Christmas is fast approaching and advent has been very sweet. God is giving me many gifts this year underneath our tree. It's a good thing Santa doesn't really exist anymore because I'm not sure how good or bad I've been according to some list. All I know is that God is blessing me with some doozies this year and I never expected such love.
The gift of Endurance. This strength in me that laughs at the formerly frustrating and breathes off that weight sitting on my chest. I unwrapped it the other day and have been using it daily with three beautifully dynamic children and the holidays. Stress has been far away, stuck behind t.v. screens and paper ads where it belongs. I don't need what you're selling. I can patiently endure because of the Spirit living within me. How I trust Him!
The gift of His Peace. The world's peace looks like a woman sitting in lotus position in front of a waterfall, bathed in sunlight. It's a picture of a pond as still as glass, undisturbed by the passage of time or bugs and pebbles. Peace as the world sees it is that moment when children are laughing together with grateful smiles and couples are holding hands on a beach in perfect romance. Such a beautiful moment. So unlike the true experience of the majority of our lives. So fleeting and temporary when real life kicks in. Welcome back to real life when a beer can is tossed into your pond, a big sister punches a brother for stealing her toy, and a siren is heard in the distance. So much for that fleeting peaceful moment.
The peace of God isn't subject to outside circumstances and it surpasses our understanding. Jesus Peace sleeps below deck as hurricane-force winds threaten to sink His boat. "Why are you afraid?" He says after He calms the storm to demonstrate His power, not necessarily His peace. The peace demonstration happened as He slept, rocked by the rowdy waves.
His peace is a quiet assurance, a blessed assurance, that even as hands are bound and feet are led toward the stake, freedom rings within. Laughing to the slaughter, they say. Or in terms of modern day strife, smiling amidst seemingly hopeless opposition. Truly smiling, not crazy-guy smiling. But it's a peace that stretches the lips wide in a joyful grin, even as the world crumbles to pieces around you. "How can you be happy a a time like this?!" Only because I know Who I trust.
The gift of His fire. He is showing me hidden things. Manna that He's dropped in crevices almost out of reach. But I want His blessings so badly, His messages of wisdom and His supply, that I won't pass up the dark corners or neglect the smallest clue. I reach for them. I seek after Him with all that I am. He's got the good stuff.
His gifts can be hidden. I remember playing "hot or cold" and how excited I was when I got close to the object that had been hidden. The kind guidance when I was going the wrong way, "...getting colder ...chilly now, oh man you gotta be freezing!" Then when I'd be headed in the right direction, "...getting warmer, hot now... blazing hot!!" And the joy of finding it, when we all laughed and joked about being burned up.
The fire of God's Holy Spirit blazes steadily within me. When it grows dim and colder I know I'm headed in the wrong direction. He ever so gently warns me with things getting a little hard to distinguish in a fading light. It's subtle, like a torch losing it's flame. So I kindle it anew by seeking Him in His word, devouring the truth and soaking in what I find. I praise Him for who He is and acknowledge Him in everything good. I force myself to remember his goodness, His sweet taste, the "smell" of Him on my clothes. He tells me, "Now you're getting warm."
There are so many rich gifts under my tree this year and I've been able to peek at them all month long. His enduring love, His peace, and His blazing fire are all a part of my every day. I hold them. Christmas morning I will unwrap them again and unwrap His birth in Bethlehem as a baby. I will acknowledge that He was just like the baby I hold every day. He was a baby!
The shiny paper will fly and the kids will smile gleefully. It will be a very beautiful moment, but He will make it so it never has to end.