Welcome, friend! We’re so glad you stopped in during the busy holiday season! Last week Tracy began our conversation topic HERE. You won’t want to miss the next two weeks, either. Kim will be sharing her thoughts next, and then we have our guest, Tammy Chapman, who we know you’ll love the following week! Don’t miss the new posts each Tuesday.
Beautiful, beautiful Christmas! I (Jennifer) love the beauty in December. I’m a white-lights-and-matching-ornaments kinda gal, and I love our artificial tree. (I’m either saving a tree or sparing myself the aftermath when gravity wins the pine needle battle.) As magical as the season seems to be with the hustle and bustle in chilly weather, frosty street scenes described in carols, decked out windows, and the anticipation of what’s beneath the pretty gift wrap. By now, many of those lovely things can be a distraction to my seasonally overwhelmed soul. So I fight for my peace when we usually celebrate the advent of the Prince of Peace. Ironic? Yeah, I think so.
I’ve been thinking about this month’s question for weeks now. The inspiration for my response has ebbed and flowed (and even flowed right off my hard drive when my laptop crashed one night).
How do I see God? And do you see what I see?
God is love. 1 John 4:8b
Close friends and many readers know some of my personal story. Like all of us, there’s a highlight reel and low lights thrown in for “color” or something, right? When we’re honest, each of us lives life with some desire just outside our grasp; it’s only natural in this world. I always wanted the strong, friendly, perfect daddy my friend showed in every scene of her highlight reel. That was before I knew human daddies were most definitely human.
Almighty God, the Creator of the universe, the Daddy-God who deeply loves us is completely other, isn’t He? His love is free of all limits—not bound by time, culture, or gender. God the Father sent His Son, Jesus, for all of us, and He is who we celebrate this time of year (regardless of the actual birth date). And I love that! The God of the universe loved us so much the Son chose to set aside His heavenly existence and deity for just a while. For me and for you!
But what does that mean?
It means that in a quiet, little town called Bethlehem everything in two realms changed in an instant. The perfect heavenly realm moved and opened the door to the harsh, broken, earthly one. The Almighty, our heavenly Father, answered the deepest need humanity had: reconciliation with Holy God. In Jesus—every desperate need, every faint hope, every terrible fear—answered.
My greatest fears are some tangle of knowing and being known, loving and being loved. And my heavenly Father answers every need and hope and fear perfectly. This Christmas I am finding my peace in Daddy-God’s gift of Jesus—
“To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.” ― Timothy J. Keller, The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God
And that introduces my very favorite Christmas carol this year: O Little Town of Bethlehem.
O little town of Bethlehem
How still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight (O Little Town of Bethlehem, v. 1. Brooks and Redner, 1868)
The Son who would introduce Himself as the Bread of Life was born in the little town named House of Bread (John 6:33-35). Why? To bring life to the world! The hope for something better than this world? Met in Jesus. The fear of sadness, weakness, loneliness, and even death? Met. The fear of being left out of a life with God somehow? Met.
I suppose that reminds me of a twist on an old Latin phrase: He came. He saw. He conquered. But not in the traditional way…
How silently, how silently
The wondrous gift is given!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heaven.
No ear may hear His coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive him still,
The dear Christ enters in. (O Little Town of Bethlehem, v. 3.)
How does He conquer? Jesus comes to that quiet, little town when no one expects Him. His life opens the door to a beautiful, precious, intimate relationship with the Father. Heaven opened with this advent. Relationship was yet to be fully restored and the enemy’s plans completely dashed at the cross, but the new covenant was established and real and happening for the whole earth! That’s me, and that’s you! And “where meek souls will receive him…Christ enters in.” I am thankful our humble ask receives the beautiful, permanent “Yes, I’ll be with you now and forever” response from the humble King.
O holy Child of Bethlehem
Descend to us, we pray
Cast out our sin and enter in
Be born to us today
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell
O come to us, abide with us
Our Lord Emmanuel (O Little Town of Bethlehem, v. 4.)
Friend, the God of heaven really is love!
“For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. Anyone who believes in Him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God. John 3:16-18
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! 1 John 3:1
Do you see what I see? I’d love to hear more about your personal perspective. If you’re brave enough to share, I’d love to listen.
Thank you for reading, friend! I am grateful for you. I wish you and those close to you peace in the holiday season. Mostly, I wish you to feel the amazing love of Almighty God, your Daddy-God.