The Greatest Gift

Six years ago I was given Ann VosKamp’s “The Greatest Gift” Christmas Advent devotional. It stayed on a shelf for an entire year. I’d done Advent for years and years. I wasn’t too keen on another book to read in the midst of such a busy season.

Five years ago I opened her book and thought I’d start with a few days. Why not try out something different? It has been a rough year.

2015

I was stalled at work, facing stress and angst over decisions about my career. We were neck deep in some major emotional issues for one of our children. By the time December 2015 hit, I was weary. I was worn out and I needed a lifeline.

Day 2 hit me like a ton of bricks.

So God created human beings in his own image. Genesis 1:27

My notes written in the book said this, “I am an image bearer of the God of this Universe.”

Let that sink in for just a minute. The God of the universe, the God who literally suspends the earth over nothing (Job 26:7), that God made me. That God made each of us.

I had spent so much time tearing myself down. I wasn’t a good enough mom. I was a pushover at work. I was too much. I was not enough.

Yet here I was reading, with fresh eyes, that I was made with God’s best attributes. He made me with all the things he loves about himself. I literally reflect his image. The God who makes the gigantic mountains that I’m in awe of, the one who created the most fragrant smells from roses to Jackfruit; yes, the God who made all this made me.

A shift happened that morning. I started to look in the mirror and saw a pretty amazing person. I saw my talents as gifts from an amazing creator. I looked at my children differently. Instead of irritation with all they did to make more work in my life, I began to see their creative messes as expressions of God imaging in their beings.

This Advent marks year 5 of doing this Advent series. I’ve written notes each year in this Advent book. This year I’ve had to add pages to almost each entry.

Despite reading the same words each year, they jump fresh off the page to me and my heart.

My internal clock is up each morning around 5 am. I head downstairs and start reading and reflecting. By keeping notes each year, I see prayers answered. I also see the same prayers, each year, still asking for God to show up.

Letting these words steep over me each Christmas has been truly one of the GREATEST GIFTS I could have. Centering my heart in the early dark hours around truth has given me energy and motivation to carry on.

This year has been long. We have felt the weight of waiting. As Wendell Berry says, “It gets darker and darker, and then Jesus is born.”

Perhaps you are where I was five years ago, so tired and weary. I’d encourage you to do one thing today different than you did last year. Make a new music playlist with favorite childhood songs. Start a morning meditation. Maybe take a morning walk, listening to Lectio Divina each morning on a quiet contemplative walk. Trade out your glass of wine for a cup of tea. Go to bed 10 minutes earlier, winding down from the day with a book or quiet songs.

Do all these things because you are worthy of all good. You are the IMAGE BEARER of the God of the universe.

“You are made of the dust of this earth, and you are made of the happiness of heaven, and you are flesh and you are spirit, and you are of two worlds longing for the home of forever and Him.” Ann Voskamp, The Greatest Gift

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