I have longed for a Simple Christmas, centered in the love of God. What I am learning, through the unexpected, through circumstances beyond my control, is that God is found in the places where my plans come to an end. Where my wants are frustrated, God desires to meet my needs. His ways are truly not my ways, and so the choice comes: let go of what I would wish for, and embrace the plans and purposes he has for me.
Often, this requires a change in what I tell myself. Tuning into truth, speaking words of choice and decision rather than settling into helplessness. I cannot choose my circumstances, but I can choose how I respond. I can replace grumbling with gratitude. I can nestle into him and let him fill the void within me, and I can seek his direction in bringing wellness into my interactions with others.
"Only the humble believe him and rejoice that God is so free and so marvelous that he does wonders where where people despair," wrote Dietrich Bonhoeffer, from the depths of a Nazi prison.
There are times when our ways, our wants and wishes become a prison, keeping us from the glory of God, keeping us from relationship with him, keeping us from knowing the wonders of his love. "The wonder of all wonders, that God loves the lowly...God is not ashamed of the lowliness of human beings. God marches right in. He chooses people as his instruments and performs his wonders where one would least expect them. God is near to lowliness; he loves the lost, the neglected, the unseemly,the excluded, the weak and the broken."
The liberating king came into the lowly harshness of a stable cave- to fill the cavern within our hearts. What separates us from the love of God? Only our own choice to keep him out.
Amidst the pain or busyness of a season, a voice cries out, Prepare the way of the Eternal One, a straight way in the wandering desert, a highway for our God. I wonder as I wander, is my heart prepared?
A man named John came before Immanuel, God With us, declaring the way: admitting I am deeply flawed, in need of help, and identifying with purification, initiated by agonizing sacrifice on a man-made cross. Sometimes we create our own crosses- and God would urge us to lay down our ways and turn to a lifestyle of seeking intimacy with Him.
I ponder, struck by the miracle of the limitless Divine dwelling within me, despite my many imperfections. The person of God, alive within me. Miraculous, yes. It is necessary to stop my flurrying and recognize the presence within me, making way for immersion in the presence of the Eternal.
John offered an outward symbol to represent hearts changed within, recognizing the forgiveness of God. The One who loves us best knows the needs of our hearts, sees the struggle, understands we need a way beyond our selves. The mystery of God is that the Lord of Glory became lowly, taking on human flesh. He did not wait for us to come to him, but rather loved us first, becoming like us, so we could become like him. The secret hidden wisdom is God himself, and his presence in our lives.
The world celebrates a babe born in a manger with songs and services, displays, and elaborate events. God created a way for us to connect instead with blessed simplicity, to linger in quieter moments, celebrating the love of God within a heart.
To be still and know. To ponder... To look with awe on the wonder of an infinite God dwelling within the confines of tender human flesh.
And then, as I am still before the Anointed One, my savior, then I will have my I have my Simple Christmas, awash in the Spirit of God.