“Let’s start at the very beginning…”

“Let’s start at the very beginning…”

As I get older, I find myself going back to the very beginning more often.

One of the basic truths God has been bringing back to me this year is the reality that I am a sinner. Not only that, but as Paul writes, the foremost of sinners (1 Tim 1:15).

As the proverbial “good girl” I have done all the right and good things. The harder, the better, so I thought.

In the process, I became enamored of my good deeds, patting myself on the back while outwardly giving God glory. I came to believe I was the author of my own story, the captain of my own ship.

But He is not fooled.

He knew that letting me live in this belief will bode no good for me.

So He sent me Anah.

Because I thought adopting a child would reinforce my “good girl” status, I did it. I did not enter into it with humility but pride, figuring that since I already had three great kids, I was up to the challenge.

Well, the joke is on me.

Not only was I not up to it, I failed miserably in it. For someone who prided herself on being good at most everything I tried, this defeat did not come easy.

But it was what I needed to break through that pride that had encased my heart. It was God’s good means to break me so that I can see how much I needed Him—and have always needed Him.

This year, the Gospel has a new meaning. As long as I view myself as worthy and good, I have no need for what He offers.

It is therefore actually a gift of God that He allows us to see our brokenness and deep-seated sin.

At first I thought I’d do better, try harder. I built up more human rules and standards rather than submit to this ugly fact. But these attempts only reinforced my guilt.

Yet this very thing—my awareness of my guilt—is the key to truly understanding the Gospel as Good News. I had to truly understand the bad news of my depravity, my helplessness, and my desperate plight.

Sometimes God allows us the privilege of suffering so that we might know this reality in a new light. At least it was for me.

This is what makes Christmas special for me this year. Paul precedes his personal commentary in 1 Tim 1:15 with this fact: Christ came into the world to save sinners. It is the very reason for His coming! He knew what I needed most desperately, and He gave Him to me…and you.

Do you also need to revisit the Gospel this year? It’s a very good place to start. In a time of merriment and joy, sometimes we don’t want to face the ugly truth. Who wants more bad news?

Yet perhaps it is seeing the darkness of our hearts that makes the coming of Christ shine all the brighter.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

The Best Advice Ever

The Best Advice Ever