Read: Matthew 9:36; Luke 15:11-32
For the past two weeks, we have been looking at the lives of David and Svea Flood who went to what is now known as Zaire. What a wondrous work God did through this couple. Even though Svea died young, the seed that God planted through her persistence and love yielded abundant fruit. However, her young husband David lived for decades in bitterness, believing that they had been abandoned by God. It took a miracle of God's providence for David Flood's heart to be softened, and thankfully, he died having once again, experienced God's grace.
The story is chronicled in the past two devotions, but as I pondered Christmas this year, I was reminded that most of us have people we love who like David Flood, are away from the Savior of Christmas. They might or might not be entrenched in bitterness. They might or might not have ever been in fellowship with the Lord through receiving Him, John 1:11-12; yet, our hearts are sad at this festive time because they don't share the joy we experience because of the truth that Jesus became flesh and dwelt among us, John 1:14. It is for these precious ones that I would like to share a Christmas card that I would love to send them. Not to worry, I won't try to do any computer drawing. Rather, may I describe the card I would like to send?
On the front of the card, Jesus is standing. The brilliant blue of the sky can be seen. He is ascending with His hands raised where His wounds from the nails can be readily seen. The clouds of glory surround Him, and above Him these words from John 14:1-3 are written in red lettering: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God;
believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”
In the lower part of the card, these words from the Steve and Annie Chapman song "Turn Your Heart Toward Home" are written in golden embossed writing:
"Turn Your Heart Toward Home
You've Been Gone So Long!
Please Don't Wait Too Long
Turn Your Heart Toward Home!"
When the card is opened, the left side contains a picture of the loved one, and the right side of the card contains the words of John 3:16 written in red. There is room on the card for the signatures of those who are praying with us for the loved one who is pictured.
So, how do we know that this simple card represents the heart of God? For one thing, in Luke 15 Jesus holds out the beautiful truth that God is seeking the lost. He is not standing afar off. Here we see three portraits of lost objects and people. Each one is valuable and important. Yes, to men, but more wondrous it is that Jesus wants us to know that these simple stories picture that God's heart is infinitely more tender toward people who are lost than either the religious leaders or we could have imagined. God is neither cold nor indifferent toward those who don't belong to Him. Of course, in truth, the entire Bible is one picture from Genesis to Revelation concerning man's need and God's outstretched love for us; however, the compassion for both of the sons in Luke 15:11-32 is especially beautiful. The grace the Father shows to both of His sons is beyond what the people of Jesus' day could fathom, and that is the same love the Savior has for our loved ones. So, as we look at another Christmas where we perhaps have seen no movement towards Jesus by the ones we love, might we be encouraged by thinking of the words of Romans 10:20. Yes, this verse speaks of God's love for the Gentiles as a whole, but doesn't this picture remind us of our precious ones who aren't seeking the Lord? The beauty is that the Lord is seeking them, and as we pray we are joining Him in this holy endeavor.
No, we probably can't send the Christmas card I have imagined here, but Jesus' atoning sacrifice on our behalf is a living Christmas card which He offers to all who will receive His gift of grace, Ephesians 2:8-9.
Lord, may this be the Christmas where our loved ones begin to understand both their need for You and Your love for them.