What’s Driving You?

A sign announcing “49 days until Christmas” greeted me when I entered a local store two weeks ago. A ripple of disbelief momentarily distracted me from the every-day items on my list. Stay focused, don’t panic.

Since Thanksgiving is a mere 26 days before Christmas, pre-Black Friday offers accompany the number-of-shopping-days-left notifications, adding to the angst. No one wants to risk losing out on the best deal on whatever happens to be THE big gift item this season. Limited quantities! Get ‘em before they’re gone!!

Ah, the annual, stress-inducing countdown to Christmas. Even for believers. If we let it.

A while ago, my longtime spiritual mother, Susan Hunt, introduced me to the concept of Word-driven vs. task-driven ministry. The former is based on “unwavering clarity about the mission of glorifying God and obeying His Word.”[1] The latter describes a list-making, get-it-done, check-it-off approach. Too often it describes detail-oriented, perfectionist me as well.

As I’ve been thinking about my natural tendencies and all the added activities the holidays entail, it occurred to me that being Word-driven applies to all of life, because we’re called to glorify God no matter what we’re doing (1 Corinthians 10:31). How ironic that we allow tasks to overshadow the true meaning of this glorious season: the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

My meandering thoughts also brought to mind “Happy nappy!”, a post I wrote two years ago and offer again here. I hope you’ll enjoy the reprise of this child-inspired reminder of unfathomable truth. And may we all endeavor to celebrate our Savior’s birth in Word-driven ways that glorify Him.

Happy nappy!

My 21-month-old granddaughter, Emma, loves to mother her baby dolls.  She strolls and feeds them, tucks them in and sings “rock-a-baby”.  Her tender ministrations warm my heart.

Earlier this week, I arrived at daughter Mary’s house for the first of my twice-weekly visits.  Six-year-old Joshua greeted me with exuberant orders to “look at the tree, Grammie!”  And what a tree it was! As my gaze followed Joshua’s outstretched arm, I beheld a magnificent, half-decorated Douglas fir, so wide it nearly filled the front room.  Emma’s happy babbles joined Joshua’s continuing dialog about the tree as I made my way through the house.  I tread gingerly, careful not to step on any of the favorite, kid-friendly (read: “unbreakable”) Christmas decorations, scattered about on the playroom floor. Among those recently freed from their storage boxes: the Peanuts gang – Charlie Brown carrying his spindly tree, Linus hugging his blanket, Sally holding her outrageous letter to Santa; a stuffed, chartreuse Grinch with his menacing scowl; and the Fisher-Price nativity, whose plastic figurines are perfectly proportioned for tiny hands

After the initial excited exclamations over the newly-appeared Christmas décor, Joshua, Emma and I settled into our morning routine, awaiting the appointed time to pick up 3-year-old Lyla from pre-school.  As I was preparing lunch, I overheard Emma saying, “Happy nappy”, a phrase we use instead of “sweet dreams” when tucking the children in for naptime.  Upon hearing her cheerful refrain, I surmised she was playing with the nativity.

IMG_4788 “Emma, are you telling Baby Jesus ‘happy nappy’?” My query was met with her inimitable, “Yes”.[2] Moments later, she gently transported the miniature baby-in-the-manger to the play kitchen where she prepared a snack for him. As I looked on, misty-eyed, God graciously used Emma’s simple gestures to remind me of profound truths:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.  In him was life, and the life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it . . . And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1-5, 14)

“ . . . Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:6-8)

“The Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14)

“When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.’ And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:15-16)

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15-16)

Jesus, the beloved Son, the second person of the Trinity, came to earth as a tiny, helpless baby who needed naps and food and the care of his parents.  Our finite minds can’t fully comprehend this astounding truth. Nonetheless, may we never forget that because of God’s great love for us, He sent us the most amazing, precious, priceless gift ever given, the gift we needed most: a Savior (John 3:16).

[1] Karen Hodge & Susan Hunt, “Life-giving Leadership” (Lawrenceville, GA: Committee on Discipleship Ministries, 2018), p. 170.

[2] “Yes” was one of Emma’s first words. Her charming, emphatic pronunciation made it one of her most endearing.

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