The holiday season provides a lot of time for fullness. Thanksgiving flows into Christmas and we can hardly remember what it felt like to have an empty stomach (or buttoned pants). The predominant theme of Christmas in the West is plenty. We have plenty. Presents spill out from under our Christmas trees. Our parties have food left over to last us into January. And we aren't the only ones who know what plenty feels like.
The Israelites knew what it meant to have plenty. After years of wilderness wandering, depending on God for their daily bread, God brought them to a land of abundance. No longer did they have to trust in new food every twenty four hours. It was there for the taking.
Yet, despite all of God's warnings to them to not forget his goodness in the land of the living, they did. And so do we.
The temptation when we are full on holiday cheer, or pumpkin pie, or presents upon presents is to forget the giver of every good thing (James 1:17). God knows how forgetful our wandering hearts can be, so he provides us with seasons of wanting and seasons of plenty. The ebbs of flows of a life lived in Christ are tangible reminders that this is not our home. Sometimes we have Christmas in abundance, sometimes we have Christmas in longing--but we always have God with us.
That was his promise to the Israelites as they entered the land flowing with milk and honey. He would not leave them, unless they forgot his goodness and his ways. Tragically they did. And he stripped them of this blessing. He brought them back to wanting as a punishment, but also as a reminder that he is the God who gives and takes away. He will not be worshiped for his gifts. He will be worshiped for his character. Unfortunately, we (like the Israelites) fail to see that character when we have good blessings flowing freely.
The challenge for all of us in Christmases of plenty is to forget the God who kept us in the Christmases of wanting. He hasn't changed. He is still there, giving good things to the very people who so often forget that no good thing comes to us apart from his loving hand (Is. 10:13).
Don't forget him this Christmas. In the longing and the feasting, he is God. Delight in the gifts he gives, absolutely. But don't forget the Giver they are pointing to. He is better.