by Beth K. Vogt
Christmas is all about presents, isn't it?
Shove aside the tissue paper and wrapping paper, bows and ribbons that we use to wrap the presents tucked underneath our Christmas trees? You find yourself face-to-face with God's gracious gift to us, wrapped in the God-became-man-and-dwelt-among-us reality of his son, Jesus.
Emmanuel. God with us.
I've come to believe that God is a relationship-oriented God. When sin destroyed mankind's intimacy with Him, he established the way -- the Way -- back into fellowship with Him. Why? Because He values relatiohship.
One of God's most wonderful gifts to us -- one we can savor year-round -- is the gift of friendship. And I don't use the "gift" analogy lightly. Have you ever considered how becoming friends with someone is like unwrapping a gift?
There's the "oh, that's beautiful, I wonder what's hidden inside" stage. You meet someone and something -- their smile, their laugh, their welcoming way with words -- catches your eye and tugs at your heart. You think, "I like this person. I bet they'd be a fun friend."
There's the "oh, this is for me?" stage. You might swap phone numbers or email addresses or "like" each other on Facebook. Maybe make a date to meet for coffee. You begin to realize that maybe, just maybe, a friendship is beginning.
There's the "oh, wow, this is just what I wanted!" phase. You tear back the wrapping paper, pull out the tissue paper ... you know what I mean. You talk to each other. You listen to each other. You get to know each other. And slowly, slowly, you become friends.
Does every encounter with every person you meet become a deep friendship? No. Some people remain acquaintances. Some relationships -- dare I say it -- are returned because, well, they just don't fit right.
But when you find a true friend ... someone who believes in you when you don't ... someone who trusts you when you're losing faith in everything you've trusted ... that's a gift that borders on miraculous.
'Tis the season ... for presents. God's gift of love to us. Our wrapped and beribboned gifts to one another. But in the midst of all the fa-la-la-la and holly-jollying, don't overlook one of the best gifts we can ever receive: the gift of friendship.
And on that note: I thank God for this wonderful group of talented, loving women who encourage me with their creativity, who support me with their prayers, and who reflect God's image to me through their lives. Ponderers, you embody friendship to me in such a special, special way.
How have your friends been a gift from God to you this past year?