Whilst visiting our daughter last year we hired a camper van to drive up the east coast of New Zealand’s beautiful South Island across the ferry to North Island and on to Auckland. The hire company gave us a guide book full of interesting information on the stunning sights we would experience on our adventure.
As we set off I became engrossed in the book, checking out the route and reading all about the rugged coastline where seals bask on the rocks, the dramatic volcanoes further inland and the breathtaking mountains and waterfalls – all of which we would be encountering. It sounded so exciting! Yet, only now and again did I pop my head up in response to my husband’s gasps of Wow!’ and ‘Look at that!’ and ‘That’s amazing - a snow-capped volcano suddenly appeared right in front of us as we turned that corner!’ And I would catch a fleeting glimpse of the volcano as we turned into the next hairpin bend and it disappeared behind us! Or I’d just manage to see the seals in the wing mirror playing in the sea that lapped the shore by the side of the road. Then I would quickly bury my head back in the book again. It took a while for me to realise how silly I was being … reading all about the natural beauty of New Zealand and gaining lots of knowledge, while my husband was simply enjoying it! He was experiencing God’s amazing creation all around us, entering in to it, soaking it up and totally loving it. The route was easy to follow … I put the book down … it could wait for another day! And I joined him in appreciating all that God had set before us.
Looking back, I can see how easy it is to fall into this trap – not just with God’s creation – but with God Himself. We can become absorbed in gaining knowledge about God and, as our text for today says, ‘leaning on our own understanding’ and, sadly, miss out on the peace and joy that comes from the relationship with Him.
At this time of year as we celebrate Jesus coming down into the mess of the world to make a way for mankind to be forgiven, healed and restored, a way back to that precious relationship with our Heavenly Father … may the wondrous Christmas story and its life-giving message of hope … not be just a story to us and to those we love and care about. May it not be denigrated to something we’ve heard many times and read and know all about.
Let’s ensure this Christmas that we truly have invited Jesus into our lives – right into the core of our lives, and are openly receiving all that He came to bring – His love and comfort, His forgiveness, peace and safety, His healing, restoration and redemption. For that is what the Lord Jesus considered it worth coming down from Heaven to Earth for – that we might truly experience His perfect peace and joy.
Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, I’m sorry for the times when I’ve sought head knowledge – perhaps even as a defence to truly inviting You into the hidden areas of my life where I really struggle. Thank You for coming down into the mess of the world. Please help me to allow You into the real issues of my life, and be open to experience Your love and comfort, Your forgiveness, Your peace and safety, Your healing, restoration and redemption, and to come to that place of true peace and joy in You. Amen.