Nothing satisfies me at the deepest level of my being like spending time with my grandsons. Grandpa and Grandma spent Thanksgiving weekend with a two-year-old grandson who lives just a few hours from us. He greeted us at the door with a “Well, hello! Come right in!” It was my greatest joy to spend most of our three-day visit on the floor in various kinds of play with him. My delight meter was over the top as he fell into my arms in estatic giggles at something as simple as rolling and chasing balls (several of them at once) across the living room floor.
Once back at home we could hardly wait for the next opportunity to hold, care for, and entertain our 5 month old grandson who, with his parents, shares our home. Such deep peace, love, comfort comes just from holding him—and it doesn’t really matter whether he is happy or sad, crying or smiling—just that he is close! No matter what we are doing when his parents bring him into the room, everything is put on hold and all our attention goes to this little boy who has our hearts.
As I was reflecting on the overwhelming love I feel for these two boys and what God is teaching me about himself in this stage of my life, I attended a benefit concert performed by Michael Card. He closed the concert with, “Immanuel”. As he introduced the song he talked about finding the right gift for someone at Christmas and the need to pay attention to what they really want. “Do you know what it is that God wants most from you?” he asked the audience. His answer brought all the emotions and thoughts that had been swirling in my spirit together in an epiphany. “God just wants to be with you.” Wow! I comprehend that now in a way I never could before my grandchildren were born. As a mother, I was better at caring for my children than I was at just being with them. Being a grandmother feels like a second chance—a chance to do the being with part better.
God used Michael Card’s words to open my heart to the Father God who wants to spend time just being present with me. It is no surprise to those that know me that I am better at serving and doing ministry than I am at being with God, too. Yet, and Card pointed this out to the audience also, what God wants most from me and you is also what will meet our deepest need—to be with God.
During Advent we anticipate God’s coming to dwell with man. We remember that he is ‘God with us.’ Most often we focus on the birth of Jesus, but the story of his coming begins when Mary conceived Jesus by the Holy Spirit. Max Lucado writes in God Came Near, the following description of God’s love demonstrated as the Word became flesh:
“It all happened in a moment—a most remarkable moment—the omnipotent in one instant made himself breakable. He who had been Spirit became pierceable. He who was larger than the universe became an embryo. And he who sustains the world with a word chose to be dependent on the nourishment of a young girl. God as a fetus. Holiness sleeping in a womb. The Creator of life being created. God was given eyebrows, elbows, two kidneys and a spleen. He stretched against the walls and floated in the fluids of his mother.”
Jesus set aside the glory and power of his deity just to be with you and me—to be present from conception to death—to enter into the human experience thoroughly and completely in an incomprehensible demonstration of love. In this busy season, I hope you will make time to sit with God, soaking up his presence, knowing the depth of his amazing love. Let that love soak deep into your spirit and awaken the truth, “our God is with us.” Let that truth convince you that every life matters. Let God’s Spirit empower you to boldly defend the unborn and every vulnerable life. God’s extravagant example of selfless love and His great desire to be with us shows us how to meet the needs of those in our world who are hurting and suffering. Is it possible that what an abortion minded woman needs most to encourage her to give her baby life is just our presence with her in the confusion and fear of an unwanted pregnancy? Would love expressed by simply sitting with someone suffering a devastating diagnosis give them courage to extract every drop of life God intends?
Because of the love I have for my grandsons and the inspired words of Michael Card, I find myself thinking that doing less and being more present is what God desires for me and you in this Christmas season and the coming year. I’ve always thought the words of Card’s song taken from Romans 8, “If God is with us, who could stand against us,” were about a call to spiritual battle but I’m beginning to see they are really more about a tidal wave of love. It’s a life-changing, world-changing difference—God with us!