As I was writing about my family’s homemade Christmas gifts from this year, I went back through my blog and reminded myself what I’d previously written about this holiday tradition. I do this from time to time just to make sure I’m not writing the exact same thing. (There are only a handful of adjectives for amazing and awesome.)
As I was re-familiarizing myself with these blog posts of old, I came across my gift from 5 years ago. It was a devotional journal entitled, “Hear My Whisper” – a collection of letters, photos, journal writings, quotes, and scripture that I had hoarded…er…saved since I was a kid.
I organized these meaningful keepsakes into a journal that put my faith directly in the spotlight. Love and gratitude are standing in the shadows.
The wonderfully great irony of this story: The journal keeps coming up in conversation. Most recently, it was the topic of conversation during a one-on-one discipleship that I’m leading.
I think God has been tapping me on the shoulder and encouraging me to read back through it.
So I did!
But as I was flipping through the worn pages, God did more than tap. He gave me a loving punch to the face and inspired me to share the letter that laid the foundation for the entire book.
So without further ado…here is a personal guided tour behind my “life curtain” – a blueprint that allows me to live a bold and adventurous life:
Dear family and friends,
This has to be the most selfish AND selfless gift that I have ever given to anyone. I have combined old letters, entries from journals, photos, quotes, and scripture to create this daily devotional and inspirational journal.
The only agenda I have with this gift is to share my relationship with Jesus Christ. If you are reading this introduction letter, that means you are a person that I care about very deeply. It is important to me that you know – without a doubt in your mind or in your heart – that I have accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.
“Whoa, Drew! We don’t talk like that in this family!”
I know we don’t. My prayer is that this journal helps start that conversation.
“I HATE it when people shove religion and God down my throat!”
No shoving – I promise. I just want to share. Whether you listen – or read in this case – is completely up to you. I’m not going to call you every morning and ask, “Did you read your devotional today?” I’m not going to get upset if I find it buried underneath a stack of old magazines at your house. I’m not going to argue with you and get mad if you think this gift is stupid.
I just want to share.
When I was in college, I opened my heart to Jesus. A girlfriend of mine shared with me her spiritual beliefs, which slightly cracked the door to my faith. (I actually remember getting very angry and defensive.)
To keep the “door” metaphor going – it was a few weeks later at church when God completely kicked that door in.
It was during a baptism ceremony and the pastor reminded the congregation, “You don’t have to be baptized to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. You don’t have to sign a piece of paper or stand up and announce it at the top of the lungs. You’re more than welcome to do that,” he said, “but all it takes is for you to open up your heart – you can do it sitting right where you are today – and acknowledge and give thanks that God sent his only Son to die on the cross for our sins.”
Since that day, my spiritual relationship with Christ has continued to grow through church, bible studies, fellowships groups, and prayer. This Christmas gift represents the pinnacle of my faith to this point in my life. God has given me the strength, courage, confidence, and wisdom to share this incredible relationship with you.
There was a time in my life where I couldn’t AND wouldn’t have done this.
I’m proud of my relationship with Jesus Christ, and I want YOU to know that if something happens to me, and I’m taken from this earth, that I’m going to spend eternity in heaven.
This is where this gift gets “selfish” – I want to know whether the people that I love are going to be there, too. You may have a wonderful relationship with Christ, but I want to know about it. If something happens to you, I want to be able to stand up at your funeral and say, “They are in heaven, because I know without a doubt in my heart they had a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ.”
There are members of our extended family that have passed away under a cloud of spiritual uncertainty. I don’t know – without a doubt in my heart – whether they’re in heaven or not. I would like to think that they are – and I pray that I’m right – but I don’t know for sure. They never shared their spiritual beliefs and faith with me.
This hurts my heart for two reasons. First, I won’t know until I’m in heaven, which will be too late. Secondly, I feel guilty that I didn’t give this Christmas gift years ago and start the conversation with every person that I have ever loved.
Selfishly, I couldn’t wait any longer to know where YOU stand. My prayer is that this Christmas gift is as much a present to me as it is to each one of you.