After work, I had the evening off, and instead of wasting it in front of the TV--the activity that I usually get sucked into, I decided to read a book. I discovered "God Came Near" by Max Lucado. It's one of my top favorite books. I received it for Christmas one year because my mom got it free from Family Christian Store and decided to stick it in my stocking. It was this book that I read two months before my mom was diagnosed with cancer. It was this book that prepared my heart for the stunning news. I read about the blessing of eternal instances--an instant that has no time. "A moment that reminds you of the treasures surrounding you. Your home. Your peace of mind. Your health. A moment that tenderly rebukes you for spending so much time on temporal preoccupations such as savings accounts, houses, and punctuality. A moment that can bring mist to the manliest of eyes and perspective to the darkest life. You've had them. We all have. Sharing a porch swing on a summer evening with your granchild. Seeing her face in the glow of a candle. Putting your arm in your husband's as you stroll through the golden leaves and breathe the brisk autumn air. Listening to your six-year-old thank God for everything from goldfish to Grandma. Such moments are necessary because they remind us that everything is okay. The King is still on the throne and life is still worth living. Eternal instants remind us that love is still the greatest possession and the future is nothing to fear. " These words taught me to really see my blessings--see the eternal instants in my life. To view the presence of my mother as a constant eternal instant and be thankful.
It was this book that changed the way I thought about the reality of Jesus' birth as I read of the busyness of those in Bethlehem who didn't stop to noticed that Christ came to earth as a baby the night before because they weren't looking, and I wondered to myself if I would have noticed if I was there. If my life were as it is now, I would have missed it by a mile. I wrote a couple other posts that share from the book's perspecive of the birth if you're interested.
It was this book that awed me of the humanity of Jesus. "It all happened in a moment, a most remarkable moment. The omnipotent, in one instant, made himself breakable. He who had been spirit became pierceable. He who was larger than the the universe became an embryo. And he who sustains the world with a word chose to be dependent upon the nourishment of a young girl. God as a fetus. Holiness sleeping in a womb. The creator of life being created. God was given eyebrows, elbows, two kidneys, and a spleen. He stretched against the walls and floated in the amniotic fluids of his mother."
It was this book that spoke of hope in a way that felt so real to me. "Words painted gray with disappointment. What we wanted didn't come. What came, we didn't want. The result? Shattered hope. The foundation of our world trembles. So tear-filled are our eyes and so limited is our perspective that God could be the fellow walking next to us and we wouldn't know it. You see, the problem with the two heavy-hearted men on the road to Emmaus was not a lack of faith, but a lack of vision. We are not much different than burdened travelers, are we? We roll in the mud of self-pity in the very shadow of the cross. We piously ask for his will and then have the audacity to pout if everything doesn't go our way. If we would just remember the heavenly body that awaits us, we'd stop complaining that he hasn't healed this earthly one. Our problem is not so much that God doesn't give us what we hope for as it is that we don't know the right thing with which to hope. Hope is not what you expect; it is what you would never dream. It is a wild, improbable tale with a pinch-me-I'm-dreaming ending. It's Abraham adjusting his bifocals so he can see not his grandson, but his son. It's Moses standing in the promised land not with Aaron or Miriam at his side, but with Elijah and the transfigured Christ. It's Zechariah left speechless at the sight of his wife Elizabeth, gray-headed and pregnant. And it is the two Emmaus-bound pilgrims reaching out to take a piece of bread only to see that the hands from which it is offered are pierced. Hope is not a granted wish or a favor performed; no, it is far greater than that. It is a zany, unpredictable dependence on a God who loves to surprise us out of our socks and be there in the flesh to see our reaction."
That's what I learned from this book. I could recite probably three more chapters that spoke to me when I read it tonight, but I won't. You'll have to read it yourself if you want to find out! I'm just sitting here feeling very thankful that God put a little shine on that book so that I could see it sitting on my bookshelf and be motivated to read it. I love Christmas. I love looking at Jesus' story in new, unpredictable ways. I also love when God speaks to my heart and reminds me that I'm not missing out on life. I may have lost my way a little. I may be wondering what the heck is going on. I may be jealous of those that feel they know what God's calling on there life is because I have no clue what his calling on mine is. But, one thing I do know, is that God hasn't left me. He has a load of surprises that he's just waiting to throw my way and watch me grow and depend on him through it all. That chapter about hope is dealing with something I still feel I haven't quite grasped. I think I'll need to come back and read it over again a few more times throughout this week. But I will, and hopefully I'll come away with a heart full of hope this Christmas season. That's my Christmas wish.