The Christmas Spirit. The Holiday Cheer. Blah-blah-blah-blah. We stress out and do all this work for one day, and poof! It's over until next November when it all starts up again. (wait-didn't I see Christmas ornaments with the back-to-school stuff in August?) Don't get me wrong - Christmas is an important holiday. Well, observation, if you will. But most of the time it doesn't stir my soul the way it "should." However my soul "should" be stirred. Or at least shaken, if not stirred.
It's December, and being along the Southern California coast, it's off to the beach I go. I have some time to re-energize before my busy evening tonight. The beach ... that's where I know I can find God's Spirit. "The Spirit of God was hovering over the waters." Ruach. No wonder the beach calls to me. And there are so many perfect spots to view the ocean. And I know that God will reveal a profound truth to me at the beach today, as He has done several times before.
"Look to the water's edge," He tells me.
I watch the surf against the rocky shore below the bluffs. But I sense that there's more than peacefulness He wants to convey to me. So, I find another place to watch the waves, but I still feel unfulfilled.
Finally, I am standing on a bench, looking toward the horizon, where the water and the sky meet. Far, far beyond that point, where it is impossible for me to see from this bench, is the deepest part of the ocean. That's where God has buried all of my sins that have been forgiven. Surely, He doesn't want me to go looking for them!
"Look past that point. My love for you reaches beyond the depths of the ocean."
Nothing can separate me from your love, Lord. I know. Not even the powers of hell.
"Not distance or time either. From the time of creation, when I planned you - YOU - I had a plan to touch your heart today. I came to earth in Israel, halfway around the world from where you are, in the form of a baby. You know him as Jesus. I did this so that 2,000 years later you would know him as your friend and be reconciled to me."
Wow! Halfway around the world. Way past the horizon. Over an entire ocean and two more continents from this bench that I am standing on. God came to heaven to be born in a stable, so that centuries later He could say that He wants me - ME - to know HIM, the One who planned me from before the first wave was put into motion! This is the message that you want me to receive this Christmas!
And talk about reconciliation! Before I let Jesus in my life, I was a mess. I still mess up. I'm sorry, God, for the ways that I have hurt you. I am thankful that you made the oceans deep, because there are times that I feel as though my sins could fill them up. Thank you for your forgiveness.
As I stood looking from the east over the Pacific Ocean, I thought of the Three Wise Men, responding to the promises that God made through the prophets. The breeze from the ocean - the Ruach - surrounded me. As I felt the tears roll down my cheeks, I realized that for the first time in a long time, the meaning of Christmas stirred my soul the way that it should.