Each year during the Advent season, I dig out one of my favorite devotional books “Advent and Christmas – Wisdom from Henry Nouwen”. And when I read Day 1 it always gives me just the reminder I need. Let me share with you…
I keep expecting loud and impressive events to convince me and others of God’s saving power… Our temptation is to be distracted by them… When I have no eyes for the small signs of God’s presence – the smile of a baby, the carefree play of children, the words of encouragement and gestures of love offered by friends – I will always remain tempted to despair.
The small child of Bethlehem, the unknown man of Nazareth, the rejected preacher, the naked man on the cross, HE asks for my full attention. The work of our salvation takes place in the midst of a world that continues to shout, scream, and overwhelm us with its claims and promises.
Especially during the Christmas season when I feel overwhelmed by my “to do” list, I can start feeling really sorry for myself. Not only are the TV commercials or shopping malls shouting at me, but my mind also starts screaming, “If I weren’t paralyzed, I could wrap these presents myself!” Or “If I could drive a car, I could quickly run out to pick up pretty holiday plates for our Christmas Eve party.” My pity party can be in full swing – way before the Christmas party!
But I love how Nouwen’s devotional starts me out on the right foot. Let’s remember the real gifts – the sun that comes up every morning without fail, the roof over our head, the warm water coming out of the faucet. But most importantly, the tremendous gift is Jesus who came on earth to point us to our Heavenly Father who loves us so much that he wants us to spend eternity with him. Wow. Wow.
So does it really matter if I don’t have pretty holiday plates?