It all started earlier this year. On a cold day in January, I took a walk down the street to a Bible study being held at our neighborhood library.
First of all, let me give you a little background to the story …
This library happens to be located in an area that a friend had once warned me about when we first moved into the neighborhood. She didn’t think I should go there alone …it might not be safe. Location is everything, right? — and this particular library in a community center was located right beside government housing–a.k.a., the projects. It’s just a block or so down the street from our house and much more convenient but I listened to my friend’s voice of wisdom and headed out for a much longer walk to the safer library downtown.
As I walked, I found myself passing by on the other side — across the street from the projects–when another Voice was heard. This Voice urged me to go straight to my local library — projects and all. I looked at the destination with hesitation in my step but found this new Voice much more compelling and my earlier fear was replaced with a slightly nervous anticipation but fresh determination.
What I found there were two librarians who loved Jesus and were all about sharing His love to everyone they met. They were courageous women who loved selflessly… giving whatever they could to help those who came to visit their library. They were strong and inspiring and put my fear to shame. I found real, honest friendship and hearts full of love.
That was at least 4 years ago. Fast forward to January, 2017…
As I walked down that same sidewalk in front of that same location that had now become a place of grace and deep friendships, I happened to notice a divot in the sidewalk …a heart-shaped divot.
My thoughts swirled back to those earlier days when warning labels were attached to this place; yet today, I felt God was giving His own label –etched in concrete– that He loved this place and the people who lived there. He was marking His love on the sidewalk directly in front of the housing projects to proclaim His love for them …not projects but objects of His affection!
That day a journey began for me of looking –really trying to notice God’s love written everywhere …not by human hands but through God’s creation, in stone, in the sky, in leaves and flowers, nests, sand and in other places where His heart touched earth with His love. It became somewhat of an Instagram movement for some of us …#heartseverywhere …#GodLovesUs.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
While this may not seem like the typical Christmas theme — a manger filled with hay, Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus, shepherds and wise men — there is a significant thread woven from the hay-filled manger holding the Savior of the world all the way through time and space to you and me right here …right now.
The Son of God came down from heaven to earth — born as a baby in a very humble stable one night in Bethlehem — because He loves you and me. His driving force was to be with us and reveal in a miraculous way His undying love for us.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Because of God’s love for us, He sent His only Son as a Savior to rescue us from ourselves. This is our joy and salvation. This brings Light into our dark world and gives us hope…”And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” Romans 5:5 (NLT)
And so this hope continues. God wants to keep revealing His love to us in as many ways as possible. Just as the Christmas story reminds us of the sign of the coming Messiah –“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:11-14 (NIV) — so the signs of His love continue to be written on hearts everywhere.
God reaches down from heaven and touches earth with His love and stamps His heart for all to see. Are you looking? Do you notice? Have you allowed your eyes to adjust to His Light?
He will always go to great lengths to reveal His love to us…even through hearts etched in stone to soften the hardness of our own hearts.
Advent not only reminds us about the coming of Jesus as a baby but also of His coming again. The waiting …the watching continues. And while we watch and wait, God’s heart is that all people everywhere would come home to Him and receive His gift of love and forgiveness… and let Him redeem our stories.
Are you watching? Are you ready?
“May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.”
Watch for the gifts of His love this season and remember, “with God …all things are possible!”