The festive dinner is done, dishes cleaned up and our family are on the way home. In a few hours those two words, Merry Christmas, will be tucked away and saved for another year along with our favorite Christmas music.
For most, the Christmas rush is behind us and the wrappings of the holiday are ready for the next trash pick up day. In the aftermath of gifts, festivities, holiday food and fun, there is still one message ringing loud and clear for our hearts to take into a fresh new year.
Summed up in a single word, the greatest take away of this season is LOVE.
My adult story is wrapped around realizing that even as a Christian I did not personally know God’s love for me. For years I lived in insecurity and fear. Believing being good enough would equate to being loved enough, I lived to be good–for Jesus and others.
But I learned young that life and people are not predictable. That is when I plunged into starting over with Jesus with a main goal of knowing how I was connected to him, what he thought of me and what his love meant in real terms.
I can honestly say that the past 30 years God has shown up in the deepest places of my heart, teaching me how to lean into the truth of His love. In the end, what we need is… to know and rely on the love God has for us. We are told that this kind of love reliance drives out fear. ( 1 John 4:16-18) There is no fear in love. Imagine a life without fear. This is the gift of Christmas waiting to be unwrapped 365 days a year.
It is from this place of secure love that we can learn to love others well.
Yearly I revisit this Christmas reading,
1 Corinthians 13: A Christmas Version.
Here it is in part:
If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls, but do not show love, I’m just another decorator.
If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not show love, I’m just another cook.
If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love, it profits me nothing.
Love stops the cooking to hug the child. Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband. Love is kind, though harried and tired.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails.
Video games w2ill break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust, but giving the gift of love will endure.
-by Sharon Jaynes
As writers we can weave words and spin stories, but if we don’t have love none of it matters. We can publish books, win awards and maybe even make a little money, but without love it is nothing.
My prayer for 2023 is to love God and others more. This is a challenge because to love means I will have to continually lay a little bit of me aside while choosing to follow Jesus on the sacred journey of learning what it means to lean into God’s love on the inconvenient and hard days.
What about you?
How has the love of God affected your life?
How has someone you know impacted your life through love?
How can you live out God’s love to others?
Wishing you love in the places of real life that challenge you the most. And, wishing you a New Year marked by the presence of God in all that you set your hands to.