Yep, Christmas happened two days ago. I thoroughly enjoyed (and also kind of stressed out) the last push to celebrate. Every year we try to do better at scheduling… and this year was okay, except that I kind of burned out Christmas Eve morning after taking care of a sick emotional little girl, trying to make too many cookies and attempting to make it to church for my favorite Christmas Eve service. Let’s just say we didn’t make it to church and took a nap instead. And then on Christmas Day we drove across the mountains, chasing the tail end of a snow storm, to visit my mountain family in Paonia (see pictures below).
I really do love Christmas. I love that it brings all sides of my family together to celebrate. I love that we spend time thinking about how to be generous to each other. And at the risk of sounding cliche, I really do wish I was better at showing love, grace, peace and generosity all throughout the year (and not just the Christmas season).
My last week of Advent devotionals were all about love.
“Why do we love? When we have a complete understanding of love, perfect love displayed for us in God’s gracious giving of His Son, the outpouring of love upon others is not only justified, but instinctive. We love because He first loved us.” – 121 Advent Devotional, YouVersion App
“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.” – 1 John 4:11-12 ESV
But the thought from my week of love-focused Advent devotions that really caught my heart was the idea that God’s love (and the love we are called to emulate) conquers over all earthly forces, including human emotion, which so often uses love to disguise pride and self-seeking.
Of course we read 1 Corinthians 13 at weddings, and in a lot of dating books, etc. And the Bible talks about love a lot.
“God’s love is self-giving and sacrificial. He gave Himself on our behalf (John 3:16). God’s love is unconditional, it is given to us when we do not deserve it (Romans 5:8). God’s love is eternal (Jeremiah 31:3). God’s love is powerful. God’s love heals and comforts but also serves as our defender, His love defeats the enemy on our behalf. God’s love is life changing (1 John 4:19). Nothing can separate us from God’s love.” – 121 Advent Devotional, YouVersion App
But how do I learn to love with God’s conquering love? My heart dwelt this week in the mystery and powerful force of the love of a God Who has committed and sustained faithfulness to our human race despite often complete rejection, abhorrences and cursing of the God of the Universe by said created people.
“I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.” – Jeremiah 31:3 ESV
His everlasting love came to fruition in the manger babe, and love ultimately won that first Easter morning. His challenge to me (and all of us) is to love this world with the same love, starkly different than the world’s love. I am commanded to love void of self-motivation, and above and beyond the fleeting emotions that flourish from my desire to be loved in return.
Honestly, I’m not sure how to love this way. I want to defend my heart, stick up for what will be the best for me and my family at all times. Hopefully I will learn more this year about God’s path of hope, peace, joy and love, and not just in a Christmas-card kind of way. May I be willing to see God’s heart for all people and situations, and to act out of the genuine paradigm of the Father. May I be led by the Holy Spirit, anchored by hope, sustained by joy, and guided by peace. And all of these things also for you.