This Advent (and year) has been one of wanting. Wanting more fun, more good news, and someone else to cook dinner. Wanting more of my family and much less of them at the same time. Wanting things to be normal but also everything to be different. Wanting Covid to go away forever.
For the record, I can’t remember a day in my life when I didn’t love Jesus. I’ve prayed and gone to church since forever. I’ve collected shelves of books and Bible studies about God. I’ve taken classes, retreats, and even answered a call to ministry.
Sometimes, in all of our coming and going, we forget what love looks like.
How could we forget? We were made from love, for love, and to know it when we see it. True Love, that is…
True Love is when truth and love come as a package deal.
True Love means having common interests and shared goals. True Love laughs and cries at the same things.
True Love means wanting to talk long about what’s on each other’s hearts and minds. True Love already knows without saying a word.
True Love sacrifices and moves closer.
Healthy, human relationships can give glimpses of this kind of Perfect Love, but only with God do we have a chance.
With. Such a short word for God’s Big Plan.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”Deuteronomy 31:6
Humans struggle to understand perfect presence. For us, “with” can be associated with burden or selfishness. Sadly, it can also mean danger or abuse. When we put our various human spins on “with”, we end up afraid, making excuses, and choosing to be alone. No thanks, God. Maybe another time?
The good news is God didn’t make humans because He was looking for love. Our Triune God has always enjoyed flawless, eternal communion with the Father, Son, and Spirit. He needs nothing, but created all things from an overflow of heavenly, life-giving love. He made us because He always has more to give.
True Love is the absence of need.
Maybe Immanuel starts with believing three truths at the same time: God is God. God loves me. And God’s here. Some days are light and divine, and faith comes easy. Other days, I’m O for 3.
I guess that’s why God is always telling us to take one day at a time.
Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day…Exodus 16:4
Give us this day our daily bread…Matthew 6:11
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.Matthew 6:34
Maybe living with God is about recognizing True Love in the faithfulness of a sunrise and in the uncertainty of night. In a manger and on a cross. In silence and as a Voice deep within.
Maybe with God means opening the door to Him as many times as I’ve closed it.
Maybe Immanuel is more about receiving than I remember.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.1 Corinthians 4-8
This morning, I’m sitting in the light of our Christmas tree, surrounded by wrapping paper, to-do lists, and God Himself. It’s more than enough, and I feel full and certain.
Before I go to bed, I’ll place a tiny Baby Jesus figure in our nativity as a sweet reminder that the God who loves me is here. He’ll be a reminder of Immanuel, because I’m quick to forget. Even on Christmas.
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morningLamentations 3:23-23
True love means waking up after a long, dark night to a gentle light and sweet assurance. I’m here. I stayed.
To be continued…
P.S. Only more post to go in this nativity series. To get caught up, click HERE.