I’d once met this man who nonchalantly told me this unforgettable story.
This story of how he’d picked up this painting at a yard sale.
And he hadn’t really thought it was worth that much —
so he’d hung the thing in mudroom hall, right where he shook off his rubber boots everyday and kneeled to pet his nuzzling pooch.
The man told me that too, how he’d picked up at the thrift store, these larger paintings in brassy Walmart frames and he’d hung them like they were impressive, right there, over the couch.
And he’d scrounged relentlessly through Sally Ann’s looking for better oiled canvases in better frames for that revered place right there over his off-tune piano.
That painting that he’d long ago found at that chintzy yard sale? That he’d relegated to the back hall with his rubber boots? Was an unknown masterpiece of a painting, a painting of one of the greats, worth hundreds of thousands — a painting that was worth all his attention.
A painting that gave him the greatest worth.
Turns out — If you don’t recognize the worth of the masterpiece you have — you can waste your life looking for more that doesn’t matter.
Yeah, that’s the story that comes tugging at me this time of year.
Because it turns out in the midst of any day, or the holidays, you can find yourself a bit overwhelmed and lost, you can find yourself valuing things that don’t really matter, and not valuing enough what matters most, and you can find yourself not knowing what’s worth it and what’s not?
Tell me I’m not alone?
Yeah, I can get ridiculously lost this time of year. I can buy this bad bill of goods about what this upcoming season of holidays is supposed to be about, what’s important enough for center stage — that turned out be pretty empty in the end.
I mean, it’s happened — I can get up caught up thinking November and December are about trying to jump through a million little Pinterest hoops—
And all my recipes end up looking like very bad science experiments gone wrong, and my crafty-decor looking like yeah, something you want to drop off at the thrift store as soon as you can, and frankly? I can waste my time looking for that more, trying to make, produce, perform, find that more — that ultimately doesn’t matter. That ultimately makes me feel a failure. Worthless.
But there’s a Word, this genuine Masterpiece, this Real Story, that reaches out on those days, the hard days, the holy-days, the holidays, and says, “You are not alone — Your messed up family, your wrestle to know what matters and what’s worth it? You are not alone. Let Me help you find your way back to who you really are… to what really matters… to your own worth.”
Turns out? I just have to open His Story, stay in His Story, stay in the stories from His Word, I just have to value the Real Worth of His Word, above all the other fake stuff this time of year, to know what really matters — to know what His Story says about my real worth, my kids’ real worth, so my kids’ know their real, unshakeable worth is in the Grand Love Story — not in the not-so-grand stuff.
So — that could be the intentional plan this year.
To make this intentional plan in November for December — this plan to open up the pages of a book that is like your own larger-than-life Advent Calendar, that tells His Story, right from the beginning of The Story, for every day Advent — much like opening the flaps of an Advent calendar counting down the days to Christmas, and finding an ornament that goes with every story —
To gather as a family each night and give the place of importance to what matters the most:
to read Story after Story from Jesus’ own family tree — and hang the ornaments from each Story on a little (or big or wide or tall) tree of our own, to make a masterpiece that’s called a Jesse Tree, a picture of Jesus’ own family tree —
Because this is the Masterpiece of all of History, The Story that will give us the gift of our real worth — the gift of how desperately we are loved by Him. To begin to tell The Story of Christmas — right from the beginning:
” In the beginning — is when this Story begins. Which is far better than a story beginning with any old “once upon a time.”
This story’s far better than the greatest fairy tale you’ve ever read — because this story is all true. And this story is our story — your story.
Your story starts with a kiss. The One Real God — the Father King of the whole universe, He kneeled close and closer, and closer, until His very breath breathed upon our skin and His life and love filled us warm and fully alive!
Your story begins with a kiss —
because your Father King knows the greatest gift that your heart really wants and needs is love — just to feel the safe, forever warmth of love.”
[~excerpt from the family read aloud edition: Unwrapping The Greatest Gift, A Family Celebration of Christmas]
What could we want more for us, for our families, than that this year — the gift of immeasurable love and worth?
So, yeah — let the first bit of Christmas start to happily ring its bells, turn up the holiday tunes, and let the holiday planning of The Greatest Christmas begin, and start setting up the tree. Because the thing is?
If we want our Christmas tree to really stand wondrous and not just fall over in a heap of worthlessness this year, the tree we really need to understand and be astonished by —
Because this is our story — your story.
The Real Story that tells us our Story, that tell us what really matters and Who really matters and what has ultimate value and what’s really worth it in life.
Because Jesus’ Story doesn’t cut off all the Big Cheaters, Bad Liars, Weasley Sneakers, the battling brothers, the fighting families and the broken hearted from His family tree (uh, yeah — know any messy families like this?).
Jesus makes families just like this — perfectly His!
“Jesus adopts all the messy people and all the broken people and all the imperfect people into His tree and His story and His heart, and He gives you His family name and His absolute happy perfectness and He makes you valuable, and He makes you a masterpiece and He makes you know your great worth (yeah, what kid’s heart doesn’t need that the most?).
Christ comes right to your Christmas tree and looks at your family tree and says, “I am your Rescuer and I will win you free from all the feelings of worthlessness, and not-enoughness, and brokenness and sinfulness and sadness and I’ll be the Gift, and I’ll take you. Will you take Me? Will you want Me?”
Who says yes to giving Him the most important place this season? Who doesn’t want to miss Jesus this year? [~excerpt from the family read aloud edition: Unwrapping The Greatest Gift, A Family Celebration of Christmas]
Because it could happen (ask me how I know) —
the part of the holidays that is worth the most, that is the real Masterpiece, that tells the Story of what really matters, that tells what you, your kids, the people you love, what they are really worth in God’s eyes — that Story could get relegated to a back corner, to an unimportant place, it could get forgotten.
It’s like a whisper of relief that you can hear already this time of year: “Come and don’t miss Jesus this year. You don’t want to miss Jesus this year. Come and don’t miss the greatest Masterpiece the world has ever known, come and don’t let anything make you and your family miss out on the Greatest Story Ever Told, that gives you, your kids, incomparable worth.
Come and don’t waste the wonder of the holidays on anything less than what really matters the most.”
Who wants Jesus the most?
Jesus in the manger’s feed trough who makes Himself bread for us who are so hungry — who feel an unspoken broken, a hidden worthlessness.
Jesus the Savior in swaddlings who rescues us from the blackness and confusion of what really matters, that we can’t get out of unless we hold our Jesus, Light of the World.
Jesus, who makes precisely what none of us can but what all of really want the most this year: a real Christmas.
Come unwrap all of HiStory, His-story, your Story — one story at a time, one ornament at a time, so that your Christmas this year for you and your family tells the most unbeatable, unstoppable, unfailing love story —
This is the Power of The Story.
His Good Book, His Story, the story we’re called to stay in — it’s like someone holding out a hand:
Come and be kissed by God and loved into the happily ever after and unwrap the greatest gift of the safest, warmest love you’ve ever known.
The masterpiece of His Story —
is The Way to really come Home this year for the holidays… to come Home to what’s real and what matters the most… what has the greatest worth —
and what gives us and those we love the greatest worth.
Related: All the Ornaments, for both adults & children that tell the story of our worth & His, that tell the Greatest Love Story Ever Told
Because every adult needs the wonder of Christmas for them again too: The NYT bestseller, The Greatest Gift, Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas
The Family Read Aloud Edition, for ages 4-94: Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas
Free gift tags, foldable boxes, Christmas scavenger hunts, colouring pages, to help Unwrap The Greatest Gift for both adults and kids
The Best Gift Ideas for this Christmas
* * * * * *
Q4U: How does/has this time of year made you feel worthless sometimes?
What’s your plan this year so that you don’t feel worthless, or like a failure — and so the people you love don’t try to find their worth in things, but in Him?
So tell us — we’re all ears — how do you feel about the holidays this year?
(Email and RSS Readers — Please, come join the conversation here? We’d love to hear your thoughts on the holidays…)