Something pretty powerful occurred to me today. Have you ever had that happen? Where your jaw drops in realization of this awesome thing that has been there all along but you are beholding for the very first time? I've had the privilege of being in a creative environment lately, fostering ideas that are ripe for the picking. But this one today was a by-product of none other than the Holy Spirit Himself revealing deep truth to my heart.
I've been overwhelmed lately with our GENEROUS and GRACIOUS God who apparently cannot help but GIVE. It seems that every time I open my Bible I read something like, "And the Lord GAVE..." Over four hundred times in Scripture giving is associated with God!!!! That is seriously significant. It's almost like it's central to his character or something.
Christmas spiritually (I won't say naturally because that just isn't true) brings out this concept especially when we consider the Gift of Jesus Christ. We reflect His Gift in giving gifts to others. What occurred to me today is that EVERY SINGLE GIFT IS DIRECTLY CONNECTED TO SOME SORT OF SACRIFICE. When we give to others, we sacrifice our time, our money, our talents, sometimes our sanity for that one moment of appreciation or at least acknowledgement by the ones we are desperate to show our love toward. Show me a gift and I'll show you the sacrifice. Giving always costs something. I know, I know, call me Captain Obvious. But this should make a difference.
Isn't it embarrassing when you leave the price tag on a gift you've given (or worse on one you've received)? We feel that the sacrifice should be kept a secret because it somehow suggests the value we've assigned one we love. In the case of our GIVING GOD, the price tag left on His gift is "My Son, Jesus Christ." Only He left it on His gift so we would know; He was not keeping it a secret. Do we appreciate this Gift, this Sacrifice in the same way we receive a gift from a friend or family member? We appreciate it for this one moment in time, during this season of the year but seldom show our joy and thanks at any other moment. Don't you want things to be different? I do. I want to enjoy the thrill of opening up His Gift every day so His sacrifice is ever on the forefront on my heart. It's hard to keep His sacrifice a secret when it resides on the tip of my tongue. Some days I might open it up slowly, savoring the pleasure of His grace. Other days, I shred the paper like many kids will do over the next couple of days to get to it as fast as I can so I can begin enjoying it ASAP. However I open it, the point is that I do. I want to remember, delight and revel in His Gift. For His Gift(Read Sacrifice) SAVED MY LIFE.
This idea of sacrifice leaves me speechless when I stand before GRACE Himself in the same way that my worthlessness makes me kneel in light of His HOLINESS.
Take time this year to be still and know that He is the GENEROUS and GRACIOUS GOD, who offered the willing SACRIFICE of His Son for you, undeserved one loved by a KIND and LOVING FATHER.
Last year around this time I was holed up in my room putting finishing touches on one gift while brilliantly plotting a solution to another present that wasn't quite turning out how I originally envisioned. My little workroom was buzzing as though it had were guilty of drinking the espresso that I should have been. During each break, I would work on picking the hardened hot glue off the tacky countertops in my room that was once a kitchen. Admittedly, I went to bed physically exhausted but kept my focus on the joy each act of love would bring the recipient. And, I figured, even if they didn't appreciate it, it was still worth the thrill of the process.
True confession: I think I've had a lot of pride over being the best gift-giver. I mean, I created powerpoint slides with a friend's name as a header followed by extensive bullets on what would make them happy. If there were prizes for such a thing, I'd be a contender, or so I internally boasted.
Then came Christmas 2013, the strangest Christmas of my life so far. My nights are not consumed with crafting since resources are scarce. I never realized how much of my identity I had tied up in what I could DO. Maybe I was seeking affirmation from others with every project; maybe "gifts" really is my love language and so not giving gifts this year is comparable to telling people I don't love them anymore. Or maybe I was getting swept up in the "spirit of Christmas" rather than in the SPIRIT of Christmas, the Spirit who reminds me to worship the King. I was blocking out His voice.
This year is different not just because of what I'm not creating, but because of what I am GIVING. I want to be the one who falls at the feet of the King offering the only thing I have to give. It isn't gold, frankincense, myrrh or a beautiful handmade scarf, it's me. I don't feel like I'm very much of a worthy gift these days. But thankfully (oh so very thankfully!), the ONE who receives my heart is thrilled with this offering. It delights him to see a heart that is fully committed to Him so He can do His God-thing and strengthen the heck out of it. Christmas really is totally about worship and worship is about making myself a living sacrifice to the One I adore, who came here for me, so that He could have my heart. I haven't always taken advantage of this seasonal reminder to give Him my heart, which is a shame because by this time of the year I've usually tried to take it back for myself again.
Don't waste any more time this year. Stop what you're doing and spend the rest of this beautiful season worshiping the King with all you have to give.
Brittany Van Ryn
Working out thoughts with HIM.