the gaps of Christmas

What a beautiful Christmas we are enjoying today! In addition to all of the generous gifts lavished upon us by family, there is the gift of these moments of quiet reflection (thanks to one napping girl and the other out on a Christmas walk with Daddy). And if you’re like me, despite how perfect any Christmas is from year to year, there are always reminders of the “gaps.” You know, the ways that Christmas never quite meets up to our expectations of it. The way my sentimental definition of “Christmas” misses the mark of “real” Christmas. The way I myself get off track from what IS the heart of Christmas, or rather WHO is the heart of Christmas: God as a baby in a humble manger. 

Praise be to God that he always takes the initiative to bridge these gaps. That Christmas itself is the most brilliant, bold reminder of this. We have a God who bridged the gap that I caused – that I was blind to – that I made no efforts to resolve. Out of love, he came. Knowing the rejection awaiting, the vulnerability that he (God!) would be clothed in – the humble circumstances and the eventual surrender of the best connection he’d ever had: to God his Father. He gave that up willingly for me. For Love.

To bridge the gaps in my heart that so many feel this Christmas. Like parents or siblings or children who have died, of spouses deployed, of wounds reignited by holiday gatherings, by the gap between expectations and the reality in which we live. Christmas on this earth, no matter how postcard (or Instagram, or Facebook) perfect, will always leave us longing. Longing to be with the one who came for us. Longing to follow the Christ-child into places of deeper humility and service in his name. Longing to see redemption in the gaps of our broken world caused by sin – which are even now being healed but will be so completely one day.

Redemption came in the Sunrise from on high, the one whose Elijah prepared the way by causing “those who are rebellious to accept the wisdom of the godly” (Luke 1:17). And I am the rebel who doesn’t want wisdom. Christ gently and boldly leads me to it again and again. It starts in a manger, culminates in the cross, is proved victorious and supreme by the resurrection. Let me accept true Christmas/gospel wisdom today. To lift my eyes above the gaps I see to the One who came for me. Whose love never stops. Who even now is showering me with grace more abundant than the gifts beneath our tree. And in beholding this Love, let me love.

A quote from my favorite Advent devotional this year by Ann Voskamp:

In the thin air of Advent, you may not even know how to say it out loud: “I thought it would be easier.” And your God comes near: “I will provide the way.” You may not even know who to tell: “I thought it would be different.” And your God draws closer: “I will provide grace for the gaps.” You may not even know how to find words for it: “I thought it would be … more.” And your God reaches out: “I will provide Me.”

God gives God. That is the gift God always ultimately gives. Because nothing is greater and we have no greater need, God gives God.

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