Something is comforting, not in the calories, but in the companionship, food can provide.
When life is good, we celebrate with ice cream, and when life is bad, we cope with brownies.
Any day can feel familiar and lovely when coupled with the coziness of Grandma’s recipes or the warmth of your favorite meal with your favorite people.
Although for all the goodness offered to us through food, it can also become something it was never intended to be, a friend.
Three years ago, it was a brand new year. A lot like today.
Flipping the calendar to a new year made life feel so much more wide-open than it had just a few weeks prior.
Dreams and options received new breath. Ideas that had felt impractical and unachievable now had a place at the table of “maybe we could.”
So I began to dream about all that we could do that year. All sorts of possibilities came to mind, but with it came the overwhelming question of where to begin on it all.
For many of us, becoming a Christian and joining a church is a lot like getting invited to a country club.
We sign up on a little card, are handed instant “community” within the group and are even given a calendar full of all the ways to become involved.
We receive a place at the table of doing, serving and attending. We meet up for regular gatherings that make us feel good, feel loved and feel accepted.
Yet, despite the all-inclusive aspects of this new life, something is missing. Something is lacking.
After years of attending, doing and serving, we find that we don’t know Jesus more intimately than we did that first day we prayed and asked Him into our lives.
Christmas, birthdays, and just because of visits from your favorite people. Gifts are such a sweet way to receive love from others, and if you are a gift-giver, you know the joy that comes from finding the perfect gift for someone.
However, with all that we receive, we can quickly have more stuff than our homes can hold.
Add in kiddos, and by the time preschool hits, you often have more clothes, more kids’ meals toys, and more battery-operated gadgets than you have want.
After seasons of getting more and more, “more” becomes the expectation and “enough” never arrives, for us and the ones in our home.
How, then, can we welcome the gifts and generosity of others while keeping the “more” monster from taking up residence in our hearts and home?
By creating space.
By creating need.
By creating opportunity for generosity and gratitude.
You see her.
In your Instagram feed. Writing another book. Up on a stage. Traveling the globe and doing work that seems to be changing the world.
Meanwhile, you are stuck paying bills and budgeting. Carpooling and folding laundry. Hustling but not getting anywhere fast.
Your life feels far from extraordinary. Yours lacks influence, and your work seems unimportant in comparison to what she, and others like her, are doing.
People all around you seem to have megaphones and microphones, and you are simply standing among the masses: a speck in a sea of insignificance.
You’ve heard the saying that it is better to give than to receive, but today I want to challenge you that the opposite may actually be true.
Not because the saying isn’t biblical (it is) but rather to reveal if your “gift of giving” may hinder your ability to receive.
Our culture loves to pride itself on how capable we are, how much we give to others and how good we can be. But, if we take in account Scripture and especially the teachings of Jesus, then we are faced with the reality that it may not about what we give, but instead what we receive.
When you’re walking down the street in a group, and you pass by a blind beggar, what do you do? If it’s me, I avert my eyes and keep walking.
But what if that beggar knew your name and, as you passed by, he kept shouting your name louder and louder. Would you stop then?
Honestly, I have no idea what I would do, but three of the four Gospels in the Bible tell us what Jesus did.
In (Matthew 20, Mark 10 and Luke 18), Jesus is just outside of Jericho and as a crowd follows him and passes by a blind beggar named Bartimaeus, the man asks what is going. When Bartimaeus hears that Jesus is near, he begins to call out, trying to get Jesus’ attention.
People tried to shush the beggar, telling him to stop and be quiet. But Bartimaeus would not stop. He knew that he might never get this moment again, so he called out louder and louder until he found himself shouting the name of Jesus.
‘Tis the season for wish lists and gift giving. And all around the interwebs, you can find ways to fill both needs.
However, even throughout the year, each of us has an additional wish list that we aren’t necessarily sharing with others; almost an unspoken wish list, if you will.
Things that even money can’t buy. Heart level things.
Like the mending of a hurtful relationship with your mother or father. Or the opportunity to finally quit your job and pursue something you love. Or the relentless longing for a child to fill your heart and home.
We may gather round dinner tables or smile across the church aisle over the next few weeks as if all is merry and bright, but deep down, many of us are wishing for something far more grand than a beautifully wrapped present under a tree.
One more hour. One more day. One more month. One more year.
At some point in our lives, each of us has had to wait.
Waiting. Waiting. Always waiting.
For the wonderful news of a healthy baby girl. Or for the devastating news that cancer has returned. For the word on the job found or a job lost.
Waiting is a universal part of the human experience, and I believe that God allows seasons of waiting to grow, to slow us. To invite us to wade into the deeper, hidden parts of our hearts, beyond the right here, right now, me first perspective. That we may rightly see our sin-filled hearts, recognize our great need for a Savior, and be offered the eternal hope and comfort that comes only through the cross of Jesus Christ.
The beautifully wrapped packages, the gorgeously decorated tree, the perfectly prepared meal. This time of year we all begin to make our dream lists about creating the warmest of holiday celebrations for our families.
While the details of our visions may vary, our hopes are similar. We want those who fill our homes over the holidays to feel loved, welcomed, and celebrated, with nothing missing from the picture perfect vision in our heads.
And so we hustle to the stores, bustle around the kitchen, and keep our hands busy prepping and planning so that the holidays can be all they were meant to be.
But, friends, have you ever felt harried by the holiday hustle? Does the stress of meal planning, house tidying, gift buying, and guest hosting wear you thin rather than fill you up?
If so, then I am here to tell you that you are not the only one.