A Christmas party changed my life. Many years ago, I pondered whether the activities at a party I had attended that night honored Christ. I concluded, they did not. And I decided then and there that I wanted to do better.
Bill went to bed when we got home, but I lingered in the glow of the Christmas tree. And that night I told God I wanted Christ to be Lord of my life. And God gave me the best gift of all. His peace.
Don’t get me wrong. I had grown up in a Christian home. My parents prayed with us and took us to church—faithfully! I had gone through confirmation, and I took seriously the profession I made before the congregation that I believed in Jesus as my Savior. And I did. As much as my teenage mind could comprehend. But I couldn’t quite comprehend why Jesus had to suffer and die. Couldn’t God have worked out our salvation some other way?
Now I was an adult, 30 years old, and I felt I needed to take my faith to a deeper level. I finally had come to understand that God is perfect and no imperfection can come into His Presence. I knew I was not perfect. I needed a Savior. An Advocate. So I told the Lord that I accepted Jesus as my Savior. And it was as though a Hand slipped into the glove of my life. That’s how I once heard the experience described by Max Lucado. And it certainly was true for me.
That Hand is the Holy Spirit, and He immediately began pointing out to me areas of my life that needed some work. For instance, (although I hate to admit this) when I was unhappy with Bill I gave him the silent treatment. It didn’t matter if I tossed and turned a whole night from being in a snit. I held out as long as I could.
But after that Christmas, we disagreed about something. I no longer remember what. But I knew—I knew—it would be wrong to give Bill the silent treatment. However, I wasn’t ready to talk. So I went to the kitchen and baked a cake.
In those days you started from “scratch,” so I had to measure the flour and the sugar, etc. By the time I had the cake in the oven, I was ready to go to Bill and say “Can we talk.”
I won’t say we never again had a spat (fortunately, Bill loves to eat cake!), but I never again tossed and turned a whole night because I was too stubborn to talk. That’s just one example of how the Spirit works. He gives you a sensitive conscience.
He also gives you a desire to learn and grow as a Christian. I’m 80, and I’m still reading my Bible and looking things up and praying and applying God’s teachings to my life. There’s always more to learn. If I dare to think I know it all, something pops up that reminds me I’m not as good as I thought I was. Just like that, the Lord hands me another issue with which to grabble.
God also gives you a desire to serve that’s just right for your age and stage. Right now my service consists of posting daily devotional thoughts on Friends of the Heart and my personal Facebook pages. “Tune in” daily if you want to follow my journey of reading through the Bible.
So what about you? Have you allowed God to be the Hand in the glove of your life? Or are you holding Him at arm’s length? Are you worried He might require you to deal with an issue you’ve struggled with? Might require you to go to Africa? (I did worry about that a bit.)
Well, do not fear. God loves us as a mother loves her baby. “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you” (Isaiah 49:15 NIV). God nurtures us and wants what’s best for us. He never requires something of us that He does not give us a real heart’s desire to do.
So sit by your Christmas tree tonight. By the twinkling lights, search your soul. Ponder your relationship. Maybe you need to ask forgiveness. Maybe you need to commit to learning more about God in the upcoming year. Maybe you need to ponder what Christ has done for you. No matter how near or how far you feel, take a step toward that Christ lying in the manger. And God will surely offer you the best gift of all: His peace. For now and for all eternity.