“As the Bread satisfies the hunger of the body, so this indwelling of Christ in us satisfies the hunger of the soul, until it becomes rested through and through.” The Sevenfold Secret
I remember it as it were today. It was the moment I anticipated after a busy week of preparing the house for Christmas. The tree, sparking with tiny lights, stood sentinel in its corner. Wreaths and swags of evergreens festooned doors and archways. Red plaid ribbons and ivy adorned brass sconces on either end of the room. Objects of beauty and sentiment, collected through the years, were set in their prescribed places. Gingerbread cookies, baking in the oven, scented the house. Familiar carols sounded from the CD (or was it record?!) player in the central hallway.
I settled into my livingroom chair to drink in the beauty of this perfect moment. On the table backing the sofa, my treasured silver crèche (from Jerusalem, no less!) caught my eye. It shimmered in the soft light: shepherds and wise men, sheep and camels placed strategically around the Holy Family. I focused on Mary and Joseph bending over the manger. It was then I noticed. Something was missing! You’ve probably guessed it. Baby Jesus!
The search through empty boxes and wads of tissue paper, provided ample time for my rueful reflection. It was just too close to the truth not to miss the unintentional object lesson. In the feverish crush of holiday activity – buying, wrapping, mailing presents, writing and sending cards, baking (and decorating) the annual Christmas cookies and, of course, greening the house – it was (and is!) all too easy to lose the focus of the true meaning of Christmas: God’s incomparable gift – Heaven come down – in the form of a baby. All too often He is the missing piece, so to speak, of the season.
I remember clearly the day, many years ago, that our young daughter, Kimberly, came to me and announced, “I asked Jesus into my heart. Did He come in?”
My heart skipped a beat as I wondered how to respond. This wasn’t quite how I pictured it. She is so young, I thought. How can she possibly understand such an abstract spiritual verity? I asked questions to test her understanding. She nodded earnestly as I attempted to state in the simplest terms how Jesus came to earth to die for our sins. . . to take them in our place. . . How one needed to admit ones sin and recognize ones need for Him.
“I know Mommy. I asked Him last night while you and David were talking. Do you think maybe He didn’t hear? Did Jesus come into my heart when I asked Him?”
How could I deny her the satisfaction of acknowledging what was, however limited, the beginning of a process? She was responding fully to the amount of light she had been given.
Later that evening, when Dave returned from his meeting, I told him that Kimberly was in bed but that she wanted to tell him something. A wide-eyed Kimber told her father what had transpired.
“What does it mean to have Jesus in your heart?” he queried.
“Well, Jesus forgives my sins,” she answered, “and He will help me do what I can’t do by myself.”
Lilias, in her book The Sevenfold Secret, presented the essentials of the Christian faith to the Sufi Mystics. In her effort to convey eternal verities to these “seekers of the way” she took each of Jesus’ “I Am’s” from the Gospel of John and found their correlation to the “secrets” they sought in their spiritual pilgrimage. In the chapter, “The Secret of Satisfaction” she related Jesus’ claim: “I am the living Bread that came down from heaven” elaborating: “In daily life we all need bread. It is needed by the gray-haired and the children, by the rich man in his castle and by the poor man in his tent, in all lands and in all ages. So Christ came to satisfy the spiritual needs of every race and of every period of time. He is called in prophecy ‘The Desire of all nations’ and though you do not yet understand it, He Himself is your desire, my brother, for you seek after your alloted portion in the fullness of God, and ‘in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.’ All the longings of your heart after light and love and life can be met by opening your heart and letting Him in.”
Yes, He does forgive our sins. And He continues to live within us – through His Spirit – helping us to do what we cannot do by ourselves.
Thou didst leave Thy throne and Thy kingly crown
When Thou camest to earth for me;
But in Bethlehem’s home there was found no room
For Thy holy nativity.
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus
There is room in my heart for thee!