The Greatest Gift of Christmas.
I ask my Sunday School class of 13-14 year olds
What is the greatest gift of Christmas?
And they know the answer intellectually.
They answer like they have studied for the quiz.
Their eyes are blank and unfeeling.
Is it because they know about what happened in Connecticut on Friday?
Or is it a normal Sunday morning tiredness and boredom that creeps in
says it would be better to stay home under a blanket and rest
than get dressed and come to church and listen?
I take a deep breath.
I don't find fault with them.
I feel this way myself sometimes.
Do I believe that Jesus is THE greatest gift?
Do I believe He is THE Gift?
Do I believe it today?
Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief . . .
How often do I pray these words?
How often am I glad for these words to Jesus!
Help me believe today.
Help me want to seek you wholeheartedly today.
We read about the Magi
searching for a King in a country that is not their own.
We read a story of a man who ejected from his plane
parachuting behind enemy lines
waiting to be rescued.
Both of these examples are about searching with all our hearts.
But neither example strikes a true sincere chord in the hearts of my kids.
I am struggling. There is no flicker of heart-felt understanding.
Praying, Lord help me . . .
I breathe deep again and exhale.
"Ok," I say, "if I hid $100, a stick of gum, a puppy, and a stuffed animal
and told you to go search for those four things,
what would you search for first?"
Before they even answered, I knew what they would say,
by the twinkle in their eyes and they way
the corners of their mouths turned up
when I said
Who would have thought, Lord,
that this would be how I could get them to think about
"Why would you look for a puppy first?" I asked.
Their voices perked up with tenderness and sweetness
joy and excitement.
Because they are so CUTE.
They are so soft and sweet and cuddly.
And their ears, oh my goodness!
They are so . . . . . . ooooohhhhh! I don't even have words for it!
Now we are going somewhere.
They KNOW what they love about puppies.
And they love them so much there
is a level of delight that you don't even have words to express.
I challenge them,
Could you believe that you would
want to search for God as much as you would want
to search for a puppy?
Even more so?
Because what you knew about Him
caused you so much sheer delight???
As much as you would want
a drink of water after
6 days of being in the wilderness,
as much as you would want rescue
from your worst fears,
He will be found by you when you seek him
with all your heart
and all your soul
whether it is for rescue,
for . . . . even . . . . delight.
And I challenge them,
Could you believe that it is even
to find God?
Because you will not search for Him
if you do no think it is even
to find Him.
God is so much more.
So much more than
we can imagine.
So much more delightful
than a puppy.
But can't a puppy
--the way they make us feel--
tell us something
about fullness of joy
and pleasures forevermore
in His presence?
I believe so.
I believe the way our hearts
the heart of God
I told them my stories
of delight with the Lord.
Stories about birds and quirky things like stars and butterflies.
Things that make sense to me but that might not to them.
I tell them to remind them
that God knows me.
And He knows them.
And that when I seek Him with all my heart,
I find Him,
in the most
I have found him in my darkest places
and my deepest times of shame and need as well.
They will find Him too.
And I can't wait to hear their stories
of finding Him.
I know they will.
I know they will tell me.
Their verse for Sunday School:
But if from there you seek the Lord your God,
you will find him
if you look for him
with all your heart
with all your soul