Shopping Machine

Christmas shopping with my wife scares me.  She is a kind and gentle woman from December 25th through November 30th of the following year.   December 1st, however, is another matter entirely.

During the Christmas season she flips an internal switch and becomes a laser-focused shopping machine bent on finding the perfect gifts for her loved ones.  She is relentless.  Tireless.  Unstoppable.  There is no way I can even begin to keep up.

For example, the other day we were walking into Target having a casual conversation when her inner Terminator came on-line.  I could almost hear the circuitry is her beautiful head buzzing to life.

“Uh oh,” I thought.  I’d seen this happen before.  The second we were inside, it was game on.

The next thing I know I’m getting dragged through the aisles like a fallen water-skier drowning behind a speedboat.  There would be no stopping, no browsing and certainly no bathroom breaks.  By the time we got to the dolls, I was ready to collapse in a sobbing, disheveled heap on the floor.

She dropped me like a bad habit at the Barbie aisle and went straight for a holiday doll.  I swear I saw some sort of infrared sensor pop out of her left eye scanning the box.  The last thing I remember was hearing the words, “I’ll be back” before she marched off in search of the next item on her list.

Okay, so maybe I made the part up about the infrared sensor popping out of her eye.  Maybe!  But her single-minded focus when it comes to finding gifts is no exaggeration.   After a day at the mall with her, I have to spend a couple of months in physical therapy just so I can function again.

I have to hand it to her though.  At the end of it all, she always finds incredible gifts at unbelievable prices for the people she loves.  Isn’t that just like Christmas?  An incredible gift at an unbelievable price for those who are loved.

I don’t know where you’re at spiritually this Christmas, but I can tell you there was a time in my life not that many holidays ago that I was far from God.   But what I didn’t understand at the time, is that God was never far from me.

You see, I was on God’s wish list – we all are – and like my wife, God was laser-focused on pursuing me and making me His.  Not in a pushy, domineering way, but patiently inviting and offering Himself to me.  He was tireless. His love interminable.  I couldn’t outrun Him, out-sin Him or outlast Him.   I soon understood why poet Francis Thompson called God the “Hound of Heaven.”

If Christmas is about anything, it’s about God’s persistent pursuit of each one of us.  Because we could never reach God, He came to earth to reach out to us.  As the Message translation of the Bible says, God “became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood.”  The infant Jesus was called Immanuel, God with us.

At Christmas we remember that He is still with us today, pursuing, wooing, and never giving up on the hope of a relationship with us.  Even if you don’t believe Him, He will never stop believing in you.

So celebrate this Christmas in your own way and enjoy the fun of the season, but don’t be surprised in the quiet moments after the gifts are opened, that you may sense that you are not alone and that you are loved.

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