If I could give the gift I REALLY want to give to my friends & family…   it would be the absence of sorrow and strife.

Most of us…   deep down…   wish for this same thing…   and wish to give to others this same thing. We may not even know it. Take for instance…   the dream most of us have (or have had) of coming into a lot of money. Most of us hold that up as a great gift! Sure, on the surface of it, such a gift is the ‘gaining’ of immense wealth…   but a big part of the real value, I think, is the accompanying ‘absence’: of financial worry, debt, imprisonment at a job we don’t like, etc. Further, most of us, when we dream of winning coming into a lot of money (like winning the lottery for instance) we dream of paying off the debts of our parents, siblings, good friends…   and making it possible for them too to experience the absence of financial worry and stress.

All that is to say…   by way of example and illustration…   sometimes what we need most is for stresses, worries and restrictions to be taken away (to be absent) for us to enjoy a level of peace and joy in life. I would like to think that our natural human state…   our natural human life…   our natural human perspective…   is one where JOY, not worry, fills everything.

I think that is how God planned it from the beginning…   it’s just that we’ve got so much junk in the world that it has made joy very difficult to experience. But, if we know anything about God’s plans and promises it is that God will make joy the centerpiece of life again (from Isaiah 35:10):

And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

‘The ransomed’ are simply all of us who God has a plan to ‘save’ from the junk of the world. This will happen once for all at some point in the future…   but it is available to the faithful right now! In the coming of Jesus (the reason we celebrate the Christmas season) we see that God has ‘ransomed’ and ‘saved’ us…   and even though things are still hard and worrisome, God has promised to be present with us in them…   pointing us past the junk and towards a peace and joy which surpasses understanding or reason.

enJOY this promise this Christmas