December 3, 2003
Encouragement for Today
Under His Wings
"He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge." (Psalm 91:4)
An article in National Geographic several years ago provided an interesting picture of God's wings. After a forest fire in Yellowstone National Park, forest rangers began their trek up a mountain to assess the inferno's damage. At the base of a tree, one ranger found a bird literally petrified in ashes. Dismayed by the strange sight, the ranger knocked the bird over with a stick. To his amazement, three tiny chicks scurried from under their dead mother's wings. The loving mother, sensing the impending disaster, had carried her chicks to the base of the tree and gathered them under her wings. She could have flown to safety but had refused to abandon her babies. The blaze had descended upon her, scorching her small body. But the mother had remained steadfast - willing to die, so those under the cover of her wings would live.
God’s love is like that. The Apostle Paul describes this amazing love in I Corinthians 13 as he writes what is often called "The Love Chapter" of the Bible. Paul lists the attributes and actions of true love, promising that God’s love never fails. The word "fails" literally means "collapses, falls or disintegrates". In other words, true love – God’s love, does not collapse under the weight of testing. It doesn’t disintegrate when the pressure is on. Hard times and difficult circumstances are a certainty. But God’s love is more certain, standing strong and unconditional, against the onslaught of every fiery storm. Mother Teresa says it beautifully. "Love, to be real must cost! It must hurt and empty and empty us of self." This is a love that we cannot fully understand or completely explain in human terms.
Every year during the Christmas season, I find myself agonizing over some of the gifts I choose to give. Oh, not the ones for my family. I always know exactly what I want to get for them and often have trouble restraining myself from giving them too much. All year long, I make a mental list of possible gifts that my husband and children would enjoy so that when it comes time to actually buy the presents, I have more than enough gift options. It is these gifts of love that bring the most joy to me and to our family.
But it is the gifts of obligation that often produce sighs of frustration, frantic store hopping and a sense of anxiety during the holiday season. The difference in the two sets of gifts and the heart attitude behind them is really quite simple to understand. We can give without loving but we cannot love without giving.
God defined a relentless love for us when He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to earth as a baby. What an amazing gift! The love of God for you and for me compelled Jesus Christ to willingly exchange a throne for a manger, divinity for humanity and Heaven for Earth. It is a love that changes everything and everyone it touches. It is a love that protects and gives life. We cannot experience this love and ever be the same again. It is a gift beyond measure that surrounds us and covers us when the fire of life rains down. It is God’s love and the very reason for the season we call Christmas.
This year, celebrate Jesus. Celebrate the priceless gift of His life – His love – His presence. Then share that love with your family and friends. Give that love away to those who are unlovable. Love others in His name. Tell those who don’t know the Good News that He came for them. Look for opportunities to share Him this holiday season.
My prayer for today:
Father, thank you for your love. I simply cannot understand it but accept it as a free gift from Your heart. This Christmas, Lord, I want to share Your love with my family, my friends and whoever You place in my path. I choose to celebrate You, Father! Amen.
Find some time to get alone with God. Revel in His love. Go back over the last year – rejoicing in the evidences of His love for you. Record your thoughts in a journal, beginning a new tradition to repeat every Christmas. Share it with your family on Christmas Day.
When you think of God’s love what characteristics come to mind?
What difference does God’s love make in your daily life?
What are some tangible ways that you can share His love with your family?
How can you share His love with your neighbors during the Christmas season?
Why do you struggle with believing that God’s love for you is unconditional?
John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son. (NIV)
Acts 20:35 And I was a constant example to you in helping the poor; for I remembered the words of the Lord Jesus, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'" (NIV)
1 John 4: 8-10 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love to us: He sent his one and only Son into the world so that we could have life through him. This is what real love is: It is not our love for God; it is God's love for us in sending his Son to be the way to take away our sins. (NIV)
1 John 4: 16 And so we know the love that God has for us, and we trust that love. God is love. (NIV)
Romans 8:37-39 But in all these things we have full victory through God who showed his love for us. Yes, I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor ruling spirits, nothing now, nothing in the future, no powers, nothing above us, nothing below us, nor anything else in the whole world will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NIV)
The Sweetest Story Ever Told by Lysa TerKeurst
How to Improve Your Love Life by Mary Southerland http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/lovelifeset.html
Ultimate Makeover by Sharon Jaynes
P31 Woman Magazine by Proverbs 31 Ministries