The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas, by Ann Voskamp, author of the best-selling One Thousand Gifts. It shows gloved hands gently holding an intricately cut Christmas ornament. The words in this book are like that intricately cut Christmas ornament - delicate and inspiring. They are words reminding us to be still and experience His full love for us during this season where the celebration of His birth is often overshadowed and silenced by the rush of decorating, purchasing, wrapping, baking, and visiting.
Although I was unable to read this book as intended, in daily doses across the 25 days of December leading up to and bringing the ultimate day of Christmas, it was still a blessing. Voskamp takes a different Bible passage for each day and illuminates a lesson for the anticipation of Christmas. The stories are not all merely devoted to the birth of Christ. She delves into stories of Abraham and Sarah, Rahab, Moses, Ruth, King David, and Jonah, among others. All of the stories carry telling messages of God's love for His people and His gift of new life. In addition to the Bible passages, and the brief devotionals, the author provides activities to enrich each day and thoughtful questions to journal through. Although I didn't participate in the activities or journaling parts of this process, I can see how this might benefit someone reading through this book in the way it was intended.
My only quibble, which seems unfair actually, was that at times the words were just too flowery, too intricately carved. I guess I wanted the words to be more straight-forward and less decorative. Still, I found several passages which bear repeating and recording for future thought:
"When you are brave, you give yourself the gift of facing and touching the torn places. The places where we're torn to pieces can be thin places where we touch the peace of God. Joseph touches his thin place ... and sees through: 'You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good.' What was intended to tear you apart, God intends to set you apart."
"That is always the secret to abundant life: to believe that God is where you doubt He can be."
"No personal choice that muddled your life can ever trump the divine choice to wash your life clean."
"You aren't equipped for life until you realize you aren't equipped for life.... In that moment of realizing your limitations, your short-comings, your inescapable sins, all that you aren't - in that moment of surrendered lack, you're given the gift you'd receive no other way: the gracious hand of an unlimited God."
Those words spoke to me and ministered to some need within my heart. I'm sure that any reader can find the words they are needing to hear within this small Advent devotional. If you are looking for a book to help you herald in the coming of our Messiah, then you might pick up this little devotional by Ann Voskamp for yourself. If you choose to check it out from the library, as I did, then be prepared to read it in a shorter space of time because the hold list will probably be as long at your library as it was at mine.