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Merry Christmas, Everyone!!
The Christmas carol O Holy Night is my favorite. I love how gently it reminds me that Jesus is Savior and King, and how it inspires me to worship Him. Not because I am subservient, but because I choose to give Him honor. Not because of what He has done for me, although I’m grateful and He’s certainly worthy of my best, but because of who He is. When I hear O Holy Night I picture what it would be like walking into the presence of Jesus; to feel the love that radiates from Him. I cannot think of anything more intimate or amazing than being in the presence of someone who loves me that much. When the lyric says “fall on your knees;” I see myself so overwhelmed by His love that I sink straight to my knees to adore Him.
This song reminds me the meaning of Christmas is love. Jesus’ immense and immeasurable love for us and our love for Him and our love for one another. Love that is patient. Love that is kind. Love that forgives and forgets. Love that encourages our best, and supports us when we’re floundering. It reminds me that Jesus values me. He believes in me, enough to sacrifice His life for mine. It reminds me to not grow weary, because there is always hope.
There are about a zillion versions of this song out there, give or take a trillion or two, but my favorite is when I heard Natalie Grant sing it live a few years ago. I cried. So did most of the people around me. I found a video of her singing it live, so I am sharing it with you. I hope it moves you as much as it moves me. So without further adieu here’s Natalie Grant singing O Holy Night. (PS…she opens the song slightly differently than you may have heard before).
Here are the lyrics to O Holy Night by John Sullivan Dwight, so you can sing along.
O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Saviour’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
‘Til He appear’d and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born;
O night divine, O night, O night Divine.
Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming,
Here come the wise men from Orient land.
The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friend.
He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King, Before Him lowly bend!
Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother;
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever,
His power and glory evermore proclaim.
His power and glory evermore proclaim.
Here are a few bonus versions for you, depending upon your musical tastes.
‘I Will Not Be Moved’ by Natalie Grant has been my theme song on and off since it was released. Take a gander:
Wayward child acting out….
I was a good kid for the most part. I was a tad mouthy and such but I generally did as I was told. I got good grades. I only got one detention in all of high school. I went to and liked church and youth group. I officially got saved at 16. Pretty good track record, huh? Yep. But then…I turned 17.
Something happened to me at 17 where I just LOATHED any sort of rule. I may have still obeyed most of the rules I was given, but in my heart anger had begun to build. I looked obedient but looks were deceiving. I was rebellious and becoming more and more bitter every day. While I still attended church and youth group and loved Jesus, I told God to take a hike. (Please don’t ask me how the 17 year old me thought she could separate the Son from the Father…I have no idea how she thought this was possible, but she did. She was weird and angry and borderline crazy. Anyway…) I saw God as the mean one just waiting for me to screw up, so he could cast me out. I hated His rules more than any others because of this lie I believed.
I went off to college planning to leave parental rules, Biblical law and every other regulation in the dust. I was FREE! Right? Wrong. I was so wrong. There were still rules and laws at the university level too. Dorm and campus rules. Michigan laws. The laws of gravity and motion. Oh and that God guy…He’s there too. Great.
It took 7 years before I realized I actually needed God. I missed church too. I came back to Him very broken and fully expecting to be treated poorly. I could go to heaven, but I’d be homeless there. I would be permitted to attend to church, but on a probationary period only. God wouldn’t actually like me, let alone love me. At best I expected to be tolerated, at worst severely punished. Maybe if I behaved perfectly I could earn my way back into His good graces. Maybe.
It’s grace I’m standing on…
Then I actually spent time with God and began to get to know who He really is. I learned that He was a creative genius who made the sky, trees and filled the earth with beauty. I saw that He was love. I learned that He was good and He doesn’t want a single person to perish. I learned that He had a good plan for my life, even still. Best of all, I learned that He never left me, not one time. He was with me when I walked out of His will and chose to go the world’s way. He was with me at the bar. He saw me make MANY dumb choices. He was with me when my first love and I broke each other’s hearts. He saw me graduate from college. He was with me when I got engaged to the wrong man. He was with me when I got sick. And through all of that, He loved me.
He loved me. Every. Single. Second. Of. Every. Single. Day. (“Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.” Jeremiah 31:3)
Then when I called out to Him, He opened His arms to me and welcomed me back. I didn’t have to beg or plead or beat myself up. I didn’t have to burn sacrifices on the altar or volunteer to lick anyone’s boots. I just had to call out. That was it. I wish I’d have understood about His grace before I spent nearly a decade trying to make up for all the crap I pulled. Lesson learned.
I will make mistakes…
I’ve come a long way from 17, but I’m by no means perfect. I will make mistakes. But my mistakes remind me that I need Him. My weaknesses are not a design flaw. Where I’m weak, He’s strong. We are a team, God and I. And that’s exactly what He wants from you too. Partnership. Relationship. He wants to love you and help you to succeed.
That’s why I will NOT be moved. I need Him. Every. Single. Second. Of. Every. Single. Day. I NEED HIM.
I’ll leave you with Psalm 107. This Psalm shows that no matter what kind of trouble you’ve gotten yourself into, cry out to God. He’s waiting for you to ask for His help. He’s waiting for you to tell Him you need Him. We all need Him because of Adam’s sin in the Garden. We’ve all inherited it. Jesus is the only cure.
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever. Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out! Tell others he has redeemed you from your enemies. For he has gathered the exiles from many lands, from east and west, from north and south.
Some wandered in the wilderness, lost and homeless. Hungry and thirsty, they nearly died. “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble, and he rescued them from their distress. He led them straight to safety, to a city where they could live. Let them praise the Lord for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them. For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.
Some sat in darkness and deepest gloom, imprisoned in iron chains of misery. They rebelled against the words of God, scorning the counsel of the Most High. That is why he broke them with hard labor; they fell, and no one was there to help them. “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He led them from the darkness and deepest gloom; he snapped their chains. Let them praise the Lord for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them. For he broke down their prison gates of bronze; he cut apart their bars of iron.
Some were fools; they rebelled and suffered for their sins. They couldn’t stand the thought of food, and they were knocking on death’s door. “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He sent out his word and healed them, snatching them from the door of death. Let them praise the Lord for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them. Let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving and sing joyfully about his glorious acts.
Some went off to sea in ships, plying the trade routes of the world. They, too, observed the Lord’s power in action, his impressive works on the deepest seas. He spoke, and the winds rose, stirring up the waves. Their ships were tossed to the heavens and plunged again to the depths; the sailors cringed in terror. They reeled and staggered like drunkards and were at their wits’ end. “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He calmed the storm to a whisper and stilled the waves. What a blessing was that stillness as he brought them safely into harbor! Let them praise the Lord for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them. Let them exalt him publicly before the congregation and before the leaders of the nation.
He changes rivers into deserts, and springs of water into dry, thirsty land. He turns the fruitful land into salty wastelands, because of the wickedness of those who live there. But he also turns deserts into pools of water, the dry land into springs of water. He brings the hungry to settle there and to build their cities. They sow their fields, plant their vineyards, and harvest their bumper crops. How he blesses them! They raise large families there, and their herds of livestock increase.
When they decrease in number and become impoverished through oppression, trouble, and sorrow, the Lord pours contempt on their princes, causing them to wander in trackless wastelands. But he rescues the poor from trouble and increases their families like flocks of sheep. The godly will see these things and be glad, while the wicked are struck silent. Those who are wise will take all this to heart; they will see in our history the faithful love of the Lord.”