What is it about the importance of Christmas and how I embrace myself? A Christmas Identity? From that baby in a manger to the cross on which He died and rose again, and still beyond. It matters, friends.
It matters a lot.
And today I am honored to bring you someone who has greatly blessed my 2017 to share this message of hope. Wise, kind, encouraging, and a heart that deeply desires for you to know the depths of God’s unfailing love, I share with you today, Leslie Newman from Journey to Imperfect.
The Importance of Christmas
I looked into those precious baby blue eyes. They seemed to peer right into my soul. We had just come home from the hospital, and I was having my first few moments alone with my sweet baby girl. I couldn’t quit looking into her face. And as her eyes were searching mine, they seemed to be looking straight into my soul.
I felt something I had never felt before, a love deeper than I ever knew. Something that cannot be put into words.
As I rocked her back and forth, I remember wondering at a love like that. It came to me at that moment, just a little wisp of a thought that flickered through my mind, “This must be how God loves me. I understand it better now.”Becoming a Mother gives us a deeper understanding of God's unfailing love. #chosenandworthy #identity #importanceofchristmas #linkup #hope @jrnytoimperfect Click To Tweet
That was over 20 years ago. In most of those 20 years as I raced through the responsibilities of being a mother and wife in those child-raising years, the joy and wonder of the kind of love that God wanted me to understand became dulled until I could barely see it.
I knew God loved me, of course, He did!
I attended church every Sunday. Reading my Bible and praying, I tried really hard. I tried to be a good mother, a good wife, a good teacher, but there was a lot of comparison going on during the years that I raised my daughter and her brother – and a there was a whole lot of trying to be good enough.
The sad thing was, I tried so hard that I ended up looking in all the wrong places for what I needed the most.
I had lost sight of the one thing that would have really helped me. I couldn’t see the deep love that God had for me and intended for me to know. Because I didn’t understand His love fully, I really didn’t understand my true identity.
But one day, I heard the Lord calling me back as I read Psalm 27:8 – “When You said, “Seek My face,” My heart said to You, “Your face, Lord I will seek.” So I did. I determined to turn my face to His, and I began to seek Him more deeply through prayer and time spent reading His words in the Bible.
What He led me to across the span of several years changed everything.
Nevertheless, when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. -2 Corinthians 3:16-18, NKJV
I sought the Lord, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to Him are radiant with joy; their faces will never be ashamed. –Psalm 34:4-5, HCSB
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. –Hebrews 12:1-2, NASB
Through these verses, I began to understand that I was not being real with anyone.
In trying to be good enough, I was focusing on myself, not Jesus. 2 Corinthians 3:16-18 helped me understand that if I would just turn to Him, he could take away the veil from my face. With my own heart blinded to many things, I spent my life behind the mask of who I thought I should be. Without even being aware of it, I was hiding myself. I finally realized I could let Jesus see the real me – imperfections and all. And I could let others see that, too. And once that veil fell away from my face, then the Lord could begin the transformation He wanted me to have all along.I finally realized I could let Jesus see the real me - imperfections and all #importanceofChristmas #identity #ChosenandWorthy #hope @jrnytoimperfect Click To Tweet
When I read Psalm 34:5 I realized I could look straight into the face of Jesus and not be ashamed. He has saved me from all my sin and from my own misunderstandings about who I am. He’s walked through it all, right beside me, helping me along when I didn’t even realize it. There was nothing to be ashamed of, ever.
I began to see that looking to Jesus is looking to glory. And from glory to glory, we are transformed into His image. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. These things were a revelation to me and the freedom I felt lifted a weight from my shoulders.
Hebrews 12:1-2 became my life verse and the theme verse for my blog and the writing that came out of my experience.
This verse showed me in a powerful way that Jesus is the author of my story and of yours. He is the perfecter (completer) of our faith who has set a pathway before us and asked us to persevere. He tells us to keep our eyes focused on Him looking straight into His face. To seek Him for guidance and hope and endurance for each and every situation we face in this life.
We can move forward with a new identity because of what He did on the cross. It’s all about understanding that we are defined by love. Not abilities, not how hard we try, nor anything other than one fact. The fact that we are loved by Him.Who we are is defined by love, not abilities, not how hard we try, not anything other than the fact that we are loved by Him #identity #chosenandworthy #importanceofChristmas @jrnytoimperfect Click To Tweet
And as I write these words today, I think about Mary.
Can you imagine the depth of what she must have felt as she looked into the eyes of Jesus? She knew He was the Son of God – yet there He was, just a tiny baby, born into poverty and in humble circumstances, grace upon grace and glory to glory, lying there beside her in a manger.
That tiny baby was God in human form. He would be loved by a few, forsaken by many, yet still, He came to us so we could look into His face and know Him more fully. He was so in love with us that He would spend an eternity pursuing us with that love. From the manger to the cross, and beyond to the glories awaiting us in heaven, He calls us to turn to Him, looking at Him with unveiled faces, unafraid and unashamed, chosen and worthy, precious daughters of the King!
Leslie is a wife, mother to two, writer, teacher and friend. Currently, she spends her days home educating, reading, writing, and being a full time household manager. Drop by and visit her at her blog, Journey to Imperfect, where she’d love for you to join her in conversations about faith, prayer, and letting go of perfect.