A Nearly Perfect Christmas
This year I am having the best holiday season I have ever experienced. Best being defined as the one in which I am most content. It is a contentment that feels hard won. I have sought it for years. It was not easy to discover; and when I found it, I did not find it where I expected. It was not found where culture says it can be found.
The perfect Christmas was not found in the midst of lots of presents and people. Rather I am spending most of my time alone. It also was not found by the fulfilment of any of my dreams or goals earlier in the year. I am still in the middle of acquiring and experiencing those. Rather it was found in the security of love. It was not in the love shown to me by those around me – though that love has been an incredible experience. Rather it was in the love flowing from within me.
It is the love flowing from within me that is the most reliable love in the world because I am not its source. It comes from and belongs to the most powerful Being in the universe; and because of its Source, an endless supply is available to me. This love does not demand me to look or act in a certain way. It gives me permission to spend Christmas with others… or spend Christmas alone. It is a love that always satisfies my desire and gives me exactly what I need. Contentment is found only in its enjoyment.
This is why the perfect Christmas cannot be found in searching for fulfillment in anything external. Rather I must depend on the river of living water that flows from within believers, which is described by Jesus in the Gospel of John. The Apostle John explains that this river is the Holy Spirit, whom those who believed in Jesus would receive after his ascension into heaven. It comes from within believers, yet they are not its source. The source is God alone, and they are merely the vessels that He uses to pour out His love in all the earth.
I know this post must seem extremely idealistic, but I think it is a simple reality that we humans often do our best to avoid while looking to what is external and visible to satisfy our hunger. Instead of realizing the spiritual reality that satisfaction is found when we are pouring God’s love out into the world around us, we desperately search for a way for what is around us to fill the hunger within us. We want a river to flow from the outside in instead of from the inside out, but that is not the good news of the incarnation of Christ.
Jesus Christ came to be incarnated into the creation He Himself had made. (Incarnation is just a fancy way of saying that a spirit is embodied by flesh.) He allowed Himself to be embodied by human flesh in order to re-create His fallen creation. His Holy Spirit, which now dwells within and flows from within believers, is His continued incarnation in human flesh. It is one of His ways of continuing to rescue His broken creation. The incarnation of His Spirit in me is my secure form of love.
This holiday season I decided not to fulfill my own or others’ expectations of what my holiday should look like. Instead I have spent almost all my time alone with a dog. It has been wonderful to experience the solitude and silence that are in such short supply throughout my year. I hope I may somehow be able to retain an “inside out” perspective when “real life” hits next week as I return to full-time graduate school and part-time employment. Slowing down enough to hear God’s voice can be hard.by