Audio Recording of this post — click the ‘play’ arrow below & a farm girl will read it for you, cheering you on, while you keep on, keeping on.
So right after everybody tosses their fabric-glued toga costumes and the glimmer-shedding masks?
Yeah, that’s when things start getting real.
When the day right after all the Halloween candy’s temptingly slashed to what should be an illegal half-price, and parents universally start enforcing just an innocent little chocolate tax?
And those flyers start showing up jingling their not-so-subtle bells —
like mill stones somebody out there wants to fling around your tired neck.
Yeah, watching our tribe of kids bent over the pile of flyers that show up here come the first of November? I’m thinking the apples don’t get whipped in the wind far from that proverbial tree.
Yeah, you better believe it, that was me — the kid drooling over the glossy Sear’s catalogue Wish Book by November 1st already.
Eyes rounding big as saucers that could hold, oh — a veritable teeming sea of things that you could order over the phone and have the rural mailman deliver even without any shiny sled.
When the two page glossy spread opened in 1987 to that pink ROOTS sweatshirt? Yeah — they don’t call them sweatshirts for nothing, making kids’ hands all sweaty just for that cool factor.
You’d think ripping through that Wish Book catalogue you’d find it on some page, maybe right at the forgotten back?
“How to order The Real Joy
Awe and Wonder Right Here — One Size Fits All The Willing
Order Your Reason to Rejoice & Love Christmas like a Kid Again — Free Right-Now Shipping
Brand New Attitude that Eradicates Selfishness, Me-ism, and Materialism this holiday“
Not finding that page in any catalogue. Apple’s not making any flashy announcement: ‘The New Iheart — it’s time to update your life now.’
Yeah, our man-boy, Levi, he’s hunched over the day’s flyers all flashing with blinking and battery buzzing, new plasticy things and just before I can say anything — there’s a word inked across the newsprint that you don’t see most other times of the year —
You bet, sign us up for that, please and thank you, ma’am.
Sign us up for a season of miracles. A miracle right here for one messy, weary mother and a whole bunch of wound-up, messy kids — because the season is going to go down one way or another, and look here, Self —-
What kind of memories do we really want to have, do you want the kids to have, because that’s what the kids are going to carry out of the front door here in 10 years, and not likely anything that required assembly or 3 double A batteries? Nothing wrong with gifts — just where are we going to put the emphasis?
Levi sprawls another one of the flyers across the counter —- and c’mon, Adult Self — get intentional about how this will go down — how you live all these seasons are adding up to your life.
“Hey Kai?” Levi’s circling it in the flyer, “You need another sensor for that little truck your building? They got them for sale at the hobby shop — ”
Watching the kid circling up the flyer, it get’s pretty clear: What the kids want is to be surprised — because part of the delight of a gift is the unexpected of the gift. You get a gift beyond your expectations when it surprises your expectations.
And the thing is: Sometimes the gift you’d never choose is exactly the gift you need most. Sometimes the best gift, is the gift you’d never pick.
Thing is? Jesus is the most surprising gift — because He’s the gift that we didn’t know that we needed most.
Jesus isn’t really on the world’s Christmas list, because the world really wants something that will make a difference externally, because the world thinks our greatest challenges are around us —-
But Jesus wants to give us Someone, to make a difference internally, because our greatest challenges are in us, because He’s the only One who can change everything eternally.
We want things that we think can literally change our world — God wants to literally change us.
We want things we can touch — God wants us to touch Him.
We want things around us to make us feel good — God wants in us, to make us good.
Yeah, it can happen — Jesus doesn’t really factor onto the world’s Christmas list because the world doesn’t think Jesus really has enough Wow Factor.
But Kid — Who made your joy sensors?
Your Joy Sensors were made for Jesus.
Your Maker made your joy sensors to enjoy Him.
You aren’t ever missing out on anything, if you aren’t letting anything make you miss out on Him.
That’s why He came — for you to revel, marvel, delight, adore, enjoy Him. And Jesus didn’t just come down to you — He came as a gift for you.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son …”
Nothing else in your life is a given — but Jesus is the only given:If Jesus had just come down to you — Christianity might be a conditional faith. But that He is gift to you, Christianity is a gift faith.
If you worked your tail off for a month to earn a living and when you were paid, it said across the check: “Here’s your gift in full,” you’d feel mocked and belittled.
But when Jesus comes and the angels sing across the sky, “Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given,” we don’t feel mocked and belittled, we feel merry and bright — because we know at a cellular level that all is grace.
That Christianity and Christmas isn’t something that we earn, but that we are given, that all is grace. At a cellular level we know that Christmas isn’t about the nice getting gifts and the naughty getting nothing; it’s about all the world getting offered grace.
What if there was soul-harm in telling anybody that you only get gifts if you’re good enough —
and what if we were giving our kids a lifelong gift if they knew there’s always grace if they want it because God’s love is always enough?
I don’t know — maybe too long we’ve given the kids this message that the nice get gifts and the naughty get nothing, this sugar daddy message that they have to be good enough to get gifts.
Sugar Daddy Christmases are about getting stuff that you’ve earned for being good.
Savior Christmases are about being given good grace just for being.
God does give the Wow Factor at Christmas — because God gives God. God gives The One Gift that can’t be exceeded — He gave the One Gift that He Himself can’t even exceed. Think about that for a minute…. for a lifetime.
He gives you the One gift, the only Gift, that came from inside of Himself, to change the inside of us. He gave us the One thing that can never be topped — to rescue us who feel like a mess at the bottom.
So look, Amazing Kid with the Flyer — you and I and us, we gotta get Christmas turned around because the thing is: Christmas is the fount of every other blessing. “From the fullness of His grace — we have all received one blessing after another.” John 1:14-16
“If Christmas is true, then miracles could be flowing into our lives constantly… If you believe this miracle of Christmas, if you base your life on it, there is no end to the miracles that can come into your life.” [Tim Keller]
Believe the miracle of Christmas —- and not be pressured into the materialism of Christmas — because “if you believe this miracle of Christmas, if you base your life on it, there is no end to the miracles that can come into your life.”
A Christ-centered Christmas is the one wellspring that you can’t cap.
A Christ-centered Christmas is the gift that flows all year, that gives you all your other gifts, even in the middle of the driest, hardest places in the middle of July.
The miracle of Christmas is that we not only get someOne to face the challenges around us, we get someOne to face the challenges in us. We get to face Someone. We get to not ever, ever be alone.
Yeah, you see it happening, how everybody’s done and have decided they don’t want Christmas by the flyers, by the stores, by the calendar — because what our hearts really want is a Christmas by the Book.
By the Good Book, the Timeless Book, the Priceless Book, His Book— by the stories of the Book that will be here long after all the batteries die on everything else.
Boy, forget putting all the emphasis on the toys this year that are new and improved —- maybe we all want the emphasis on something that’s Time Tested & Already Proven to Be The Best.
I’ve just put my hand on Levi’s shoulder — when Shalom hurtles in beside me like a soul seeking a cleft somewhere, anywhere, in the world, somewhere to crawl into and hide out of the storm.
“I called Malakai a pig.” Yeah, great. That would be us. “And I told him I didn’t love him anymore.”
She says it like a journalist stating a fact — tinged with oh, a wee accent of confession. And then her dam lets go, and she’s a storm of regret shuddering up against me: “And now he won’t speak to me and I don’t care, but I sorta do, and why do I get angry like that, and how does God love us when we don’t even like ourselves anymore or anyone else?”
Yeah, girl —- yeah, that question that gets down into our bones: how to believe that God could really love you?
And I whisper into her hair, “…. ‘member that time that my childhood pen pal sent me that quilt, with the thousands and thousands of stitches?”
“Yeah —-“ She nestles her head further into me, “that Christmas quilt?”
“Yes, that Christmas quilt with all that gold thread — and remember how I asked, ‘But how do we know each other well enough for a gift like this? Why such an expensive gift? A gift that cost so much —- so much time, so much of herself?”
“Remember what Heike said when I asked her? “I love you —- and you mean more to me than you know.”
It happens a hundred times a day — Your soul feels like a bruised sore — and how can you believe that He loves you?
And what does God give you?
Shalom whispers it: “Jesus”
Christmas means God crawled through the cracks of a broken world and right into our broken hearts. He pulled on skin so we could touch and hold Him and be held. Behold Him & be held. Anything is possible now.
Anyone can be impossibly loved now.
Because look at the expense of that Gift —- what could cost more than His Gift? Every time you don’t believe that you mean that much to Him? Whisper, “Jesus. Jesus.”
Because I love you —- you mean more to Me than you know.
You. mean. more. to. Me. than. you. know.
It’s only if our Christmas has true meaning, that our faith has true meaning — that we know our real meaning.
It’s always worth it to give the greatest gift: Jesus.