I’ve learned that not all gifts come wrapped in pretty packages, but sometimes those can be the best gifts of all. Along with all the flourishes of Christmas preparation and celebration can come a sense that something or someone is missing; things are not as they should be or as they used to be; and a feeling that there’s a hole in our lives that is crying out to be filled. Although it would never have made our list of things we want for Christmas, longing (in itself) may be one of God’s most precious gifts, because it can be the thing that drives us to Him.
Early in our marriage, although it would have seemed that life was good – our marriage was good, our first born was a healthy, happy baby – I can remember having a sense that something was askew; there was a longing for something more. My college years had brought with it a drift in my relationship with Jesus; as the distractions of life on campus took over I actually spent those years trying to run from God. Fortunately for me, God will not be ignored, in fact, He pursued me.
In my discontent, I decided that what our little family needed was a church home. I checked out the Yellow Pages and selected one nearby. That first Sunday, my son and I were warmly welcomed. It felt good to be in a church that morning, and somehow I knew we were home. My husband also soon came to the conclusion that we needed a church and the day came to officially join. It was then that I heard God’s Spirit whisper, “Joining the church is all well and good, but I’m not just calling you to church membership; I’m calling you to a relationship.”
C.S. Lewis wrote: “It would seem our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We’re half-hearted creatures … (we are) like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum, because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
I am in awe of the God who wants more for me than I want for myself, who stirs up within me disenchantment with the stuff I thought I wanted/needed and invites me to reach higher, to know His “inexpressible gift” – the gift of His Son. This Christmas season I say, “Thank you, Jesus, for coming to us with all the gifts You promised and the ones we so desperately need: forgiveness, healing, restoration, comfort, real joy, beauty for ashes, peace, and life to the fullest.” (Isaiah 61; John 10)