I must have been somewhere in my early teens. I remember that she paused to enjoy the opening of stockings and then she hurried off to the kitchen to check the sausage breakfast casserole and boil water for more cocoa and coffee. We waited in the living room, admiring our gifts, sipping hot liquid from warm mugs. She pulled a stack of 8 plates from the cupboard and 8 forks from the drawer.
Every Christmas was the same…magical, special. And I knew they both worked so hard to make it that way. I knew that on Christmas Even both my parents stayed up late filling stockings and laying the gifts out under the tree. Then they got up early so that the Christmas lights would be glowing, candles would be shining, and hot chocolate would be waiting in the chipped, green tea pot.
As my eyes followed her to the kitchen, I wondered…”How will I ever do that for my kids someday? It would ruin Christmas to have to do all that work.”
This year, I got up early to make sure the cinnamon rolls were just right. I stirred the scrambled eggs non-stop to be sure they wouldn’t burn. The day before I had scrubbed and scrubbed so the house would shine. My husband and I had laid out the gifts together.
And it wasn’t a burden.
It’s wasn’t drudgery.
And my mind wandered back through all the years of Christmases and home, but my eyes saw it differently this time.
My mother wasn’t pouting in the kitchen all those years..she isn’t all these years. Her love for her family makes the work seem like a joy. The smiles, the wonder in our eyes, the happy laughter, the excitement so strong you can almost feel it pulsing through the air…those are the reward.
But the reason is love.
Love drives you to work for no reward.
Love drives you out of your way to make things special for someone else.
Love drives you to do for others simply to make them feel loved.
Each year this plays out so vividly for me at Christmas.
And I pause in wonder as I think of the excitement I feel looking forward to my time spent doing Advent each morning.
Because love makes work a joy.
And I wonder if I could find the joy in the harder things as well. In the extended times of prayer, in the fasting, in the giving up and giving out and giving over of my life for His glory.
Because love makes work a joy.
And we’ve all seen it to be true. I envy those of you with kids because I know you’ve seen this a hundred times more powerfully than I ever have.
“We love because He first loved us.”
1 John 4:19
We show love because we feel love and when we show love we feel love all the more. It’s a beautiful cycle that can spin forever, but you know deep down how easy it is to fall off.
But “This is love; not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”
1 John 4:10
And we have His blood not only covering our sins, but washing them away.
And we have His righteousness credited to our account.
What greater love can there be?
How could we not show love in return?
But even when we don’t love, He still does love.
Everything He does, is for us to see His love and His glory more so that we might desire to draw closer…so that we might love Him in return. And He’ll never fall off. And He’ll never stop loving because we keep falling off. He’s drawing us in with His love.
Will we let Him? Will we love Him?