While in church on Sunday, my newborn made some noise. I glanced down to see him beaming up at me — his first smile, so bright and joyfully communicated that it impressed upon me the need to dwell on all of the gifts or blessings I am apt to miss in a single day, during this season of Christmas busy-ness.
Later, as I nursed that evening, I thought of missed opportunities — when I fail to bridle the hearts of my children, or show my love for my husband, or serve others outside of my immediate family. How many moments of blessing or gratitude have I missed by simply not looking? Busy-ness lends itself to fast-paced thoughtlessness.
I battle this in my kitchen especially, wanting to do the work myself instead of slowing down to teach my children the skill of preparing food. Should I hustle through my chores, or slack the pace to enjoy them more thoroughly? How do I find a good and right balance between what needs to be done and what ought to be done?
By not finding this balance, do I miss many gifts from the Lord that are right before my eyes? I think the balance is struck when we focus on what is lasting.
During my senior year in high school, when I was a new Christian, I battled between two opposites of lifestyle and friendship: the old and the new. However, a quote from Jim Elliot (my chosen quote for the senior yearbook) brought me comfort then and even now: “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep in order to gain what he cannot lose.”
These words have stayed with me, and while I often forget them in the day-to-day, I am pressed to dwell on his words as a remedy for the fast pace of our lives. What can I give up that is not lasting?
I ask myself this and realize that I must give up myself. Yes, I do matter, and yes, my actions are important, but anything that I do for the sole sake of myself rather than the glory of God is not lasting.
What fruit will we bear in this new year? How will we give the great and lasting gift of ourselves for the kingdom of God? Let's slow down and stop to see the first smiles of our children. Cultivate our talents — those things we love doing — and serve others with them for the glory of God.
I love making traditionally-prepared food and experimenting with all of the good things God has given us to nourish our body. I need to slow down in the kitchen and realize that my work is much more than just putting healthy food on the table — it is teaching my children how to make this good food so that one day they can fill the tables of their own families with the bounty of this earth.
I need to see that although service in our community and church is limited by my season in life, I can serve those around me through food, hoping that their bodies and souls are blessed by nourishing broth soups or prepared grains
I need to give more, not necessarily in new ways, and not only during the Christmas or holiday seasons, but purposefully throughout the year.
This Christmas, as we reflect upon the greatest gift ever given, I pray we will also reflect on how we can mirror Christ in our lives. May our souls magnify God as we slow down, see the gifts before us, and seek to give gifts that will last.
What lasting gifts are you giving or receiving?
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