In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. -1 John 4:9 (ESV)


We were hosting a guest at our kitchen table and gobbling fresh cookies for dessert when we all heard it:  a rustling in the cabinets. It was painfully obvious, and somewhat embarrassing, that we were not alone. A little critter had invited itself to dinner.

Pointing our smart phone flashlights into the dark cabinet, we saw nothing. But later that night, I set out a few glue traps.  This wasn't the first time I'd heard critters in my kitchen, so I knew just where to put them. I put one in the cabinet where the noise came from. I put another under the sink, near a spot I presumed they used to enter and exit.

The next morning, I felt victory. Two little critters were under my sink... stuck.

I bent down to remove them and felt a mix of emotions. They'd likely not survive the glue traps, and I felt guilty to be causing living things to see their last day. I'd make a horrible hunter. But, I was confident in my decision because I'd protected my family's food supply, particularly the dog treats which were obviously the mice's target. I had to remember it wasn't my job to keep baby mice warm and fed.

The mice unfortunately didn't survive. But, they became a powerful picture and warning sign of what we can easily fall into during the holidays. There's nothing wrong with exchanging gifts or hoping to get kissed under the mistletoe. There's great joy to be found in family traditions and ugly sweater party invitations. But, if we think we're going to find the source of deep love and true belonging in them, we're going to get stuck. We may even get trapped in sky-high debt, toxic relationships and emotional pain. We can't go looking for love in the wrong places, even at Christmas.

Christmas exists because God chose to be with us. He left His heavenly home to dwell in ours so those who believe can experience true love. With God, there's no need to sneak around. Unlike what our world offers, if we stick with Him, we won't ever get trapped.

Prayer: Father, show me any traps or areas where I'm stuck looking for belonging and love in the wrong places. Help me expeirence you as the source for what my heart needs.

Looking for more advent readings? Check out Unexpeced: 25 Advent Devotionals.


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