Tis the season for lights and cookies and trees and Santa! Last week we drove our kids down to a fancy upscale outdoor mall to see the schmancy Santa. He was okay. The tree was gorgeous but the mall photographer had clearly not completed her elf training.
A couple days later we went to our friend's pet store Christmas party. This Santa was a gentle, sweet man. Perfect!
(Side note, you should absolutely shop here is you have pets...they are fantastic.
I even got my photo in with this guy. I like Santa. I love the jolly cheer. I like to tell my girls about the first Santa, St. Nicholas and how much he loved Jesus. No Jesus, no Santa.
The next day we went on an adventure down reindeer avenue. It was fun, but a story for another day. However, there was another Santa! This one has been watching his carbs and working out because he was skiiiiiny.
The next day I had the following conversation with my youngest.
4 yr old: Mom. There are three Santas. Two are the same. One was different.
4 yr old: I'm keeping my eye on him.
Smart girl, little cynical but smart. I'm glad she's watching and careful with her heart. After I quit laughing we had a chat about how Santa probably has lots of helpers and how Santa is for fun.
I do want to warn her about Santa theology. You know....where people mix up Santa with Jesus? Think through this.
Santa keeps a naughty and nice list, Jesus sacrificed himself to make relationships possible for everyone. Santa gives you what you ask for, Jesus gives what is best. Santa is fun, Jesus is forever.
My daughter is keeping her eye on Santa. She is watching to see if he disappoints. As she grows up, I'm praying she'll turn those eyes to the real giver of gifts. For He has His eyes on her.
“You cannot fail – the only thing I’ve found is through it all, You never let me down. You don’t hold back – relentless in pursuit – at every turn, I come face to face with You. Like a tidal wave crashing over me, rushing in to meet me here, Your Love is fierce. Like a hurricane that I can’t escape, tearing through the atmosphere – Your Love is fierce.” Fierce, Jesus Culture
A fierce love – the kind of love every girl dreams of, right?
Have you ever watched “Letters to Juliet”? It’s all about love that lasts – love that never fails, even after 50 years of thinking that love is gone. “I don’t know what a love like Juliet’s feels like: love to leave loved ones for, love to cross oceans for, but I’d like to believe if I ever were to feel it, that I’d have the courage to seize it.”
As beautiful, and true to our hearts’ desire, as those words are, they have one problem – they are developed out of a mind that is ignorant to the truth. Because, guess what? We have access to a love to leave loved ones for. We have access to a love to cross oceans for. But are we courageous enough to seize it?
Every time I watch this movie, my heart always aches at those lines. I always think, “Man. That’d be so awesome to have someone who loves me that deeply that he would pursue me by leaving those he loves and crossing oceans for me.”
Even now, as I write those words, I realize how ignorant MY mind has been up until this point.
I’ve always been infatuated with love. The idea of love. The idea of complete and total self sacrifice – the idea of denying oneself and one’s desires in order to serve others and make them feel like they matter. The idea of letting go of everything that holds us back and loving with no regrets – and with no filter.
You know when you make coffee, you have to use a filter to make sure that all you get is the flavor of the coffee and not the actual coffee itself? No one wants to go through the gross process of chewing through coffee grounds…just like no one wants to go through the awkward, tough process of true, unfiltered, pure love. Too many people just like the flavor of love and not the nitty gritty of it. Too many people say, “Man – that love looks good. I think I’ll have some of that with some French Vanilla creamer so that way it’s not too strong, but just sweet enough to get me through the day. I don’t want to commit to coffee with no creamer – that’s just too strong.” (Quite frankly, I don’t either, but that’s not the point…)
Something I’ve realized lately is that I’ve been filtering my own love. I’ve been watering it down with too much creamer just to make it sweet enough…
And I’m sick of it.
It’s time for us to start loving with a love to leave loved ones for, a love to cross oceans for.
Think about it. Jesus left His earthly family, whom He loved deeply and who loved Him in return, to minister to people who HATED Him with a burning passion. He left His Heavenly Father to love the sinners on earth. He walked on water (crossed an “ocean”) to show how much He loved his disciples and desired their trust in Him, because in order to experience the fullness of love, we must trust completely.
I went through a couple situations recently that proved to me what real love is – what God’s Love is. I’ve been dealing with a severe loneliness that I wasn’t quite sure how to combat. I’ve never felt anything quite like it – just this deep, empty, hollow loneliness that would sometimes leave me breathless or even completely immobile. I’ve begged and pleaded with God to bring someone into my life who could fill that gap of loneliness. No matter how hard I looked, no matter how many friendships I explored, I never found what I was looking for.
Then God smacked me upside the head.
I’ve never seen God as more than just my Lord and my Heavenly Father, but recently I have been learning to see Him as my best friend. The kind of best friend that never leaves your side; the kind that you argue with even though you know they’re right; the kind that you have inside jokes and memories with; the kind that is always there for you no matter how stupid you are. Yeah, God IS that friend!
Ladies, (and gents, cause I know you guys need this too, whether you like it or not), we have access to a Love that is relentless. We have access to a Love that never ceases. We have access to a Love that never leaves us. We have access to unfailing, ever present, complete, pure, unfiltered, uncensored, deep-down-nitty-gritty Love.
It’s a terrifying Love – and I have the courage to seize it.
“If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy, but don’t have love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all His mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. If I give all I own to the poor and even go to the stakes to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 The Message
I love Jesus. I think my two daughters can change the world. I think you can too.
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