Every year I like to buy a new Christmas book to read during the weeks before Christmas. This Christmas I chose a book called " Hidden Christmas" by Timothy Keller. We were visiting our oldest daughter, Karin, and her family in California and during our visit with her we took a day trip to Solvang, California. Solvang is an interesting and quaint town with lots of shops and good restaurants. There was this very small book store in Solvang and I went in to browse through the books. My browsing time was limited as our youngest 4 year old granddaughter, Payton, was with us. I managed to have a few minutes to look in the religion section, hoping to find a Christmas book to read for the Christmas season, but interestingly enough, the religion section did not have any Christian books. I kept looking around and I found two small shelves under a counter with Christmas books. On the top shelf were two copies of the book by Timothy Keller, "Hidden Christmas". The remainder of the title stated that the book was about "The Surprising Truth Behind the Birth of Christ". The book intrigued me. I have been a Christian almost all of my life and I have celebrated Christmas as a time to remember Christs' birth, so I couldn't imagine what the surprising truth could possible be behind the Birth of Christ. My curiosity led me to purchase the book and I am so glad that I did.
I have to share with you that I have been a Christian all my life and I also have to share with you that during my lifetime as a Christian I have never felt that I loved the Lord with all my heart, my soul, my strength and my mind, and that I loved my neighbor as myself as Jesus has directed us in Luke 10:27. Yes, I loved the Lord, but honestlly could I say that I loved him with all my heart, soul, strength and mind? And what about my neighbors? I wasn't even sure that I loved my neighbors. Sure, I cared about them, but love them, as I loved myself? I don't think so. I knew that I did not love God with all my heart, soul, strength and mind and I did not love my neighbor as myself. I knew I was selfish and wanted to put myself first. My needs, my wants, my ways before all else. Sure I loved God and yes, I cared about my neighbors but not totally and completely as I should.
I struggled to figure out what was the matter with me. Other Christians seemed to have it all together and here I was struggling with why I didn't love God with all my heart and why I didn't love my neighbor as myself. The desire to love God with all my heart was there and the desire to love my neighbor as myself was also there but I knew that you can't muster up love, or create it, or fake it. Love is either there or it isn't. So what was my problem?
From reading "Hidden Christmas" my problem that I was struggling with became so simple and clear. I needed a Savior to help me love as I should. I needed a Savior and that Savior is Jesus who was sent to us by God. I recognized that my sins weren't just things that I did but also things that I didn't do such as loving God with all my heart, soul, strength and mind and loving my neighbor as myself. The reality that I would never be able to love God and my neighbor within my own power was so freeing. I needed a Savior, Jesus, to help me love as I should and as I wanted to.
Some of you reading this may not think this is such a big deal. Some of you may have been blessed to get this from the very beginning and some of you reading this may not care at all, but for me this was a big deal. My lifetime journey of faith in Jesus has not come without questions, wondering, struggling, and searching but in this journey, God has always been by my side guiding and directing. The Bible verse from Isaiah 30:21 is so very real to me. It says "Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, "This is the way, walk in it". God has been with me and guiding me as I have wondered, struggled and searched. He was with me during this past Thanksgiving time as I searched through a little book store in Solvang, California for a Christmas book to read during the Christmas season.
I am so very thankful for the author, Timothy Keller and for his book "Hidden Christmas". It is a book that tells it like it is.... that we all need a Savior, Jesus Christ. I am so very thankful to God who always guides and directs my life to draw me closer to Himself. He wants to do the same for you too.
So what does all this have to do about serving the homeless at Soaring Wings Ministries? As most of you know we are in the process of buidling an addition to house a homeless family or young adults here at Soaring Wings MInistries. My prayer for many months has been that as we prepare a home for a homeless family or young adults that God would also prepare our hearts to love these people as Jesus loves them. Little did I know that in reading "Hidden Christmas" that God was answering my prayer. Within my own power I will never be able to love them as Jesus loves them but by confessing this sin and trusting God to fill me with His love for the homeless then I inded will be able to love them as Jesus would.
My prayer for each of you this Christmas is that you will recognize your need for a Savior and that you will "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all you mind and love your neighbor as yourself" (Luke 10:27).
Merry Christmas to each one of you from all of us at Soaring Wings Ministries!
499 Trinity Lane
Anita Rennells is the author of this blog. She and her husband have moved to Colorado when Ed retired and are in the process of opening a ranch to help homeless young adults.
Soaring Wings Ministries