Enroute to Columbia, my neck craned towards the steering wheel, eyes peeled for deer and crazy drivers, hands gripped at 10 and 2. You can’t be too careful on a dark Sunday night after Thanksgiving, on I-95. Blue lights flashed, traffic slowed and emergency vehicles appeared. I didn’t need an official report to know folks had lost their lives that day. Driving alone, my thoughts wandered to hurting people. Life is vulnerable and short; it can snuff out instantly. I thought of the horrific Christmas parade incident in Wisconsin. I prayed for the survivors. The empty chairs, empty beds and gatherings where sorrow overwhelms joy. Lost spouses, lost children and lost normal Christmases.
I want to notice people around me; to see through another person’s eyes. How can I be intentional this Christmas season to make someone else’s life better?
In earlier years I was hyper-focused on my to-do list. My holidays rode on caffeinated busyness that demanded impossible perfection. There were days of decorating, the angel tree gifts-shopping, the neighborhood party, the photo card, handmade teacher gifts, friends’ gifts, exhaustive prep on Christmas Eve (after church), reading the Christmas story, wrapping presents for our four kids, the traditional Christmas breakfast and huge Christmas dinner. At the end of it all, I dissolved into relief, bone-tiredness and melancholy.
Last week I stepped into the checkout line alongside a lovely woman dressed sharply in her wool skirt and jacket. I urged her to go ahead of me. “I have to see if I have enough for these things,” she said as she spread her wallet open. “Oh, I have enough.” I’d said it without thought. I grabbed the items from her cart and put them on the conveyor belt. “I’ve got it.” The young cashier looked surprised when I nodded to add hers to mine. (Maybe this was for him, too.) If her cart had been super full, I probably wouldn’t have offered so quickly. It seemed so easy and no sacrifice at all.
We were fast friends as we walked out together. She was a delightful package—a gift to me. The fast moving hands telling her story, her giggle, the giddiness in sharing God’s goodness. She’d been shopping for homeless people. She and her friends prepare meals in styrofoam containers and drive downtown every Thursday looking out for hungry bellies. The people know she’s coming. My money helped! She bragged about the Lord; how He works circumstances to help her bless others. How the lady at Lowe’s discounted potted succulents for the women over 80-years-old in her Bible study group. She had the exact number of gifts for the women who showed up. She couldn’t wait to tell her friends how God helped her again. We paused as we headed to our cars as if neither of us wanted to part. I wish now I’d asked for her contact info. As she drove by my car she waved wildly out her window and thanked me again. She’s 87. She made my day; I hope she makes yours too.
If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next…Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in; aim at earth and you will get neither.C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
I know you have a lot to do, but remember the elements of the first Christmas. The animal dung that had to be shoveled to make a spot for Mary in the stable. The scraps of cloth arranged in a feeding trough to make a bed for newborn Jesus. The angel chorus that filled the sky. The excitement of the shepherds. The groans, pains and blood. The humble beginning of the new upside-down kingdom that would change our world forever. A King was born when God became a baby to live among us. The Best Gift earth would ever know.
Jesus, 33 years later, gave his life sacrificially so we’d be acquitted of our sin. He made a way for us to live eternally with Him.
He taught us to also lay our lives down for others.
If you try to hold on to your life, it will slip through your fingers; if you let go of your life you’ll keep it.Luke 17:33 The Voice
I’ve had Brandon Lake’s song, Son of Heaven, on repeat in my head. My favorite line is: Oh let Him in, oh let Him out.
If there was ever a time to let Him live His life through us, the time is now. The best gift I can give our King is myself. I’ll always be learning what that means.
Son Of Heaven
1)This is the word, here in the flesh
Living among the meek and lowly
The voice of God, His every breath
Salvation of the world unfolding
Behold Him, behold Him
Lift up your eyes, see the Son of Heaven
Pour out your praise, sing the name of Jesus
2)This is His heart, upon the cross
And from His wounds His mercies flowing
And now the dawn, put death to death
And ever since that grave’s been empty
3)This is His home, here in our chest
At every door our Savior’s Knocking
Oh let Him in, oh let Him out
With every yes His kingdom’s coming
The sound of every saint rejoicing
Oh, Jesus Christ the hope of Glory