A caramel and macadamia nut latte sits to the left of me. With the clocks falling back the night breaks earlier into the day. The sun has completed its work and is now resting for the evening . I walk through the town past the fresh flower stand and even in the midst of almost winter, there is life in all its color. As fall fades into winter, the season of giving is slowly creeping in on us. Christmas adverts are everywhere and coffee shops begin to bring their significant holiday flavors.
Our culture deceives us in limiting the season of giving down to a few months in a calender year. Surely the spirit of giving and an attitude of thankfulness should not just be a seasonal thing. Surely it should be a consistent mindset that we live in. I am convinced that when we live with grateful hearts and giving spirits, when we pour ourselves out for the sake of others, we find life. True life. Full life. Contentment. Joy.
I have been led to this verse more times than I can count.
“Every good gift and every perfect ([ free, large, full) gift is from above; it comes down from the Father of all [that gives] light, in [the shining of] Whom there can be no variation [rising or setting] or shadow cast by His turning [as in an eclipse].”
His son. Jesus. God demonstrating His heart for me. His pursuit of me. That He is relentless with grace, mercy, and that I start with a clean slate everyday. That through the gift of His son, my past is redeemed, my present is joyful, exciting, and unpredictable, and my future decided. Upward and Heaven-bound. I am not a person who practices bird cage religion. I do genuine love in relationship.
The relationship. Bringing it back to my first love.Let me define the relationship for you. When I understood the gift in Jesus, from God, everything changed. It was an intense start, full of passion, full of opportunity free of fear, lost in wonder, lost in awe. Trying to interpret life through a new lense. That this relationship was to make me more whole and so the dotted line signed is one that extends to eternity. There is no til death do us part because even in death there is no separation The commitment to follow, to pursue was not a hollow one. Let your yes be yes and your no be no and yes was the answer and I’m running with it at full speed. And what have I crashed into?
Unconditional love. Liberation. Unending grace. Transformation.
What I have learned and continue to learn is risk, the willingness to look foolish and even crazy, the death of myself become a place where new birth enters in, patience, and a love for others. Status quo maintaining and fence riding only gets you a sore bum and an ordinary life.
And yes- years have aged this relationship and maybe there has been seasons lacking in zeal and fire but equally those are the times where roots have plunged to new depths, levels of understanding myself have been gained, and recognizing how intimately I am known and understood uncovered. For no season nor nothing with God is ever wasted.
So I bring it back to my first love and bring it back to a way to express all the affection that He stirs within my heart. The writing. The words. It has been almost two months and my soul has missed the words. Busyness, dissertation topics, young people, papers and thoughts on the theology of suffering in the book of Job seem to have most of my mental space as far as processing thought and vision. And my heart yearns for the words. For the rhythm in writing the words.
So I think of this gift. Jesus. This relationship that has changed everything within me. A love that continues to transform me. Then I consider other gifts that God has graciously extended to me through the relationship of others. I begin to weep. Like a baby. Uncontrollable sobs. As I think of the people who God has given to me, hand picked out, people who have loved me transforming my heart of stone into one of flesh. And it’s not good for man to be alone and so He places people in our lives to be the tangible extension of His love in order to reveal himself to the world and reveal himself to me. Not only the gift of His son but the gift of people who love his Son too and both have been key to me being transformed into His likeness. I can’t have one without the other. Both are required and necessary.
I think of women from years ago and women that are present now and how these relationships breathe life into my soul. The gift giver places people in my life that are knit from the same cloth. Friendships that have deep beginnings, that move at full speed. Shallow is never present. It’s a word I do not know and find incapable of exercising. Friendships that pursue Him. Friendships set on fire.
One of the best gifts I have been given from God in recent days, the author of every good and perfect gift, is all things Irish. My sweet man. My sweet Irish man. Who breathes order in my randomness. Who lives to serve, to love, to sacrificially give of himself. A man who challenges my theology and my self image. The honest reflections of his heart he wears, he communicates. He doesn’t hold back nor guard. He bulldozes through my defenses forcing me to bare my soul. Alignment. He moves with an intensity. He speaks with a sensitivity and a delicacy. Submission, obedience….the two words that have never sat with me……..he draws me to a place…..of listening better, of seeing that somethings he asks of me……are not for control but for love. And I get it. And sometimes when he goes on about his thoughts on the creation narrative or liberation theology I tune out. Not because I am not engaged but I have these moments where I look at him and think to myself that I just admire him, respect him, and desire to honor him. And the crazy thing? He doesn’t see it. That is just his normal. He doesn’t see himself the way I see him or others see him. We all see it. Everyone who knows him, knows this of him. For his life, for his heart, for his love, I am so thankful.. He reflects His maker.
So as the temperature drops and with things all around me dying in preparation for the winter, I have never felt more alive. I have never felt more in tune to life. More in harmony with God. I’m counting the gifts and attempting to be a good steward of all that has been given.