I didn’t grow up in a Christian tradition that observed Lent. It wasn’t until my late twenties, when I was going through a terrible time in my life, that I began to observe it. It was one of those seasons where I was stuck. Stuck in my sin. Tangled in...
Savior and Friend
The Christmas season is fully upon us. I have no idea how this happened, since it feels like only a few days ago I had 31 people at my house for Thanksgiving. I love hosting, but this was the longest day of my life. I am not at all opposed to going back to my growing up years, where I did absolutely nothing on Thanksgiving except show up with all my relatives at my grandparents’ house and proceed to plow through turkey and mashed potatoes until I was tipsy on tryptophan. Those were some good days.
Christmas is here whether we’re ready or not, and I pray it’s your best yet–not because your circumstances are the best they’ve ever been, but because you’re leaning into our Savior more than ever before (For some encouragement, check out this month’s special Christmas Cultivate Podcast). We have a choice this Christmas: to set our expectations on the inability of people and presents to meet our deepest longings, or to cast ourselves on Christ who is the fulfillment of our souls. I’m choosing Christ, and I hope you will, too.
As we prepare our hearts, I’m reminded of Gabriel’s words to Joseph in Matthew 1:21-23. “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel,’ which means ‘God with us’” (emphases mine).
Notice these two bookends regarding the name of Jesus.
The first is that He will save us from our sins (v. 21), and the second is that He will be with us (v. 23). I’ve read this account many times, but never noticed the marriage of God’s power to save and His intimate nearness. If He was only mighty to save but not mercifully with us, we would have a Deliverer but not a Friend. And if Jesus had merely drawn near to us apart from any power to save, we would have a Friend but not a Savior.
This time of year accentuates whatever place in which we find ourselves. If all is right in our world, the season is extra celebratory. How can eggnog, Christmas lights, and a month-long dose of sentimental music not make us feel extra hopeful? But if we’re walking through grief, loss or pain, these very same things only amplify our sorrow. So we take great comfort in our Savior, who is both strong enough to save and loving enough to have made His home with us. He is both Savior and Friend. I pray you are experiencing Him as both this year.
As we end this year together, I want to say thank you for all your encouragement and support. That you would go through my Bible studies, listen to my podcasts, and come visit me on the road is truly a gift to me.
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