December 24, 2009

There are times when I get so upset at him I feel like twisting his elongated body into a pretzel, and last night was one of those times. I had just returned from a thoroughly exhausting day of Christmas shopping, a task which rates near the very top of my list of most loathsome activities (somewhere between paying taxes and being boiled in hot oil). I had stashed my packages in a closet out of site from inquiring eyes and settled down for a relaxing dinner. A few minutes later when I returned to the closet to begin wrapping the presents, I discovered a sickening mess. Jaba, our pet miniature Dachshund, had managed to find the stash and tear into a box of chocolates. I honestly wanted to murder the gluttonous beast. It was the perfect exclamation point on an absolutely horrendous day. Fortunately for his sake, my wife Babs came to the rescue of the thieving mutt and carried him away from my fury.
Today, he is once again sitting at my feet whining for attention as if nothing had happened the previous evening. He is without doubt the most loving animal I have ever known. He insists on being next to Babs or me constantly. Not content to merely be in the same room or even on the same couch, he will press into us making sure his fur is rubbing against us. I am convinced he would crawl under our skin if he could. Though his pandering for attention is sometimes a little unnerving, his loving nature makes it pretty difficult to stay upset at him for any length of time.
His continual thirst for intimacy with Babs and me is a marvelous image of how our relationship should be with Christ. Even though I’m quite certain there are many times during each day when our less than holy actions are exasperating to our Lord, He will never refuse our thirst for intimacy with Him. After all, He is the one who continually pursues intimacy with us. “We love because he first loved us.” – 1John 4:19. He has gone to the greatest length possible, even death on a cross, to open up a pathway to our hearts. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son…” – John 3:16. Christmastime is the season when we celebrate how our heavenly Father pressed in so close to us that He actually did crawl into our skin.
“All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’—which means, ‘God with us.’” – Matthew 1:22-23.
For many people this is the most stressful time of the year. This year it doesn’t help that we are in a period of extreme economical distress and our society seems to be more divided than it has been in decades. Around the world Christians as a whole are experiencing more persecution right now than we have seen since the first century. Many will celebrate Christmas while hiding in darkened rooms for fear of reprisal from an oppressive government or zealous religious fanatics. Yet even in the midst of such trauma, the peace of Christmas is still available to those who are determined to press into Jesus, those who persist in demanding an intimate relationship with Christ.
I recommend you take a hint from our wayward little pooch and insist on pressing into your Master. Don’t let anything get in your way, not even your many indiscretions. I am confident that He will accept your offer of love and allow you to experience the peace and warmth that comes from intimacy with Him. This season is not about the perfect gifts, the best decorations, the tastiest food, or the warmest gatherings. It’s all about Jesus!
May you experience the full measure of His peace and joy this season even as you press into Him!

Bill and Babs, children of God learning to press into Him

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