Tuesday, December 24, 2013


I see this hashtag a lot: #winning. Sometimes it accompanies a picture of a chocolate drizzled eclair cake, other times a bottle of unpasteurized green juice. Sometimes I see with an accomplishment: graduating, excellent latte art, a workout. Other times, it's a sarcastic celebration of spilled food or injury or a stupid comment. Whether used seriously or not, the idea of "winning" suggests a prize or an end and its attachment to anything reveals the implied "finish line". We "win" when we enjoy good gifts or make it to the top or get stronger and bigger or get fitter and skinnier or maintain neatness and health and wholeness and intelligence. We "win" when we don't screw up and we get everything right, all our t's crossed and i's dotted.

The new year is coming soon and people, myself included, are making their resolutions. Instead of resolutions, I make a list of goals. I'm a stay-at-home mom so no one hands me progress reports or gives me milestones to achieve. I set them myself and it helps me remember what is important to me and what I want to accomplish with my life. The goals I set determine my actions. I want to read my Bible every day, so I need to get up early. I want to clean up our food choices, so I need to plan my grocery trips strategically. I want to learn sign language, so I need to use nap time to my advantage. I set my sights on what I want and I gear my actions toward that end.

We can't know how to do life until we know what we're shooting for, until we know the end game and our goal and our why. We can't figure out our actions, our game plan, set eyes on our target, until we see the finish line and know what we're shooting for. What is real "winning"? What is the real prize, end, finish line? It is exceeding simple and complicated and altogether Christmas: man with God.

It started out that way, right? Adam and Eve, walking with God, talking with Him. No barriers of shame or fear. No anger or confusion. No one had to take a sick day or make custody arrangements. Just God and His children and love and joy. But then we broke it. Satan broke it. And now we're afraid and pissed off and trying to figure it out. We are orphaned from our Father and we hate Him but also want Him back and that makes us so terribly mad. Man with God -- we had that and we had it easy, but we broke it and all of history has been God moving to get that back.

The plan was so big and took thousands of years, but when it came, it came small. It came in the painful, bloody way we all come. It cried and needed diaper changes and fed from its mother's breast. The plan was a person, is a Person, will always be that Person. The plan was man with God, so with God, that God was man. One and the same, inhabiting the body, being the body. Feeling and hurting and thinking and walking on dusty roads with dirty feet, the same dirt He once used to form the men He walked amongst. The goal is so man with God that God became man to fulfill it.

And men die. We can spend our lives building our towers to God, trying to be with Him, but once your eighty years pass, you die and your tower crumbles. Men die, and God made man -- He died. The squirming, bloody, crying nursling hung and died, obediently bleeding as He cried out to His Father. But then He was alive. Christmas comes and He is born and praise the Lord, there is an Easter! Because man with God did not end with God as man. God as man was just the beginning and because He lives, we can once again achieve man with God.

I will be very happy if this is the year I finally start getting up early to exercise and read the Word. I will be very happy if this is the year that I finally create our household "binder" and read books with my husband and stick to a budget and a cleaning schedule. That would be great and not just because it means I'll get to check off all the little boxes on my chart. But I have only one goal this year (and every year): man with God. Because what once was and then broke was repaired again by a little baby. And the whole end of this is still man with God, me with my Father, you with your Father -- no anger or confusion or pain or brokenness. We have to know this is where we are going if we will ever figure out how to get there.

The miracle of the truth lives in how we get there. We set our eyes on man with God and we do not get there through our wealth or our intelligence or our health or our strong work ethic. We do not get there by crossing our t's and dotting our i's or being bigger or being smaller. We do not get there through a "what" but through a "who". Man with God is achieved by the God as man whom we serve. The baby born is our bridge to the Father and all we do is walk across. We don't have to walk in the straightest of lines. We don't have to race to be first. We don't really even have to walk there because it is God who delivers us home. If the end of it all is man with God, only one way will deliver and that way is Jesus.

#Winning on earth is a lot of things, and trust me, I love a good eclair cake like the rest of y'all. But #winning doesn't end here. Nothing ends here. And the end we're aiming for is higher, bigger, more than all we see here. If we're going to do this right, we have to set our sights right. If we're going to run the right race, we have to set our eyes on the right finish line. The finish line is a reconciliation, a beautiful adoptive homecoming when a Father welcomes His babies home, and everything, every day should move us in that direction. Our lockstep with Jesus, our service to Him, our shining light reflection of His love and His life carries us to where we need to go. We go on a walk in a garden, leave through the gate, visit a baby in a barn, watch a man die on a tree. And we sit and weep outside his tomb until the angel says, "Do not be afraid... for he has risen... Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead."

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