in a time when all that was shared with mankind was the law of the Lord. Grace was yet to come.

All he had was the law and it didn’t make sense. No one could obey every law (though Job did far better than most). What happened to him seemed an unclear punishment for an unclear crime.

Very confusing.

We still get confused. We want everything to make sense. We want the events of our lives to be part of a balanced universe, everything clear, everything fair. The good are to be rewarded and the unjust are to be punished.

Sometimes things just don't seem fair.

For many it gets a little harder during this time of the year.

Donald Miller shares in Searching For God Knows What the idea that we are wired for a relationship with God, and since that is screwed up we seek our identity in each other. He argues that we need to understand who we are by what people think of us, by what we own, what we wear, what we drive. We find our value and honor in how we are treated, especially by those who know us. We place higher personal stock in those close to us, and when they fail us, it costs us more.

We are all so needy (and generally we need much more than we give). That is why there is an inherent imbalance in human relationships. We demand recognition of who we are without giving that recognition to others.

There is an infinite source of affirmation through God. But our selfishness shoves Him aside, and we feel the lack.

There are other reasons people feel blue during Christmas. It is such a big emotional investment. We build up expectations for ourselves, for others, for a sense of peace and love and belonging. We set ourselves up for failure because we aren't creatures where such things come naturally. Additionally, the length of the season creates huge expectations. From Thanksgiving to New Year's is a very long time to bank on the universe playing fair.

When we are hurt during this extended season, especially by the loss of someone close to us, the memory of that loss taints the future seasons as well.

I cannot get a Christmas tree without remembering the first tree I got for my first child... on the morning he died. The sight of that tree leaning on the front porch while police and medics and friends came and went is still clear in my mind's eye.

Many people experience a Christmas when someone close is suddenly not there (Father, bless the Cryders and the Sawyers, may they feel You near). It leaves reminders for years to come. Old wounds throb to the beat of "Jingle Bells" and "Silent Night".

We are simple yet complex creatures. We are not ruled by our minds. We are ruled by our desires, our hearts, our animal natures, our selfishness...

It is in setting ourselves aside that we are elevated. It is in being a servant to others that we are exalted. The greatest servant of all time was the incarnation of God who made Himself nothing so that He could love all.

What an amazing thought! A being of pure love who wanted to share His love with others so much He permitted His own creation to spit on Him, to beat Him, to torture Him, to murder Him.

It is a bluish Christmas for many because humanity has an empty spot. Not just an empty spot where a loved one was, but the empty spot that lies within each human being, even the ones surrounded by adoring sycophants.

As long as we stare at that empty spot we will feel empty. But when we turn away from ourselves, we are filled.

What care He must have for us, what love, that He would set aside His omniscience, His relationship with the trinity, so that he might crawl into creation through the womb of a young woman, learn to walk, go through growing pains and acne and feet that are suddenly too large and voice changes and rejection from those He loved, so that He might bring us into that relationship with our creator.

We tend to think about gifts at Christmas. What a wonder that Christmas began with the greatest gift of all! The gift of a love relationship that is always true, always faithful, always there.

If you have stumbled onto this blog and haven’t accepted that gift, if you don’t feel it or understand what I’m talking about, leave me a comment so that you and I can find another way to chat. Let me share with you personally what He wants you to have this Christmas. He wants you to be loved... f o r e v e r.

Merry Christmas, all of you!


Kc said...

Thanks CS for always helping with my perspective. Happy Christmas to you and your family. ;-)

Anonymous said...

CS, bless you for letting God use you, for his glory though your post!
blessings to you and your family this CHRISTmass and though the new year! :)

Seeker said...

"As long as we stare at that empty spot we will feel empty."
You said it. Concentrate on it long enough, and it's sure to engulf you.

"But when we turn away from ourselves, we are filled."
There's no better way to be filled and fulfilled.... get IT from the Lord, and give IT to someone else!

Thank you for your faithfulness in posting these truths.

Bethany said...

"It gets a little harder during this time of the year for so many."
Yes. Last year my brother in laws father died in his sleep. His grandchild went to wake him Christmas morning...but he was dead.

It's been so hard for him. This year he's basically skipping Christmas. You see, he's not a Christian. He doesn't have God to depend on.

I feel for you and others who have lost a loved one this time of year. I have two other blogging buddies that have lost loved ones recently.

"Today we tend to think about gifts at Christmas. What a wonder that it began with the greatest gift of all!"

What a wonderful gift. A gift that even through the trials and tribulations we face here on this earth we have the hope and promise of an eternal life with Jesus Christ. As well as those loved ones who know Jesus as their own...and your sweet baby.

I know it's going to be difficult. I will be praying for you and your this season...praying for you to perservere until you are reunited with your loved ones and meet Jesus face to face.

Merry Christmas. And thanks sharing your heart. It touches me everytime!

Max said...

Thanks for always sharing your heart with such openess. You're writing about uncharted territory for some of us. I've never lost anyone closer to me than a grandparent and quite frankly, I'm not too sure about how I'll handle things. Your faith in the goodness, and love of God is so encouraging. Know that your experiences you share in this blog are a great help to those who are walking behind you and I'm sure they are a comfort to those who walk beside you.

God bless you and your family this Christmas with unexpected favor! May you find comfort in our God of Love who never changes, who renews hope, and is faithful to the end.

ellen said...

What a beautiful and lyrical post. Merry Christmas to you and yours, CS.

T. F. Stern said...

Important information to remember, feelings ride high or low, and are easily disturbed this time of year. This morning we learned that some good friends of our's son had died. He had been institutionalized all of his life and they would visit him on weekends. It's hard to imagine the pain they feel right now and all we can do is leave our thoughts and prayers of healing with them as they grieve. Thanks for your reminder.

bjk said...

Merry Christmas to you as well...thanks becky

Vicki said...

As long as we stare at that empty spot we will feel empty. But when we turn away from ourselves, we are filled.

These words really rang true in my spirit.

I also liked what you had to say about how we are, in a sense, trying to find our idenity through what other people think about us. Even though the Lord has a lot to say about how he feels about us. However, like you said, we can push that aside. Sad,huh? Being accepted by the one who matters most should be what we really want. Guess we just don't get it sometimes.

Anonymous said...

i have so many "whys" in my head that was left unanswered when my matt died. and what you wrote about an empty spot and turning away from ourseves are so true.

thank you for sharing this and may you have a merry christmas this holiday season. God bless you always.

Lucy Stern said...

Holidays are always hard for some people. Deaths are hard at any time of year, but Christmas must really be hard. I ache for the unhappy who are going thru divorice, or long separations, those on the battle field and just away from the ones they love. Holidays can be challanging.

I hope that you are now able to go out and buy a Christmas tree for you other two sons. That little pang in your heart could be his way of sharing with his two brothers that he will meet someday on the other side. Remember the one you lost and be happy for the ones you have left...

We are all children of God. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

Lorna said...

As long as we stare at that empty spot we will feel empty. But when we turn away from ourselves, we are filled.

This hit me too. Right where it hurts. Sometimes the hole is so huge, so overwhelming, so -everything- and yet if I can drag my eyes, my heart, my soul, even my spirit away from and up from that hole, and focus on Jesus, I am complete

somedays are - quite simply- better than others.

Ragna said...

....And a Merry Christmas to you and yours as well.
Lovingly, Ragna

Rachel said...

What a wonderful post for this Christmas season. Thank you.

Merry Christmas to you and your family!

Pirate said...

CS, we will have to meet someday. you and think a lot alike. The hand God dealt me made me look for thegood in all things no matter the situation.

Merry Christmas.

Dem Soldier said...

Happy Holidays........

FTS said...

Give thanks in all things. :)

So many look inward and become depressed at Christmas, rather than looking upward and finding the hope that it represents.

Peace, joy, and blessings to you and yours on Christmas. :)

Fred said...

Merry Christmas, CS. Have a great holiday weekend.

BHGA said...

Merry Christmas you, and your family....Thank you for sharing the joys and sorrows of your life with me and so many others; your faith is eloquently conveyed in your writing and draws many to Jesus' love.....I thank you for that.

AbbyNormal said...

Thank you for visiting my blog and for your comments. I followed your link back, and what a gift indeed!

Perfect, just what I needed to hear. Merry Christmas to you!

Froyd said...

Merry Christmas!

Judas Hate said...

My wonderful friend!

It may seem strange, but of all the well wishes I have received from family and other friends during this glorious time, yours warmed me the most.

I sincerely wish the gentle embrace of love, peace, joy, friendship and laughter for you and your family. Now and always.

Be well Brother.

And thank you for "The Christmas Gift":-)

addict said...

Have a wonderful Christmas yourself!
My the New Year continue to bless you and your family!

Anonymous said...

who was the io,oooth visitor, to stop at your cool blog CS?
merry CHIRSTmass

curious servant said...

According to my counter it is still at 9,999!

Not sure if it is stuck or what. (My ip address isn't counted.)

I'll go check the counter site and see if there is somethig that needs resetting.

Merry Christmas all!

Anonymous said...

Dear CS, It's my first time reading your blog, and it says I'm your 10,000th reader, so I've just been sitting here wondering what to say. Sorry for getting you worried about your counter site; it's just me who's stuck. I've been thinking that, as we all know, there is nothing that can be compared to the loss of a child. God the Father experienced it, and the Holy Spirit, since He was the spouse of Mary and fathered Jesus, experienced it also. So, somehow, through the pain, I believe you have been given a Trinitarian experience. We rejoice at the birth of Jesus, and yet we know where it will lead. It is the deepest of mysteries for me. God bless you.

Fred said...

I'm 9,999. Darn.

Merry Christmas to you and your family.

4evergapeach said...

Wishing you a Blessed Christmas filled with Peace and Joy!

deni said...

I posted how God has answered prayers for us this Christmas. Even during heartbreak and sadness He is there, and you have conveyed that here. I can't imagine the heartbreak over the loss of a child.

Our loss has been different, in the Prodigal son way, only it is a daughter. I had another Prodigal daughter who returned, I am praying that it will be so with the second.

I pray that God showers you with blessings.

Merry Christmas.

Ernest said...

My friend, thank you for your warm and generous comments on my site and for the light of Christ you share with others. I hope you have very Merry Christmas and God's blessings in the New Year!


MM said...

Merry Christmas, my friend.

Corry said...

A Merry Christmas to you and yours.
May God comfort you, give you strength and many blessings.

God's Grace.

bcraker said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog. Stop by whenever you can!

Merry Christmas!

puremood said...

Merry Christmas. I hope you had a joyful day today with loved ones.

Dotm said...

Enjoyed reading your post. Must admit that I don`t go to Church since I got older, but my beliefs are strong and I do believe that praying is just as helpful when done at home as -anywhere else. You remember the prayers on the mountain in the Bible. To me that said that God hears you wherever you are. Plus my Church now has a sermon to see on TV without leaving the house on these cold snowy days.

happy said...

I agree that you need to give love and feel loved! Thank you! Love is the best Christmas gift, but we need to remember that it's not only Christmas time for love. Love should be in your every day!