In two weeks we’ll have what we’ve been looking forward to for a long, long while: a new year. If ever there was a year that demanded a do-over, 2020 is at the top of the list. I understand. It’s been a lot.
Though tempting, let’s not be so quick to put the year behind us. Between now and then, we have fourteen days to make the most of. That’s 336 hours or 20,160 minutes, and I don’t want to squander a single one of them. We can finish the year strong. And with Christmas just over a week away, our hearts and minds are already tendered toward what can make this possible, or rather, who can make this possible — Jesus.
Yet, isn’t it right about now when you can feel the panic of last-minute shopping, desperate to find the perfect gift for those remaining on your list? Maybe you’re already at the point where any gift will do. Shipping for online orders is at a premium. Department stores know this. It’s why they have entire spaces devoted to novelty gifts and gadgets you never knew existed (and no one actually needs).
Honestly, I struggle with the gift-giving part of Christmas. Not with gift-giving, per se, but with the commercialism and excess that often comes with it. While I absolutely delight in finding the perfect presents for the people I love, it’s easy to lose sight of Christ amidst the chaos. If only the tangle of tree lights was the lone Christmas trapping.
As I was praying about all of these things — ending this tumultuous year on a positive note and finding beautiful and meaningful ways to celebrate Christmas with my loved ones — the image of fruitcake came to mind.
Ummm, what in the world?
Fruitcake is a mystery to me. I’ve never understood its appeal. If I’m going to blow calories on cake, it’d better daggum well include chocolate or buttercream icing, not all manner of dried fruit and allspice.
But as much as I don’t like fruitcake, I knew it came to mind for a reason. I was sure God was leading my thoughts, and I just needed to follow.
Though fruitcake might not be mentioned in the Bible, fruit definitely is —
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV)
On the surface, this passage has nothing to do with Christmas, and yet, doesn’t it have everything to do with Christ? His incarnation ushered in the gospel, the good news a broken people were desperate to hear — good news we are desperate to hear.
It is in Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection that we find our hope.
God sent His one and only Son to accomplish what man failed to do — to live a holy, righteous, and perfect life without sin. Then, Jesus died the death we deserve because of our sin, enduring God’s wrath upon the cross and in so doing, assuring that we would be remembered, forgiven, and redeemed. He conquered sin and Satan and even death when He was raised three days later.
And when we put our faith and trust in Christ, He gives us all He has — He gives us Himself.
As daughters of God, we carry the good news of the gospel in us, and we have the privilege to impact the people around us by sharing it. As we approach the end of the year and look forward to the new one, what if our lives were characterized more by the fruit of the Spirit? A world with more love, more joy, more peace, more patience, more kindness, more goodness, more faithfulness, more gentleness, and more self-control would be a more beautiful world, indeed.
As the image of fruitcake lingers in my mind, I’m reminded that living the gospel is the way to make the most of the last fourteen days of this year, and just as lovely, the best way to begin 2021.
Thankfully, ending the year strong doesn’t depend on anything we can do but on what Jesus has already done. What a reason to celebrate!
Leave a Comment
Kellie Johnson says
Our Pastor just preached a 9 week sermon series on the Fruit of the Spirit. One week for each attribute. Our mid-week Bible study took each piece even deeper. I had the privilege to write some of the mid-week teaching and in preparation for it, I wondered how we could spend so much time on these words with few letters like love, joy and peace. It’s a passage of scripture so familiar to believers that at least for me, it’s easy to quote and move on. No big deal. But, that’s not true! I learned so much while studying and your post today points us all right back there again. He longs for us to reflect who He is and much of it is rooted right here in this passage. I love the visual of fruitcake and I’ll take that with me as I go. Thank you for this wonderful reminder and perspective of how good our God is.
Robin Dance says
Yes!! Whenever I’m preparing to lead (or write), I get so much more out of the lesson because I want to learn as much as I can to share. What a gift to be able to use your gifts as a member of your church body :). Familiarity may not breed contempt when it comes to scripture, but I think it can breed passivity or complacency, maybe. Because we’ve heard a particular passage so many times, we fail to dwell in it, soak in its depth, or consider how the Spirit might be leading us “now.” Anyway…thank you for taking time to comment! I know these days can be filled with Christmassy things, and I’m grateful you took time to read and share your thoughts. 🙂
Ruth Mills says
Amen & thank You Jesus for making this true! His mercies are new to every morning so we can finish 2020 strong & continue without missing a beat right into 2021 all because of Him! Greatest gift ever!!!
Robin Dance says
I love your enthusiasm, Ruth :). So glad you popped in and added your voice to our little (in)community this morning.
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
Robin we have to remember. That no matter what happened in 2020 all over the world. Most people want to see the back of it. Saved or not saved because of the Pandemic. Because of all the lockdowns ect. People loosing their jobs. People taking ill and getting Covid and Family’s loosing loved ones because of it. People not being allowed to see the older family loved ones because of it. Especially in their own homes and Nursing homes even in Hospital. Even if not to do with Covid they had to go into Hospital. It hard one them. Even more hard if it to do with Covid that they can’t go see their older loved ones in their own homes or Nursing Homes. Or if in Hospital even if there in it not because of Covid. They are the type of people or older folks of our family that need us more. It harder for them to sometimes understand why with all the rules from the top people have to obeyed. We as Family can’t visit them. Some get into their head their families don’t love them. They do they are obeying the rules. We phone them tell them we love them and we have to obey the rules from the top people to keep everyone safe. But it not the same to them. As seeing us in person. They do understand. They say why are you not visiting me. You say not allowed. They say but I allowed you it my home. It’s my room in Hospital. Or the bedroom in the Nursing Home. You say but Daddy or Mum your heart is breaking by saying all your saying to me. I am not just allowed. I do Love you. You can feel the tears coming down your cheeks. It the rules from the big people because of Covid. They are too old they still don’t understand what you are saying. But they say back to you. Your my child if you loved me please you come see me. That is all you here from them. You say I do love you. Then you hear them say again come visit me and show it. You then have to change the subject. When you get of the phone your heart is broken in two. What do you do. You know you can’t go. You have to stay strong. Take to Jesus in prayer say Jesus my heart is Breaking here. My loved on wants me to visit them. I can’t. Because the law will not let me because of Covid. For the time being. I hate all this. What it is doing to them not seeing me as I am their child. They are old. They don’t understand why I can’t visit them. They think I don’t love them. I do. It is breaking my heart. I am know I am going to have to remain strong in this. I have cried. When I hear their voices on the phone and I know they want me to visit them and I can’t. Like me with my favourite Aunt. But I know Jesus it must break your heart to see all the people you went to Calvary for and shed your blood for and know why you went there. Still walk away. Want nothing to do with you. You gave them the best present they could ever have that was yourself. They still walk away. That must break your heart Jesus. You Jesus remain strong. Not let it get to you. So help me remain strong to. Help us remain strong to. That after Covid I will get to see my Aunt. People like this will get to see their loved ones to. Jesus be with those who have nobody. Who loved one are all deceased. Who if in a Nursing Home only see the careers. If not saved will find you come to know you as their Saviour. Know they are not alone they have you by their side. Plus the careers they see every day. Lord be with those who live alone also stay strong. Know that they are not alone they have you. Plus Jesus be with the Homeless all over or land. Let pray 2021 is a better year. Thank you incourage for another excellent reading. Love Dawn Ferguson-Little xxx
Susan Orr says
Dawn, your words could have been mine- except I dont have your talent of written expression. Today I will try again to zoom with my mom. IF the assisted living facility sets it up. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. I have not been able to visit since March 13. She will turn 103 in January. Her memory is failing but she does recall over and over that her children are not there. We have the exact conversation you outlined: ” when are you coming, mom we cant because of the rules of the virus” I pray for her peace and comfort and ask others to do the same.
Thank you for sharing a familiar grief that so many share.
I keep reminding myself “He has a plan”. Please continue to pray for those who are so isolated.
Robin Dance says
Susan…Dawn…I’m praying for both of you after reading your words. May you receive all that God has for you in the midst of hard circumstances, and may His joy, love, peace, and wisdom bring you assurance.
Alleluïa! Jesus is the best gift to give and to receive. He knows best the person I’m sharing Him with. It’s such an honour to use those last 300 hours of 2020 to spread the good news as much as I can. Jesus is the Present everyone’s long to receive.
Come on Holy Spirit let’s start this day of pointing to The Way !
Thank you Robin for this post.
Robin Dance says
Ahhh…Kim– your prayer rhymed! That kinda made my day. Your enthusiasm is a joy :).
Lisa Jordan says
I love this: “As daughters of God, we carry the good news of the gospel in us, and we have the privilege to impact the people around us by sharing it.”
With so much holiday busyness and expectations being unmet by restrictions, it’s so easy to spiral in the other direction. But if we embrace those fruits of the spirit and lean into God, then we can shine His light to end this difficult year on a high note.
Margo Stretch says
Thank you Robin! I’m aware of many comments that simply sum 2020 up as ONLY a year that ‘sucked’. That gives me a twinge of remorse, that while I too have lived experience with the difficulties of all that this year has brought, I don’t want to dismiss it with contempt as a year to file away as a waste of time and worse. One way I want to finish this year well is in honouring the gift of this year, all that God has given me even and especially in a hard year. I don’t want to miss the value of 2020, as much as that might be obscured from our sight… Lord help me and my sisters in Christ see with that 20/20 vision your presence with us, and in hindsight (“kind-sight”… I don’t recall who said it but I love that word), may we agree that there were truly treasures in the darkness this year. Perhaps a way to kindly thank God for this year would be what a gentleman suggested online a few weeks back, by offering the question “What are 20 things you are exceedingly grateful for in 2020?” For those who sit with that question and a pen and paper, may the list even exceed 20.
Leslie McCarthy says
Loved this, thank you. And hey, I have a recipe for a white fruit cake that is yummy! 🙂
Sue Hansard says
Amen, again I say Amen! Very encouraging words for All of us who want everyone to know the peace and hope God sent to us through a baby! Thank you!
Jeannie Waters says
Thank you, Robin, for reminding us to finish strong with the fruit of the Spirit evident in our lives. Thanks to your article, when I see fruitcake, I’ll remember the challenge.
Beth Williams says
I’m with you on Christmas. Don’t like the commercialism of it all. Going from Halloween to buying for Christmas no mention of Thanksgiving till it gets here. Sure I want to get gifts for those I love. This year God sent me a new song that sums up Christmas: “It’s about the Cross” by Go Fish. It states that Christmas isn’t just about the traditional things like wise men, star, manger. It’s about the cross & my sin. It’s about how Jesus came to be born once so that we could be born again. That along with my favorite “Leaving Heaven” by Matthew West which talks about how much He loves us by leaving the splendor of Heaven to come to broken Earth to save us. Those songs sum up Christmas for me. Christ giving His only Son to die a horrible death my death for me.