Loving in the little

Last year, Matt and I stood in the rain together and prayed for our country at the Missouri Capitol. Him being there with me was a beautiful act of love. Love is so much more than one day a year!

Valentine’s Day is made for grand gestures, thoughtful gifts and lovey-dovey profile pictures. Flower shops and even Wal-Mart stores are clogged with people grabbing a token of their affection to proclaim their love. Though we don’t really need a day like this to express our adoration, this holiday serves as a reminder to appreciate those we love.

Tomorrow, it all goes on clearance.

The chocolate gets eaten, the flowers die and the stuffed animals get thrown in a closet.

The grand gestures mean nothing if not backed up by the day-in-day-out loving in the little ways no one else sees. Filling the coffee pot, early morning snuggles, supporting them in their work and ministry, staying up late to help with homework, folding the laundry, giving each other a kiss before heading off for the day, always speaking well of each other in public, praying for God’s favor in their life, backing them up, doing dishes, watching TV together, making breakfast, giving compliments, showing up, being honest when it’s hard, putting their needs above yours, sending an “I love you” text just because you do, giving them space to process and not heading straight for the argument. True love is validated in the everyday.

Jesus personally showed us this truth:

  • Jesus helped people out in a jam (John 2:1-10)
  • Jesus touched a leper who needed Him (Matthew 8:3, Mark 1:40-41)
  • Jesus took time to answer the questions of those seeking (John 3:1-20)
  • Jesus stood in the gap to rescue and forgive those who didn’t deserve it (John 8:3-11)
  • Jesus was willing to be interrupted (Mark 1:35-37)
  • Jesus fiercely defended His Father (Luke 19:45-46, John 2:13-17)
  • Jesus saw Peter’s mother-in-law and healed her without being asked (Matthew 8:14-15)
  • Jesus had dinner with Matthew and his friends and didn’t care what anyone else thought about it (Matthew 9:10-13, Luke 5:29-32)
  • Jesus shared His ministry with His friends (Matthew 10:1, Mark 6:7-12, Luke 9:1-2, 10:1)
  • Jesus sent the disciples ahead and cleaned up Himself (Mark 6:45)
  • Jesus was patient and took the time to have deep conversation (Matthew 13:36-37)
  • Jesus challenged his friends to dig deeper in their faith (Matthew 14:28-33)
  • Jesus had great compassion and entered into other’s grief (Luke 7:12-15)
  • Jesus sailed through storms with His friends (Luke 8:22-25)
  • Jesus was patient when Martha was stressed (Luke 10:40-42)
  • Jesus got His hands dirty to help and heal (Mark 7:33, 8:23, John 9:6)
  • Jesus saw people no one else did (Luke 19:5, 21:1-2, John 4:6-7, 5:5-8)
  • Jesus showed his friends who He really was (Matthew 17:2, Mark 9:2-3, Luke 9:29)
  • Jesus grieved with His friends (John 11:33-35)
  • Jesus loved his disciples despite petty arguments (Mark 9:33-37)
  • Jesus told the truth even when it wasn’t what a young man wanted to hear (Matthew 19:21-22, Mark 10:21-22, Luke 18:22-23)
  • Jesus wept over the lostness of people He loved (Luke 19:41)
  • Jesus stood up and defended those who loved Him (Matthew 26:10-13, Mark 14:6-9)
  • Jesus washed His disciples feet (13:4-5)
  • Jesus prayed for His disciples and for us (John 17:6-26)
  • Jesus loved Peter enough to tell him the truth (Matthew 26:33-34)
  • Jesus shared His sorrow (Matthew 26:38, Mark 14:34)
  • Jesus took care of His mom (John 19:25-27)
  • Jesus forgave (Luke 23:36)

Jesus loved. Scripture is seeped in His love. And when the time came for the Greatest Act of Love, when Jesus sacrificed His life on the cross, His disciples could believe and we can believe it now because every moment of His life was a testament to His amazing love for us.

The cross is the proof of a lifetime and eternity of God’s love. In a similar way, Valentine’s Day shouldn’t be just a one-shot love deal. Today, let’s celebrate the culmination of the 365 days before, and the promise of future days, full of loving in the little.

The Cross in Christmas

Our Christmas season has taken us through incredibly busy weeks, school programs and parties, dance rehearsals and recitals, and church commitments.

But, none of those scheduled appointments makes Christmas, well, Christmas.

As we’ve worked through our annual Christmas Countdown using The Family Book of Advent, one devotion last week brought Christmas into perspective for me in the midst of balancing expectations, making it on time to the next event and struggling with exhaustion.

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of King Herod, wise men from the east arrived unexpectedly in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”

– Matthew 2:1-2

This passage of Scripture resonates deeply with me. The wise men recognized a King had been born. They saw His star, in the midst of their important lives, and stopped everything. They decided to leave what they knew to find this King, setting aside their doubts and their fears, and putting their faith into action. For them, worshiping Jesus was worth the sacrifice, worth the journey.

Our glowstick path through the living room

Our glowstick path through the living room

The kids and I considered what we knew about the wise men, their commitment to seeing the King personally and how they gave Him their hearts and treasure in worship. We broke into a few tubes of glowsticks, and made paths through the house for each other, with Jesus figurines from our Nativity sets and the end of the line. Each child made a path for their sibling to follow, just like the wise men looked to the star to find the newborn King.

A few captured moments from our glowstick Nativity adventures

A few captured moments from our glowstick Nativity adventures

Then, we combined all our glowsticks to make a path through the entire living room to the manger of our largest Nativity set. What ended up happening drew us to the Cross in Christmas.

Glowstick after glowstick was laid, and a path was drawn from the stable to the Christmas tree on the opposite side of the room. When the wise men gave Jesus their treasures, they offered gifts to honor who He was and to prepare Him for the journey that lay ahead. Gold testified that He was King, and frankincense that He was Priest and would mediate between God and man. That way would be made through the message of the myrrh, an oil used for embalming, foreshadowing the death necessary for my redemption, and yours.

The glowsticks in the living room marked the way from the manger to the cross, symbolized in the Christmas tree.

Christmas has no meaning without the cross. It’s why He came. God was made flesh to be lifted high, for nails to pierce His hands and feet. The baby in the stable would be the One to purchase my salvation.

The cross is what makes Christmas, Christmas.