Confession: I have Scrooge-like tendencies. I’m not a celebrator by nature. So when I left the states ten years ago[!] and moved to a third-world country, I was more than happy to leave behind the holiday culture of relentless ads and promotions designed to make money for card and candy companies while I say ‘baaa’.**
Now, for better and for worse, the western holiday culture and the western holidays themselves have reached us. For better, that means a few places have Christmas trees and decorations in December. For worse, it means displays like this:
But then I read Ephesians 1:3-14 in The Message translation. The passage was like a Valentine from God, an expression of how He loves me and you.
We’re the focus of His love:
Long before He laid down earth’s foundations, He had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of His love, to be made whole and holy by His love.
How wonderful it feels to be the focus of someone’s love, attention, and efforts.
Did someone say presents?
He wanted us to enter into the celebration of His lavish gift-giving by the hand of His beloved Son.
I love getting gifts. I love it when someone is thoughtful enough to give me a present. God doesn’t just answer my prayers, He gives me good things on His own initiative.
He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need…
We can ask God for anything but even if we forget some crucial request, it doesn’t matter. God has it covered. He’s looking out for us even when we aren’t.
Design for my life
…letting us in on the plans He took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in Him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.
It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, He had His eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose He is working out in everything and everyone.
This is why I don’t have to plead and beg God to give me what I need, but I can simply and quietly ask Him. He has His eye on me. He has a plan that includes me and everyone I care about [and the rest of the world] and He’s working out this purpose with me.
Now that’s something to celebrate.
**Though I may have scrooge-like tendencies, here’s my Valentine’s Day breakfast:
In our early days, when we couldn’t afford to buy fancy chocolate, I served the family chocolate mint chip ice cream and screwball cake for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I was the only one who managed it for all three meals. The others always dropped out after breakfast. This year, I’ve tweaked the tradition [drumroll] with the best fudgy brownies. But if you’re a purist, screwball cake is the way to go.
Come to think of it, any holiday that gives me an excuse to have chocolate for breakfast is worth celebrating. Bring it on!