December 12, 2016
Whew...I just completed, I mean Kamise and I just completed her science fair project. Someone shout hallelujah. I will never understand why the school system keeps forcing us to repeat parts of grade levels we graduated from a really long time ago...or if we choose not to do the work...I mean assist our kids in the arduous science fair process, then our kid's board looks like a fifth grader made the board while her competitor's look like an adult-polished, elaborate scrapbook project.
So, for this assignment, I took one for the team and found a project we would both enjoy executing (at least for the first several hours), edited her spelling/grammar challenged work for hours, then spent an eternity making sure we have all of the parts for the board and making it look "professional and not cutesy because real live engineers and scientists will be judging it." Yeah, those really were the words in that email. While I wrote the title on the massive tri-fold my girl sighed,
"I wish we could make it cutesy."
I told her I wish she could, too. Because she's in fifth grade and most fifth grade girls like cutesy. Nonetheless, the 10-week long process has been executed and completed! Did I say someone shout hallelujah yet? I'm pretty sure that whatever the intention the administration has for putting a child and parent through this process, mostly is never realized. Because in our household, it only makes us dislike the scientific process even more than we did when the previous child finished their project, and my kids feel a certain emotion from their deepest parts, as Kamise so eloquently put it tonight,
"I hate science!"
After enduring the hardship of this day, I've got nothing left over for this post.
Besides, I don't think I could add anything original to the amazing advent devotionals circulating around this advent season. My personal favorite is Ann Voskamp's book, The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas. In it, she starts at the beginning of God's love story to us, in the book of Genesis and weaves the truths of the reality of the insanely reckless love and incarnation of our Creator throughout each page. Even though we're three weeks into advent, it's not too late for the richness of Ann's spiritual direction.
Because I don't have a deep thought in me tonight, I think it would be fruitful to give you a window into a mid-life blooper of Dennis. A few months ago, Dennis arrived home from a long day of work after we had all gone to bed. He and our team were in the thick of creating the design and materials for our global briefing and thoroughly exhausted. Seeking out a little comfort in a homemade chocolate chip cookie dough ball, he headed to the freezer where I keep a gallon ziploc bag full of homemade cookie dough balls. Unfortunately for Dennis, he went to the wrong freezer. In the dim light, he found a ziploc bag with balls in it, reached inside and took one out. Salivating, and with great anticipation, sunk his teeth into that ball of goodness.
But something didn't taste quite right. He sniffed the ball with his sniffer. After one more bite, gagging, he knew something wasn't right with the dough ball.
The next morning, Dennis shared with me his story. I buckled over instantly, howling at the top of my lungs...for the following week. Because the light was dim, he missed the label I'd written on the bag which said Italian Meatballs. RAW meatballs.
So I could be really obnoxious at this point and Jesus juke you all with a line like,
"Isn't that just like life? We hunger for the comforts and most of the time, end up with raw meatballs?"
I really did not premeditated that Jesus juke. Promise.
But it's a bit too true. My greatest comfort is believing that because of the incarnation, we are never alone while consuming raw meatballs. God. With. Us. With us in the mess, the brokenness, the goodness, the hopelessness, and the wonder. Ann Voskamp captures this reality in The Greatest Gift,
“Mary had her angelic visitation to hear of the Incarnation weeks ago. Joseph gets only the stinging betrayal of her swelling abdomen. He gets one painfully awkward conversation. He gets to lie awake at night wondering what a nice guy like him is doing in a mess like this. No unassuming angel shows up for him until he’s already made up his mind and heart to mercifully let her go. There is always that we are not spared of all trials, but we are always spared of the trials that have no gifts.
God always gives God.
Hush away the hurry, the worry. We can always have as much of God as we want. That’s what Joseph’s angel says that what is stretching Mary’s skin is God. (What is always stretching us is God.) That only the Ancient of Days has the authority to name this coming child, because the instant He inhales His first breath, He is older than His parents, older than the earth. He is Jesus; He is “the Lord Saves”; He is God with us, Immanuel.
Everyone, everywhere looks forward to Christmas. And it’s the joy of Christmas that offers the gift of exclusiveness because of its effectiveness to save the terminal soul.
He. Will. Save. God. With. Us.
God can’t stay away. This is the love story that has been coming for you since the beginning. The God who walked with us in the Garden in the cool of the evening before the Fall shattered our closeness with Him is the God who came after His people in the pillar of cloud, of fire, because He couldn’t bear to let His people wander alone. He is the God who came to grieving Job as a whirlwind, a tornado, a hurricane, who covenanted to Abraham as a smoking furnace, who wildly pitched His tent with the Holy of Holies so somehow, in all His holy Shekinah glory, He could get close enough again to live amid His people. He is the God who is so for us that He can’t stay away from us. The God who loves us and likes us and isn’t merely 50 percent or 72.3 percent for us, but the God who is always, unequivocally, 100 percent for us the God who so likes us, the God who is so for us that He is the God who chooses to be with us. He disarms Himself of heaven so that you can take Him in arms on earth.
He comes as a Baby because He’s done with the barriers. He comes vulnerable because He knows the only way to intimacy with you is through vulnerability with you. You can’t get to intimacy except through the door of vulnerability. So God throws open the door of this world and enters as a baby. As the most vulnerable imaginable. Because He wants unimaginable intimacy with you. What religion ever had a god that wanted such intimacy with us that He came with such vulnerability to us?
What God ever came so tender we could touch Him?
So fragile that we could break Him?
So vulnerable that His bare, beating heart could be hurt?
Only the One who loves you to death. Only the God who had to come back to get you. Only the God who would risk vulnerability, pay the price for your iniquity, because He wanted nothing less than intimacy. It cost Him everything to be with you. Who will spend a fraction of time just to be with Him? Who wants the gift of His presence? Christmas is about God’s doing whatever it takes to be with us and our doing whatever it takes to be with Him. He climbed down from the throne in heaven to get to you. Climb over the throes of Christmas to get to Him.”