Here's the truth: aside from accepting Jesus as your personal Savior, there is nothing left to do to gain God's favor.
Nothing. And that means no thing.
- Emily P. Freeman Grace for the Good Girl, page 118
I recommitted my life to the Lord when I was 10 ... not knowing if it was "real" the first time. Anyone else out there double-check their salvation throughout their childhood? It was after a kid's sermon at camp where the speaker shared a powerful analogy. She had one mason jar, a bag of rice, and a bunch of big walnuts. She filled the jar with rice saying those were all the bits and pieces of our life - things that were important to us like friends, family, movies, American Girl dolls ... all the top priorities in 10 year old land. Then she started adding the walnuts which represented God and our relationship with him, except there wasn't room for all the walnuts. When life and all its' stuff fills us up first there isn't room for God. The speaker emptied out the walnuts and rice and started again. First, she added the walnuts and then pour the rice in bit by bit - everything fit perfectly into the mason jar, because, you see, when God (the walnuts) gets first priority in our life everything else (the rice) is able to fit around it. In my 10 year old mind, and still in my 26 year old mind, that makes sense. A lot of sense.
And so, I accepted Jesus into my heart again. Not that I needed to - I already had and both Jesus and I knew it, but because I wanted to reaffirm my commitment to him.
Still to this day, it amazes me that this is all Jesus asks of us ... ever. He asks that we believe in him. Accept him. Period. No other requirements, promises, or good deeds. Simple belief. That's a beautiful thing.
As I celebrate Christmas today I'm choosing to dwell on that simple gift. The gift of God's love for me. His willingness to be born, to live, to die ... without requiring anything. This sacrificial gift draws me to him. It intrigues me. It blesses and humbles me. It fulfills me. Because of its' magnitude, I want to do more. Rather than give nothing in return, my heart wants to give everything. Even though it isn't required.
Total side note, but thinking about Jesus' birth, I wonder if Joseph and Mary were truly alone that night? The Bible doesn't say much about Jesus actual birth, like his birth story. Did the innkeeper's wife assist Mary? Did any women from Bethlehem, maybe a midwife of sorts, join them in the stable? Was Mary's labor long or did the donkey ride practically bounce Jesus out? Was he breech? Did they name him right away? Did Mary tell Joseph she was only adopting future children after experiencing labor like I did during my labor with Jemma? I wonder ...
Best of all, we've incorporated a Bible story and prayers into her bedtime routine. She very much knows that the "Bye-bo" is read each night and she "pays" afterwards. She even has her doll/bear/bunny (whoever the chosen creature is) fold there hands for prayers. When we are through she sweetly chants "men, men" as her amen and snuggles under the covers. I can't wait for the day when the Lord tugs at her heart strings to accept him into her heart. I will be one proud and blessed mama. It is a weighty role to be entrusted with laying a Biblical foundation for her, but, with the Lord's guidance and support, Dominic and I are up for the challenge. Knowing Jesus as our personal Savior is the greatest gift we can accept and I can only hope and pray that my children will someday be willing to accept it too. I pray they will accept him, know him deeply, and allow him to lead their lives in ways we can only imagine.