When I was going through junior high and high school, I often mimicked my brother’s moves. He was older than me, which left me with the impression that he knew what he was doing in life. If he took choir in school, I signed up when it was my turn. If he played baseball, so did I. If he took German, I gave Spanish and French a wide berth and gravitated toward German.

Deciding to be a German student would lead me down an interesting course in my young life. The first of many joys that it brought me was a young lady named Kelly. She was in my first-year German class with me. Right away, I was in love. In my mind she was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. That is funny to think about now because, looking back, I cannot even remember what she looked like. I just know that I was really taken with her.

Never mind the fact that she was a year older than me; I decided to pour my heart out to her. I really wanted to impress her in my love note. So, I broke out a book I had never used: the thesaurus. I started trying to find a word for beautiful. Eventually, I settled on “pulchritude.” I wrote, “Your pulchritude baffles my mind.” To make a long story short, no, I did not get the girl, even with a $4-dollar word like “pulchritude.” I had tried my hardest to impress her, but she was less than impressed.

Lately, I have been thinking about a lot of things, such as God’s unremitting grace, the Christmas story and my efforts in life. The more familiar that I become with the birth of Christ and all the characters involved, the more aware I become of God’s grace. In that story, God chose to use people who were unqualified and often unworthy. It is almost like God gets a big kick out of using the most unexpected people to do the most unexpected things, like a virgin giving birth to a messiah.

All too often, I try to impress God, just like I tried to do with Kelly all those years ago. I think that if I keep all the rules, pray enough, preach a great sermon or work over my normal schedule, that God will be happy with me. However, the Christmas story is a constant reminder to me that God can use me just the way I am to make the world better. And, I do not have to flatter God to get God’s attention or love.

As we work our way through Advent to Christmas morning, I hope that you, too, will see the amazing things that God can do with you and that God loves you right now … no improvements necessary.

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