Extravagance

christmas 2012 tree at double door zoom closeup  DSC_1660 (2)

image (c) Wendy Coy

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” – John 1:14 (NIV)

 

“It’s too much,” my husband said, shaking his head in that predictable “no” way of his. My shoulders drooped and I looked down, part dejected, part defiant as I imagined my gift idea withering, evaporating into the atmosphere. My friend was no better. “It puts people off,” she scolded. “They feel like they can’t measure up.”

This refrain was not new. As far back as elementary school I would hatch big plans. Like a hungry animal eyeing a tempting large morsel of food, I latched onto “THE” new idea — the bigger and better birthday gift, the glossy front cover of the school report (complete with hand-drawn illustrated cover); the roadside stand to sell my cherry tomatoes; whatever it was, every new notion captured my imagination and I could not let it go.

Here I was again, shamed and disappointed to see yet another brilliant proposal shot down. Yes, it cost more than it should have. Yes, it was “more” than we had agreed upon. But still, something niggled at the back of my brain. The thought refused to be silent. I couldn’t hear its words yet, but something…. Something wasn’t right.

Tired and frustrated, I resorted to friend therapy, dumping my resentment and defensiveness in a verbal garbage heap at my girlfriend’s feet. “He just doesn’t GET it!” I moaned, but at least some of the pain left.

All day, I muttered. A bit less intensely, but I muttered nevertheless. “I know I have to learn to do less, but what about generosity? What about abundance? They don’t understand!”

“No, they don’t,” a voice whispered. Wait… what? I knew that voice.

“Extravagance.”

Ahh, there it was. The word I was looking for, and coming from the Holy Spirit’s nudging, it had a holy overtone.

Unutterable, unfathomable abundance, more than I could ask or imagine. Heh. GOD spoke my language of lavish giving and huge schemes.

He didn’t skimp on creation (He made how many kinds of trees and leaves??); nor on the salvation story (“you want to save the whole world???”); nor even on the birth of Jesus (He sent an angel to Mary to tell her what?).

In fact, perhaps the first Christmas gift was His biggest coup. It was hidden, that’s all.

This God-gift, the Christ child, was born to a foreigner in an animal barn, but there were voices of angels, hints of glory. The biggest scheme in the universe unfolded, not watered down, not compromised. We didn’t see its grandeur until the resurrection, but oh, it was there, and even the stars in the universe sang in wonder.

Extravagance. God gave everything, a very part of Himself, to communicate His love. He cloaked it in humility so we wouldn’t be intimidated; He gave anonymously so we wouldn’t compare. But He gave in such huge measure that no one in the universe could trump His gift.

Extravagance. He didn’t mind the excess, and He wasn’t pressured to conform.

He got it. His language of giving was always big, if quiet. He knew I had bits of His image in there (“in the image of God He created them…”). He knew why the ideas took hold. He understood. His generosity leaped all over creation from the beginning of time, and He was not ashamed.

Smiling, I quietly put the castigated gift idea aside, bidding it goodbye. There would be other ideas, more appropriate ones. The Creator left a hint of His glory inside me, and the extravagant giver would not be silenced.

What hint of His glory has He placed in you and called to life? How is He being born anew in you this Christmas?

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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