At the risk of sounding a bit crazy I will share a bit of my inner dialogue as I wrote this fourth Advent Musing:
As ideas swirled around in my head, they were having a difficult time finding form or rhythm. The doubts began to stir and the symphony of accusers sang their song: “No one will notice if you don’t write a fourth one, you should give up.” “What makes you think you have anything else to say.” “There’s nothing unique you have to offer.”
I thanked them for their caution and gently reminded them that I am not bound to need for a spotlight or praise for saying something new. The power in a choir is in the number of voices that join the song not in the uniqueness of each voice or the spotlight they step into.
As I quieted the doubts I was able to hear Jesus’ gentle voice once again, “Tell them again how near I am and how much I love them. That’s all I want them to know. Tell them again, and never stop telling them.”
This is my simple attempt at heeding the words of Jesus and telling you again of our nearest and kindest Savior. Our heart’s home became a man, that we might come face to face with our deep brokenness and His complete redemption.
It was a Saturday afternoon, this time last year, when I got punched in the gut with the Christmas Story. Of course, I was reading it for the ten millionth time, but I was reading the Jesus Storybook Bible which, those of you who’ve read it know, is a special kind of God-breathed.
In the account of Gabriel coming to Mary, he assures her: “You don’t have to be afraid! God is very happy with you.” Fresh tears of gladness sprang to my eyes and I immediately dashed into the next room to read this page out loud to my housemate, Julia. My voice cracked as I said out loud, “God is very HAPPY with you,” and I sank to the ground. I wanted to believe this more than anything. I NEEDED to believe this more than anything. Since that lazy Saturday in late 2017, this simple phrase has changed my life, and still gives me shocked and thankful goosebumps every time I read it.
When given a calling that would be most exciting but also most challenging God knew that more than anything else Mary would need to know that He was pleased with her. He who created the human soul, knew more than anyone that Unconditional Safety and Delight is what sets our hearts on fire and gives us courage. He knew this revelation would strengthen her and bring deep joy and courage to her heart. He knew that to feel the warm smile of God was what her soul had been created for.
So He instructed Gabriel to invite Mary to a deeper belief in His goodness: “Is anything too wonderful for the Lord?” Mary’s theology would have been rich. She was a devout young girl who certainly knew the scriptures. Her heart was drawn in faith to Gabriel’s strange pronouncement because she knew the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob who would “gently and carefully lead those nursing their young” (Isaiah 40:11). What she needed to be reminded of was how God was posturing Himself toward her in this calling. He was so happy with her. His heart shown with delight at the thought of her. With the simple pronouncement that she had found favor with God, hope grew. Hope in the most incredible wonderful unexpected turn of events, and Mary broke into song of praise to her Redeemer.
Who is your Gabriel? Who has God sent to speak to you of your belovedness? Are you listening?
“Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth“
His loving presence is our souls deepest need. In the light of His love, our souls feel the worth we are so often looking for in a million other places. May your soul feel its worth this Christmas in a fresh way. He appeared then, and He’s still appearing now to the soul that knows He is here, and He is very happy with you.
1 Kings 19:12, “And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.” (KJV)
Quiet our hearts, Lord, that we might hear You when you speak and
know You are near.