As Christmas rolls around, Sara and I look back over the past year with profound gratitude at all that the Lord has let us be a part of this year. The most precious of all is, of course, the people we’ve met and good friends who have walked alongside us. We have been enriched in so many ways by the love and care of people, as well as the opportunity to be with people at some of the the most difficult moments of their lives.
As this journey has unfolded we find ourselves increasingly grateful for the simple joys of friends and family and the moments of deep conversation and uncontrollable laughter. At the same time we are also aware that there is much pain in the world. My inbox is filled with it every day as people face some of the most brutal circumstances life can dish out. But even there I am blessed by the courage people demonstrate in simply putting one foot in front of the other each day and work their way through the circumstance as God’s glory unfolds in them. Pained letters often turn into joy-filled ones in a few months time. God works incredible good out of our most desperate moments.
That’s the story of the Incarnation that touches me the most. God shows up in our worst moment, in our pain and despair, to let us know that we are loved and that he has a way for us to live beyond our humanistic ways of dealing with life. As we embrace him in that hope our perspective changes about everything around us. We see the world differently and live differently than what the world glorifies around us.
I read this last week and it lifted my heart, so I thought I’d share it with you. We often go looking for life in all the wrong places, and miss the very opportunities right in front of us to be where God is—loving the most marginalized among us.
Again and again, what it amounts to is a clash between two opposing goals: One goal is to seek the person of high position, the great person, the spiritual person, the clever person, the fine person, the person who because of his natural talents represents a high peak, as it were, in the mountain range of humanity. The other goal is to seek the lowly people, the minorities, the disabled, the prisoners: the valleys of the lowly between the heights of the great. They are the degraded, the enslaved, the exploited, the weak and poor, the poorest of the poor.
The first goal aims to exalt the individual, by virtue of his natural gifts, to a state approaching the divine. In the end he is made a god. The other goal seeks the wonder and mystery of God becoming man, God seeking the lowest place among men.
Two completely opposite directions. One is the self-glorifying upward thrust. The other is the downward movement to become human. One is the way of self-love and self-exaltation. The other is the way of God’s love and love of one’s neighbor.
Eberhard Arnold in When the Time Was Fulfilled
So whether this season finds you in a time of joy or in the midst of struggle, our hope and prayer is the same: that you might gaze upon him who loves you more than anyone on this planet ever has or ever will and that you might know his wisdom and his strength holding you in the storm and leading you to life. May your heart be filled with wonder at the awesome love of a Father who truly makes all things new.
And on a personal note, I want to thank you for all you have meant to us this year in your words of encouragement, your prayers, and your support for our friends in Kenya and those living with AIDs in South Africa. We are honored that we get to see so much love poured out into the world.
From our home to yours, Merry Christmas, and may find more of the Father’s fruitfulness and fulfillment in the year ahead!