Ten years ago, if you could have walked into our home at Christmas, you would’ve found a pretty traditional scene. We were a pretty typical American Christian family. We had a Christmas tree and lots of presents and decorations that didn’t hold any real meaning.
But somewhere along the line we found ourselves questioning our beliefs and, even more, questioning our actions. And not just during Christmas, but in all areas of our lives.
God laid a deep burden on our hearts for the needs of others around the world and a deep conviction for how much we’ve been given, and how much is expected of us.
And so our traditions began to change.
It wasn’t overnight; it was a process, a journey. We whittled down our decorations. We whittled down our spending. Until one day, we found ourselves finally ready to take the leap, and focus only on Jesus instead of ourselves.
You see, there are some things that he said that I just can’t shake, some images that I just I can’t get out of my head. Like…
I was hungry, and you didn’t give me something to eat.
I was thirsty and you didn’t give me something to drink.
I was homeless and you didn’t let me in.
I needed clothes and you didn’t give any.
I was sick and you didn’t look after me….
I can so easily see myself saying one day, “When, Lord? When?”
And he’ll say, “Whatever you didn’t do for others, you didn’t do for me.”
That gets me, ya’ll. That gets me. And that’s why, when photos like this go around facebook:
I can’t ignore it or write it off. I can’t rationalize it away under the banner of how God loves the 1st world as much as the 3rd and wants to give us good gifts, also. I know there’s a truth in that statement, I do. And of course, we do give good gifts to our children. We give them 364 days a year. But, for me, I can’t bring myself to make the one day of the year we’ve designated to worship Jesus’ birth about us, at all. My heart just can’t do it anymore.
So last year, we started giving the gifts to Jesus.
This morning we sat down with the Gifts of Compassion Catalog. We looked through every item, discussed every option. And, as I attempted to explain the environments that so many millions of children live in around the world, I found I couldn’t stop the pages from blurring. I couldn’t see through the tears as I imagined the suffering and dying of others children. We’ve been given so much.
Not that I begrudge my blessings.
But I have a desire to spread the wealth. To spread the light. To spread the life.
It’s selfish to do anything else.
And, truthfully? Sometimes I genuinely worry exactly how narrow the gate is. And I wonder if one day I will say, “God, it’s me!” and he will say, “I’m sorry, I don’t know you.” I’m afraid he will say, “I was so hungry, why didn’t you feed me, Jessica? Why didn’t you feed me?”
“There was so much darkness, Jessica. Why didn’t you shine? Why didn’t you shine?”
It weighs me down.
Because the truth is, often times my religion is only lip service. More often than not I have more knowledge than practice. So often I say I know God, but I don’t know love. So often I’m a listener and not a doer. And I wonder, am I fooling myself?
So on days like today, I boast in being humbled.
And try to remember how every day I am drooping and withering and fading away. And how short my time to be planted in His fields are. And how great is the harvest. And although I’m still waiting to be sent to His most foreign fields, I can still do good from here.
So this year, for Jesus’ birthday, Seven Year Old is giving him clean water.
Husband is giving him mosquito nets. (Blame the African M.K. that lives within him)
I’m giving him safe and sanitary bathrooms.
Five Year Old is giving him food.
And Eleven Year Old picked life.
I hope He likes his gifts. We really put a lot of thought into them.
What are you getting Jesus for his birthday?
If you’re interested in Compassion’s Christmas catalog, you can view it online here.