Thursday, 8 December 2011

The Awe of Peace

It’s is less than three weeks, 17 days to be exact, until December 25th.
Again, I say “Aaaaahhhhh”.
Some of you may notice the “rrrr” and the “gggg” are missing from my “Aaahhh”. 
This is not a typo. 
I admit, however, that there has always been, at this time of year, many “rrrr”s and “gggg”s in my sigh - or should I say grumble - but this year is different.   My grumble of stress and frustration has been transformed to a sigh of contentment, and peace.
A while back I committed to intentionally change how I walk through the Christmas season.  I decided to turn Christmas upside-down.  You know, God’s way, the way of the Kingdom.  It’s upside-down compared to this world and the way it thinks.  I wanted Christmas to be real.  To be what it is.  About Christ.  For this reality to abide in my heart and not be lost during the time of year when it should be most appreciated:
“...Christ Jesus who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking on the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death....”
Christmas is: The Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us. Creator of the universe, omniscient, infinite God, becoming a helpless, completely dependent, finite babe in a manger.  The gift of love wrapped in humility.  Why?  “...because he will save people from their sins.” 
Love.  Humility.  I want to just rest here.  These words, they have a quiet, gentle, peaceful reality to them.  I’ve missed that in too many Christmas’ gone by.  In our busy days it is easy to lose the quietness, gentleness, and peacefulness - these fruits that seem to permeate love and humility, a treasure as graspable as the morning mist.
Love and humility - they are inseparable.  Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.  His greatest command?  Love each other”.  When you’re loving someone else, humility just happens.
When I started, I didn’t know how it was all going to come together, or what, exactly I was going to do to make this transformation.  But I did commit to reduce my spending on ‘stuff’ for Christmas and to give that savings away.  I also committed it to my Lord in prayer.
And He has made this transformation.  He has given me this rest, and I didn’t even see it happening, but I know that it has, because of this peace. 
He has made all the difference.  But these are some of the ways through which this change has come, which by the grace of God and He alone, has transformed stressful holiday “aagggrrrrhhhh” to peaceful Christmas awe:
  • Change focus:  For the first time ever, my kids and I sit down each day in this Advent season and we unwrap more of His love, and sprinkle some of this love around us each day.  How can your focus not change when you’re reading and learning more of God Almighty, and His promises of a Saviour all through the Old Testament?  He is faithful to His promises, and by grace He teaches us each day a little more, and He sets our eyes on Him, whose throne is in heaven.  And when that happens, our eyes are not focused on what has to be done, or what has to be bought and will they really like, or do they really need it, and where on earth is all the money going to come from anyway?
  • Giving gifts that give:  I have for the first time learned of gifts that I can give to those I love, and in the buying of these gifts I am giving to someone in need.  (Yes, I have had my head in the sand for the last .....well we won’t go there, but a long time)  These posters are a great example (also see the Family Rules badge at the top of my page).  As a gift, you are giving the Word of God, a great wall print and biblical family values.  But, you are also helping to build a home for abandoned and imprisoned children, a home built on Christ, because all (100%) of the funds to purchase this picture go to Sixty Feet.  And you’re giving even more, because during this Christmas season, all funds raised for this building project will be matched.  And the Lord multiplies.  There are many options out there for these giving-gifts.  Many Christian relief and/or orphan care organizations have stores on their website which offer products whose proceeds are going to support that organization.
  • Cut back and give it away:  In just two trips to the city I have completed 90% of my Christmas shopping.  Armed with a pre-planned list of who is getting what has reduced browsing, which in direct relation has reduced spending.  That is unheard of in my past - 90% of my Christmas shopping is typically a result of browsing.  And it is costly.  But this year I have saved money.  And I am giving it away.  There are SO many ways to give. It. Away.  Jesus just asks us to give it, in love and in His name - to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, care for the sick and the prisoner, defend the cause of the fatherless – down the street or across the world.  Obedience to this is amazing grace, peace and joy.
  • Here are some ideas for how you can give it away, in case you want to join me in this upside down Christmas journey – it’s not too late!
    • Sponsor a child in a variety of Christian organizations all over the world
    • feed the hungry by donating to your local food bank or by brining a Christmas basket of food to someone down the street
    • Why not help a family bring an orphan home - one less orphan in the world,
    • support the teaching of literacy to women in Asia so they can read their Bibles, or buy a sewing machine for a woman in India trying to break out of her hopeless poverty. 
How can you turn Christmas upside down this year?
Be Upside-down this Christmas
Spend 10% less this Christmas and give it away
Make an eternal difference this Christmas
Watch what the Lord does with it


At 8 December 2011 at 10:11 , Blogger Emily said...

Your idea of helping a family bring an orphan home really struck me. Maybe because I'd like to do that one day but we are so intimidated by the cost...among other things. Our family is trying to "do Christmas" differently too and I have been seeing a lot of cool ideas on a lot of blogs, but this is the first time this suggestion has popped up. Something to consider...thank you.

At 8 December 2011 at 15:25 , Blogger Stephanie said...

Hi Emily,I encourage you to go here ( and follow this story of adoption. This is one of hundreds out there, but in it you will see, the Lord will provide when it is His will. And He will show up most amazingly. I stand in awe at this story. May the Lord bless you as you find ways to turn your Christmas Upside-down.


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