Beauty surrounds us, but we usually need to be walking in a garden to know it - Rumi
I’ve often wondered what the neighbours thought when the Wise Men turned up with their entourage at Mary and Joseph’s temporary home where they were resting, after they had moved out of the stable, but before embarking on their journey home to Nazareth. I am sure there would have been a few curtains twitching there, if they had any! Just imagine the scene, fabulously rich men on exquisitely decorated camels, with servants, guards, trumpeters; a whole caravan of attendants. All quite out of place in this humble little village! And the gifts they were taking in to give to the baby! They were priceless! Gold, frankincense and myrrh. I doubt the villagers had ever seen such wealth.
That leads me to ask; what have you to give to Jesus, to God?
In 1872 Christina Rossetti, one of the finest English Victorian poets, considered that question in a poem that later became the well known carol In the bleak midwinter. She wrote:
What can I give Him,
Poor as I am? --
If I were a Shepherd
I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man
I would do my part, --
Yet what I can I give Him, --
Give my heart.
Give my heart? At first glance that sounds impossible since the heart is a muscle that pumps the life giving oxygenated blood around the body. Without it quite simply I would die so giving God my heart is really a big deal – I will die! But that was what she was suggesting; that the only gift she (we) could give to God was her (our) life sustaining heart. However, in his book You are the beloved Henri Nouwens reminds us that: In the biblical understanding, our heart is at the centre of our being. It’s not a muscle, but a symbol for the very centre of our being. The point to remember here is that everything we own, everything we are is a gift of God, and that includes our free will. It is this free will that can lead us away from what God wants for us; by tempting us with illusions of wealth, power and etc. By offering our heart to God we are effectively resisting that temptation by putting our old life behind us and starting anew on the path God has laid out for us. As Jesus said: ‘For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.’ Matthew 16:25 NIV. It is still quite a challenge and that path will not be easy but it will be so much more rewarding than continuing in the old way. And remember that God has promised that He will never leave us or forsake us. He will walk with us every step of the way; take comfort in that.
So, are you prepared to give your heart to God? And will the neighbours’ curtains twitch when you do so?
Peter is a father and a grandfather who has been retired from full time employment for a number of years