I have a great friend, one I can trust completely. He opens His heart to me, and I feel safe doing the same in return. He knows what’s going on inside my heart and understands what’s important to me.
Not for great deeds and heights attained,
Not for accomplishments and fame;
Not for moments when I succeed,
When I am strong, when I believe;
Not for times when I’m pressing on,
Unfazed by night, fixed on the dawn.
I think one of the main things that makes me want to be as close to Jesus as I can is the personalized touches of His love that He gives.
He does special things in each of our lives—sometimes we notice, many times we don’t, and other times we notice but don’t peg the credit right. It must be sad for Him, but Jesus loves us too much to give up. On and on throughout our life, He just keeps showing us and saying those three wonderful words: I love you!
In My heavenly kingdom, in the realm of the Spirit, all are happy and fulfilled, because they better understand My love. They do not question My love for them, for they have experienced the height and breadth and depth of it. They have great peace and great joy. There is no feeling that one is greater than another or that one is more loved than another, because they have found contentment in the knowledge that I love each of them for who they are. They understand that I died for each one, that I have redeemed each one, and therefore each one is very special to Me.
Ahead lies a world of new minutes, new hours, new days, new weeks, new months. On this threshold of the new year, so much is new and fresh. Your past sins and mistakes are washed away by My love and forgiveness.1
I won’t promise that the new year will be easy, but I do promise to be with you through the challenges and strengthening experiences that it will bring.
I have a special gift for you—one that’s different from anything you’ve ever received from anyone else. It can’t be bought or sold in any store, but I give it freely to everyone I can. It will never get old, never break down or wear out, and you can never outgrow it. No one can take it from you, and it will last forever. You can take it with you wherever you go and enjoy it anytime, all the time. It never changes and will never cease to surprise and amaze you. You can share it all you want, and there will always be plenty to go around. In fact, the more you share it, the more you’ll have.
Recently, I was reading about the history of Christmas and where our various Christmas traditions come from, including ones that may have originated in pagan rituals or festivals, and it struck me that one of the most fundamental truths about Jesus is how He accepts each of us where we’re at.
Something I’ve always loved about Christmas is listening to and singing the beautiful Christmas carols that have been written over the centuries. I like them so much that I often listen to them at other times throughout the year. Many are masterpieces and deeply moving. Recently, when looking online for the words to some of my favorites, I was impressed by the beauty of their poetry as well as the power of their purpose in a way I hadn’t been before.
The prodigal son is probably one of the better known of Jesus’ parables.1 It tells of a young man who leaves home, goes astray, regrets his decisions, and eventually returns to the loving, warm welcome of his father. It’s a theme that’s been retold countless times in literature and life, portrayed in art, danced in ballet, and even played in contemporary music, such as the Rolling Stones’ cover on their album Beggar’s Banquet. It’s a story of humanity that transcends nationality, creed, place, or even era, a story that is as poignant and relatable today as it was two millennia ago.
Victor Hugo’s literary classic Les Misérables tells the story of Jean Valjean, whose already difficult life is brought down by one lone decision when he steals a loaf of bread to feed his sister’s starving children. As a consequence, he spends the next 19 years in the notorious Bagne of Toulon prison. Unable to find work after his release because he is an ex-convict, Valjean begs at the home of the bishop of Digne, who feeds him and gives him a bed for the night. But Valjean, overcome by despair at what seems an impossibly bleak future, yields to temptation, steals some of the bishop’s silver, and slips away in the night.