They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces will never be ashamed.Psalm 34:5
For many readers Christmas 2016 is a wrap! The decorations are tucked away, the furniture that was wiggled around to make room for the tree is all back in place and most of the new clothes, toys and things have already been worn, played with and maybe even lost a little of their luster. So what do we have to show for it?
If we focus on the “stuff” of Christmas, it’s hard to see any traces of it left at all but if we shift our eyes and heart to the gifts that really matter, we are left full to overflowing! The miracles remain and sadly they aren’t even completely unwrapped. The wonder still possess it’s power but we’ve rushed past without unraveling it all. The simple genius of the whole plan is still virtually untapped. We tend to see our Christmas gifts in a narrow, maybe even selfish way. We look at them and evaluate how well they pleased or surprised us. Will they make me look nice; will they make my life easier; will they benefit me in some way. Are they the right color, size, make and model I wanted or do they leave something to be desired?
The truth is, the real gift is always a perfect fit but it gets lost in the shiny stuff; the worldly stuff. The real gift may not bring us instant gratification and may not be to our direct specifications. The real gift may even appear to be so simple it couldn’t possibly be of great value. In order to make the real gift everything we needed it to be, God sent his Son in an incredibly simple, humble, non-threatening fashion so as not to frighten, intimate or threaten us. God could have ripped open the sky or sent his Son amidst thunder and lightning or accompanied by legions of soldiers, trumpeters and fanfare. But he didn’t!
I for one, can be a complete knucklehead most of the time when it comes to recognizing and appreciating all God is doing. The story repeats itself again and again throughout history; the lowly are visited by a heavenly dignitary. Noah, Moses, Mary, Joseph, Shepherds and us! Same story, we are lowly, regular folks just fumbling our way through life trying to figure out how to get to heaven and BAM! God meets us right where we are and offers to love us, shows us his mercy and asks us simply to love him in return and spread his merciful love to others. Over and over we talk ourselves out of recognizing the invitations, promptings and confirmations of the Father. They don’t look or sound like we pictured it, so it must not be God…as if we know better how HE should be. God was all about the lowly and the humble. Isn’t it funny that he favors the lowly and humble and most of us here on earth are scrambling to be powerful and noticed…humm! Maybe that has a little something to do with why we can pack Christmas up and forget about the amazing gift we all received. Heck, I’ve received that gift more than 50 Christmases in a row and I still don’t fully appreciate it.
As we near the end of the Christmas season early this week, I’m trying to wrap my heart around the gift. I spent some time looking at Christmas cards and images, especially the ones with Mary and Jesus and I realized they all have something simple and beautiful in common. It’s the gaze…the gaze of Mary looking at her Son. Her eyes are locked and loving and your heart can just feel the tenderness in her eyes. Again I was struck with how simple God makes things for us…it’s all in the gaze. I came across this little prayer the other day and it struck me as just the thing to help me keep looking at my very best Christmas gift with wonder, and gratefulness all year. It made me realize that the gift grows in value when it’s shared and the way to share it is as simple as a gaze. “Father, you have favored me with your gaze of tenderness. Send me to share this gaze with anyone who needs to be lifted up.” Gazing; how simple is that! Just like the king in a manger…seems so simple we might be likely to overlook it; but let’s not!
A Seed To Plant: If this prayer hits your heart like it did mine, copy it down and start gazing!
Blessings on your day!
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