I trust everyone enjoyed Christmas ... I sure did! My Christmas Eve was a little rough with whatever virus, food poisoning, demon-possession, etc. experience I had, but Christmas Day itself was marvelous. We ate a BIG brunch, moved into the great room and read the traditional Luke 2 Christmas passage, and then opened our gifts. As always, I get more than I need or expect ... my wife and family are incredibly gracious. Among my many gifts were a beautiful Italian wool sweater, some warm socks (sure sign I'm getting older), a devotional book, 3 wool dryer balls (yes, I find joy in my laundry duties), and some lavender scented body wash and lotion (don't judge ... my 3 daughters in law say it smells "manly" ... I happen to like lavender).
But I will tell you as a fact that my best gift was simply to be gathered all together with my wife, all my boys, their wives, and their babies. Being with them made everything else pale in comparison. I know it sounded cheesy when I told them that on Christmas Day ... and it still sounds a bit cheesy as I put it in print ... but I promise you it's true and I suspect most of you understand what I'm saying. I'm not naive enough to think that I'll get this joy and privilege every year. As our family grows and continues to spread out I realize times like this are to be treasured and cherished. There is simply nothing more precious than being "with" my family.
This has caused me to reflect again on the beauty and majesty of Jesus' birth ... God Himself came to be "with" man. The prophet Isaiah identified the coming Messiah as Immanuel, which means "God with us." Of course, even in our current study of Leviticus we note that God was "with" His people through His presence in the tabernacle. What a miracle, what a blessing, what grace, what love, what wonder ... God with us, still with us, even indwelling us through His Spirit, always abiding in and present with us! There is no greater gift imaginable.
So why do we pout, whine, get angry, despair, question God's goodness, etc. when we don't some sort of lesser gift from God? (i.e. more money, new job, better health, crystal clear guidance on a decision, more obedient children, higher grades, etc.) We already have the most amazing gift imaginable ... the God of creation, the King of Kings, the Holy One, the author and giver of life, the eternal I Am, the Sovereign Lord, the beginning and the end, the Rock of Ages, the infinite source of grace, the Good Shepherd, the Loving Father is WITH us and has even redeemed us through the atoning death of His Son, Jesus.
Sure, socks and lotions and books are great but there's nothing like being WITH who you love. Maybe our problem isn't so much with what we do or don't have or get ... but rather who or what we love!?!?