"If the God you believe in as an idea doesn’t start showing up in what happens to you in your own life, you have as much cause for concern as if the God you don’t believe in as an idea does start showing up. It is absolutely crucial, therefore, to keep in constant touch with what is going on in your own life’s story and to pay close attention to what is going on in the stories of others’ lives. If God is present anywhere, it is in those stories that God is present. If God is not present in those stories, then they are scarcely worth telling." ~ Frederick Buechner

06 December 2011

He Said, "Yes."

The Advent season is my favorite time of the year, as it is for many. The soft glow of candles and Christmas trees, the cheerful twinkle of icicle lights hanging from rooftops, the glory of traditional Christmas carols, the myriad of opportunities to give to "the least of these," and foremost, the reminder of the precious gift of Christ.

And the festivities! I just love Christmas parties, and the women's ministry at our church does a good job of providing a couple opportunities for celebration each Christmas season. There's the annual Ladies' Christmas Gathering to kick off the holiday season on the right foot, with plenty of reminders of why it is that we're celebrating (hint: it's not about the presents). I went to that for the first time this year, and it was a blessed evening of fellowship, contemplation, and worship with my sisters in Christ.

This morning was the Ladies' Bible Study brunch that marks the end of our fall semester of Bible study. Given the timing, it's usually a Christmas-themed event, and today was no exception. The food was scrumptious (somebody makes an amazing cranberry-citrus goodie), the company marvelous, but what stayed with me today was a little phrase that Lynn, our women's ministry director, shared: Jesus said, "Yes." She had just shared about her bride tree that she puts up every year, so marriage was freshly on my mind. I began to think of Christ's symbolic marital relationship with the church. He calls us His bride. He entered the world as a helpless baby, to woo us to His heart. 

When I said, "Yes" to Nich on our wedding day, I knew him well enough to be certain that this was the man God had chosen for me to serve alongside for the rest of my life. I had seen his compassion for the inner-city kids of Newport News as he led the Boys and Girls Club outreach program through the 20Something ministry at the church where we met. I witnessed his kindness for the poor when he bought strangers lunch and provided a listening ear. His tender love for his elderly mother when he took me to Texas to visit her for Christmas the first year we were dating spoke volumes about his gentle heart. His willingness to take off at a moment's notice to China if the Lord led showed me his missional spirit.

Of course, as a couple settles in to the day-to-day routine of life together, quirks surface. I often joke to Nich that seeing the piles of laundry next of which he slept during our courtship should have been a red flag for me of things to come. If we don't maintain healthy emotional boundaries, these little quirks can easily become a catalyst for bickering and over-the-top arguments. Marriage sharpens and refines like no other relationship.

Today, on my rainy drive home from Bible study, I thought about God's omniscience. Jesus knew all of our idiosyncracies. He knew we would disappoint him time and time again. He knew we would fail him and betray him for comparatively ridiculous things. He knew He would be neglected. He knew that sometimes, we would be ashamed to admit that we know Him, much less claim Him as our most intimate friend.

He said, "Yes" anyway.

Jason Jenicke, "St. Joseph and Baby Jesus"

*I absolutely ABHORE that ridiculous "Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time" song. I want to throw something every time I hear that song. It probably didn't help that it was on the loop that played when I worked in retail last Christmas season.

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