Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till he appear’d and the soul felt its worth.
Love. The greatest gift. The one thing that will change a crayon-drawn stick figure into a painting that rivals the Mona Lisa. The one thing that can change the path of a troubled kid. The one thing that really, truly binds us broken humans together. It provides the most noble motivation, the fiercest forgiveness, the most healing balm for our souls.
A situation can be pretty dark and dire, but knowing you have someone who loves you, who is there for you, can change any situation, or at least make it endurable if circumstances stay bleak. As a teacher, I know a major (if not the number one) resilience factor for students who experience trauma is having people who love and care for them. A little love goes a long way, and a lot of love brings a richness to life no money could buy.
Without love, what would life be but the steady steps of biology from birth to death? Love changes it all. It brings us to life. It brings us life.
We could say, it all began with love. God, who spoke the world into motion and breathed breath in our lungs, is love Himself. And since He is the Creator and Sustainer of all things, His love sustains us.
1 John 4:9-10 says, “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we have loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
Love motivated God’s quest of redemption. Obligation is not a word in His vocabulary. His love is extravagant. The kind you hope for when you are a middle school girl, complete with ridiculous antics like candlelit proposals and giant boxes of chocolates. John says God has “lavished” His love upon us, heaped it on like too-much whipped-cream on pumpkin pie. His love is so lavish, he even calls us His children! (I John 3:1)
This past week, my students wrote letters to me about their Thanksgiving holidays. Among other things, they were required to write about one thing they were thankful for. While a few students wrote about their favorite video games, I smiled as I read letter after letter of thankfulness for the love of family in their lives. I know that even though brokenness abounds in most homes, love covers a whole lot of that brokenness. Though not always the case, family is the one place most of us are truly known and truly loved.
The fact that God desires us as a part of His family, even when He very well knows the state of our hearts, is the cause for the celebration of this season! We are indeed fully known and fully loved. The course of history hinged on this love.
If nothing else strikes our hearts this Christmas, may it be God’s profound love for His people. The arrival of Christ would not be celebrated if not for the love that sparked the story. The story of the life that started as a baby in Bethlehem. The story that is the start of us.
I understand this season finds many lonely, tired, and broken. Perhaps this is you, or perhaps you find yourself surrounded by many people, but still feel lacking. Perhaps you can’t even find it in you to believe in this kind of love. May you hold onto the truth that your worth is priceless, and that you are indeed so very loved by the Savior of all.