"I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year."
She came toward me bearing the beauty. It was an amaryllis in full bloom that looked like a bowl of peppermint lolipops, with its tall stalks and bright red and white flowers. "I just didn't know what to buy you," she said. "I sure hope you and your husband enjoy it. I thought it was so pretty."
That precious one's joy in giving melted my heart. Christmas gifts always dig deep into my soul's soil, for during the holidays, everyone has so many other people to think about and so much to do. Boxes of candy, gift cards, loaves of banana bread, homemade cookies, ties for my husband, necklaces for me, tins of popcorn, flowers, candles, cash, and anything and everything are received into our lives with a lot of loving thoughts. To us, each remembrance is a sweet sacrifice of self and finance.
We received the gift of the aforementioned Christmas amaryllis several years ago, and it remains very special to me, not only because of the lady whose grace and love gave the gift, but also, for its symbolism and its continual living message.
This very day, this very moment as I write, the pretty peppermint-like flower lives and speaks because of its symbolic nature. What was once a present of gratitude and fondness now means more to me than it ever has. The tall, pristine winter flower symbolizes pride and beauty, just as a rose symbolizes love. That message of the amaryllis is personal and moves my spirit. My own amaryllis became a symbol of my personal testimony of the spiritual conflict of true beauty and pride.
When I first learned about the amaryllis and discovered that it represents pride and beauty, the two ideas sounded worldly and humanistic, like a theme from a short story whose heroic, self-sufficient character teaches the value of human strength. But God refreshed my thoughts and gave me a personal message of Christ's strength and His hope for my own need.
Pure loveliness is Christ Himself. Jesus is beauty incarnate, and His beauty reaches far beyond our frail, worldly concept of outward appearance. Christ, in complete humility and sacrifice, divested himself of the glory of heaven, became a baby, grew up in a small, common village, and as a man and the Son of God, gave his life for our salvation by dying shamefully on a cross, then rose again for our justification, and now lives, sitting at the right hand of God, our Father, praying for us, always interceding on our behalves.
Jesus is true beauty. He is pure. He is noble. He is real. He is incomparable.
Pride is the opposite of true beautfy. It is anything raised above the knowledge of Jesus; i.e., whatever longs to function and/or achieve on its own. Pride is not pretty. It grieves the heart of God and makes me amazingly unattractive to Him. In heaven, Christ intercedes for me. And I know He prays that I will lose my miserable pride and gain His glorious beauty.
In constant awareness of my own need and humanity, I search continually in my heart for the loss of pride and the real image of Christmas, the King's beauty. Jesus, King of kings and Lord of lords, was born into this world, as a baby in a self-imposed state of utter humility, just for my need, my deliverance, and my redemption.
My search for inner beauty often leaves me disappointed. Oh, yes, Jesus lives in my heart. He is my life. My All in all. But my imperfect state of being yearns for the selfless love and giving up of self that comes with a deeper walk and a greater faith.
On my own I am hopelessly selfish. But, with His love, God has enlightened my thoughts and has given me a new gift of the hope of a holy life in which God will be pleased: the letting go of my own self and the reaching forward to Christmas beauty.
Christmas day, not only will I share joy and blessing and comfort with my family, but also, I will share with the Lord an awareness of Himself and His glory in light of Who He is alone and in light of who I am compared to Him and His almighty power and endless love.
And in God's endless love, together, we can all wholly rejoice. We can celebrate Christmas, the birthday of the one and only Savior of the world and of ourselves, despite whatever weakness or problem or burden we have. Yes, we rejoice because of Who Jesus is and His great love for us! May we all be overwhelmed by that amazing love and enjoy God's gift of life. Praise Him! Edify Him! Exalt His name! He is worthy of it, and He intends Christmas beauty and joy for you.
Regardless of pain, regardless of imperfection, regardless of situation, Christ is who He says He is. He is our Christmas beauty for all days and all times. And His love is always present with us. Soak in His comfort and peace. Breath in His love for you. Whisper His name with a grateful heart. And study His beauty, His loveliness, that was first revealed to us in the form of a tiny baby that was humbly born in an animals' stall.
"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him" (ICorinthians 2:9, NIV).
Christmas hath a darkness;
Brighter than the blazing noon;
Christmas hath a chillness
Warmer than the heat of June,
Christmas hath a beauty
Lovelier than the world can show:
For Christmas bringeth Jesus,
Brought for us so low.