Christmas is days away and I am so excited about sharing this special day with my husband and family.
The year started as the previous. A time of anticipation, yet each day filled with the comfortable routine of the past. Until a burning pain in my chest turned my normal into a test of trust.
I had felt the pain before and knew I needed to get to the hospital. Physicians quickly realized the stent placed to repair a blockage in my heart had failed. Surgery was required.
I kissed my husband, climbed onto the gurney, and was whisked away to the surgical suite.
Several hours later, I woke to the chirping and pinging of machines. One was breathing for me, others were monitoring my progress. Tubes and wires ran in and out of my body and I oscillated between feeling like I was submerged in an ice bath to roasting in an oven.
My heart was healthy and strong and the blockage repaired.
Life. Is. A. Gift!
Just three short days following surgery, I was discharged. I cradled a heart-shaped pillow to protect my incision, a task especially difficult when my husband would make me laugh. I also embraced a changed perspective.
Before the heart-burn, I was self-reliant, often pushing beyond my physical limitations, and dig-your-heels-in determined—both characteristics that can be positive unless pushed to the extremes. I pushed them beyond the boundaries.
Following the surgery, I was forced to sit patiently and allow my body and mind to heal. I watched as my husband decorated the tree and others helped wrap packages and decorate the house. It is funny how priorities shift, perspective shifts (really everything shifts) when faced with your mortality.
Christmas is a time of giving, including giving gifts that reflect your feelings for the recipients. We spend hours scanning the internet and strolling the malls to find that perfect present.
God gave me a gift that demonstrated His amazing love for me. He used the hands of a skilled surgeon to heal a heart hardened by pride, blocked by the consequences of living in an imperfect world, and broken from my poor choices.
God gave me new life.
I am grateful.
We are thankful.
I am forever changed.
New Life that Brought Hope and Transformation
Some two thousand years ago, a baby boy was born in a humble stable. Wrapped in cloth and placed in a manger—the Savior of the world.
His parents hovered close; they had encountered the angels and listened intently when told about His purpose. What a life-altering gift that first Christmas.
I doubt anyone witnessing this infant fully grasped the enormity of the event. Jesus, God’s Son, took on human form to offer a broken world new life.
(4) “But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, (5) to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.”
(6) “Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’ (7) So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.” Galatians 4:4-7, NIV
During this season, I am drawn to the manger scene. Baby Jesus, shepherds, and that bright shining star. But long before the wise men offered their precious presents, before a timely trip to Bethlehem, before Mary and Joseph, God gave us His first gift. The gift of life.
(26) “Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and overall the creatures that move along the ground.’”
(27) “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”
(28) “God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.'” Genesis 1:26-28
The Gift that Keeps On Giving
God gave each of us an amazing gift—the opportunity of new life. He chose us to occupy space and time with Him. He offered us intimacy, a relationship, a garden filled with His created beauty, communion with our Creator. And then He offered us purpose—multiply, fill the earth, and rule over it.
Genesis 2:7 shares, “Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”
Can you imagine the scene? God kneeling on the ground. He scoops dirt from the earth and forms a man. He then bends close and breathes life into his lungs. A creation of love—the first human. The origin of our lives.
(21) “…God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh.”
(22) “Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.” Genesis 2:21-22
God fashioned you and me (women) out of the man he formed, a single rib—our life.
Please don’t lose sight, with the busyness of the Christmas season, the gift-giving, the parties, the expectations, and inevitable disappointments—that thousands of years ago, God gave us the most amazing gift: the gift of new life, born in His image and bearing His likeness, and ultimately transformed. No longer enslaved by sin, controlled by our fears, confined to the world’s definitions, or imprisoned by unattainable expectations. Our faith and trust in Jesus bring newness. He repairs our broken hearts and sets us free.
Check back next Sunday for Part 2 of “What God Wants to Give Us for Christmas.”
If you’re struggling to picture the fullness of God, who gave us the gift of new life, then you’ll love this podcast episode: Who Is God Really? with Christian Bevere – 169