Starting Tiny

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What’s your favorite fruit?

We eat a lot of apples and strawberries in our house. I also love blueberries and raspberries, though no one else in my family shares my passion for them.

During the winter, I probably cut up two apples a day, dicing through skin and fruit flesh into four or eight slices to share.

When the apple splits open and those little, tightly packed seeds appear, I smile because I used to believe if I swallowed an apple seed I’d grow an apple tree in my tummy. (Six-year-old naiveté.)

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Now when I hold those tiny buds of new life in my hands, I’m always amazed by God’s creation. How ten or fifteen-foot-trees sprout from such humble beginnings, and then dozens, maybe hundreds of blossoms appear.

Followed by too many apples to count.

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Out of curiosity I looked up apple seeds & trees. In Florida, citrus trees thrive better than apple, but there are a few variety of apple trees that can grow in our humid, damp climate. Normally it takes four to ten years for an apple tree to reach maturity and produce fruit.

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This Christmas, while fighting the nonstop traffic and baking cookies and racing to find the perfect present, I’ve been desperate to keep my eyes on Jesus.

On God’s gift, starting so tiny and helpless yet bursting with hope and grace and forgiveness.

God could easily have sent His Son as a young man, or even as an adult to lead & teach the disciples, then go to the Cross to fulfill His part of God’s perfect plan.

But instead, He sent a precious seed of His grace…so small, so perfect, to grow into our Savior and experience life on earth as we do.

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This Christmas, I pray you and yours experience God’s love in a powerful way, remembering the tiny start to our Savior’s life and the enormous grace we’re offered through Him.

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! (2 Cor. 9:15)

 

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Keeping the Star

“Are you keeping that forever?” Chase sidled up next to me in the kitchen. We glanced at the yellow star craft I made with my 2nd-5th grade Sunday school class last December.

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“Maybe.” I stirred the meatballs. “Can you believe it’s been almost 365 days since I put that on the fridge?”

Chase shrugs and scurries away, still in the throes of his first decade, not yet in awe of the brevity of life adults feel more heavily each year.

I continue preparing dinner but glance back at the star, again and again. How often had I noticed and read the words during the year it had graced the side of our fridge?

There’s a small splat of pasta sauce on it and the edges are beginning to curl. The words of Matthew 2:10 tuck neatly into the folds of my heart. “When they saw the star they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy.”

How I’ve needed that star, needed that reminder of GREAT JOY. Foundational joy, because at the end of the day–and at the end of this year–through difficulties, death, and disappointments, we have Jesus.

We have a risen Savior who was a babe in a manger.

One of my favorite worship songs is called Forever, by the talented Kari Jobe. Maybe you’ve heard it, or your church has sung it?

The moon and stars they wept
The morning sun was dead
The Savior of the world was fallen
His body on the cross
His blood poured out for us
The weight of every curse upon him
One final breath He gave
As Heaven looked away
The Son of God was laid in darkness
A battle in the grave
The war on death was waged
The power of hell forever broken
The ground began to shake
The stone was rolled away
His perfect love could not be overcome
Now death where is your sting
Our resurrected King has rendered you defeated
Forever, He is glorified
Forever, He is lifted high
Forever, He is risen
He is alive
He is alive

 

There’s a verse nestled in that song, a verse that’s awful and wonderful and achingly beautiful. “One final breath He gave/as Heaven looked away.”

And it always reminds me of Christmas. Weird? Maybe. But it does. Because Jesus didn’t come to earth to hug people. He didn’t come here to make us feel better or to teach fishermen how to catch the most fish (though He did help with that… 🙂 ).

Jesus came to earth because He had to. Separated from His Father–oh, that’s what gets me every time.

Heaven looking away from the Prince of Peace because he wore our filth in order to save us. He was the perfect sacrifice on our behalf, to make God’s creation right with Him again. It’s ugly and bloody and uncomfortable.

It’s the GOSPEL.

He’s the lamb.

And He was tiny once, helpless, born in a stable and laid in a manger. And I’m so incredibly grateful as I gaze at that crinkled yellow star on my fridge. The weight of the year lifts, the worries of the moment evaporate, and the joy of the Lord once again becomes my strength when I have none.

Is He your joy, too? Is the knowledge that He died on the cross for you strengthening your heart this wonderful, difficult season?

I pray that it is. I pray that you’ll take that knowledge–that God sent His only BELOVED Son–to rest among dirty straw and sinners alike, and you’ll praise Him and cling to that in your dark moments.

Keep that star close–keep that truth close.

I pray you and yours have a Jesus-filled season of wonder, peace, and most of all–JOY.

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 “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11)