Friday, November 15, 2013

The Greatest Gift

I laughed when I was reminded of the translation of manna this week. I could just picture the Israelites, hungry, cranky, tired, watching this stuff as fine as snowflakes fall from the sky and ask each other—“What is it?”

God’s provision elicited the response, “What is it?”

Thing is, their response isn't so different from mine at times. After I've prayed and watched and then been handed something that didn't at all look like I expected God’s provision to look like, I too have asked, 

“What’s this, now?”

Not only do some of God’s provisions not look like our expectations, but sometimes God doesn't either. I wonder how often I model my idea of him after my own interests.

Imagine going back in time two thousand years. You’re standing in front of the Temple in the outer court, and can peer straight into the Holy Place with its lampstand and table of bread of the Presence. A massive curtain separates it from the Most Holy Place, shielding the Presence of God. This place so holy only one priest, one day a year could enter.

The whole massive structure, the careful placement of symbols, the idea of the Presence of God over the Mercy seat back there floods you with awe, and then, right before your eyes, the curtain rips in two and for a moment you can see straight through to the forbidden place.

What do you do? You shield your eyes; you fall on your face. And then, expecting to be struck dead, you lift up your head and peek.

There on a hill not far from where you bow, hangs a man, limp, bloodied. A crown of thorn hangs askew on his now dead body.

Your eyes travel back to the Temple. Could it really be?

He doesn't look like you expected.

My prayer is to see the Lord from unveiled eyes this year, to let any preconceived ideas and expectations fall away if they are not of Him, and be willing to let God unveil God in my life this year. 

Sometimes He uses books to help that process.

One of those books (which I went through much faster than you should because it was burning in my hands to be given to a certain friend) is The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas, by Ann Voskamp.

Everything about this book exudes beauty.  Exquisite cut paper illustrations by Paula Doherty frame each short section of devotional reading and reflection.

Quietly, carefully, thoughtfully, Ann recounts the Coming, the march of Grace from Adam to Jesus , through the messy ancestry, through the messy places , to the messy manger.

Each reading feels like a gift in itself because it opens your eyes to the Greatest gift of all—the One that didn't look like He was expected to look, the One who doesn’t always do as you expect Him to do.

The Greatest Gift--"God gives God."

Buy this for yourself and a friend before December 1st so you can enjoy the pageantry through the daily readings culminating in a rich celebration of Christmas. 



  1. Beautiful post, Marcia. I just purchased my copy of this book today! I'd like to start some type of online forum for people who are interested in reading through it together and share their insights.

    I especially appreciated your prayer. It's brave and one I too must embrace.

    Miss you! :)

  2. Cathy, That is a great idea. Let me know. Sometimes I get dull to contemporary devotionals but this is truly a lovely book.

  3. Marcia:

    Thank you for writing these ten words that had a powerful impact on me:

    " willing to let God unveil God in my life..."




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