“Give My Heart”

Adoration of the Shepherds. Gerard van Honthorst. 1622. 

Merry Christmas, friends!
One of my favorite Christmas carols is “In the Bleak Midwinter.” I cherish its poetic form, its earnest melody, and the lyrics of sincerity and adoration. As I sang the song one late evening, with the glow of a candle dancing on my face, I felt struck by the final stanza::

“What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a Shepherd
I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man
I would do my part,
Yet what I can I give Him,
Give my heart.”

This stanza breathes humility. The narrator acknowledges her poverty, her unworthiness, her incapacity to give Christ a gift in comparison to what He had given her. She declares, “What can I give Him…?” At times, this question courses across my mind. I feel the need to furnish God with a reason to love me — whether through acts of goodness, aligning with moral standards, or reading scripture. While these acts are honoring, when approached from a place of insecurity and a fear of losing God’s favor, they can trap me in an exhausting struggle for perfection. At other times, I cannot commence past “poor as I am…” I feel trapped by my sin, my guilt, my lowliness. In a pit of woe and despair, I cannot believe that God would still call me “beloved.”

But Jesus did not see the Pharisees’ external works of good; He saw their intentions. Jesus did not ask Martha for food, for earthly comfort; He asked for her attention. He desired her heart


Our heart is shaped by what we focus on. What consumes our attention, what we ponder over and treasure. As Dane Ortland conveys in his book Gentle and Lowly, “Our heart is what defines and directs us. That is why Solomon tells us to “keep [the] heart with all vigilance, for from it flows springs of life” (Prov. 4:23). The heart is a matter of life… The heart drives all we do. It is who we are.” Therefore, to “give my heart” to Jesus means to surrender again the essence of who I am and what my eyes fixate on. To repeat, “Thou and thou only, first in my heart.” 

This Christmas, I want to experience what it means to “behold.” I want to sit at my Savior’s feet, as Mary did, with my sin, my pride, my despair laid in front of me, and fix my eyes on my Messiah. “Poor as I am,” I want to quietly adore Him. To Him, I “give my heart.” 

Happy Christmas. Viggo Johansen. Oil on Canvas. 1891. 

December Reads

Mansfield Park, Jane Austen

Rebecca, Daphne DuMaurier

A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens



It’s A Wonderful Life

How is your heart, this Christmas? What are your eyes fixing on? Let me know your thoughts by replying to this letter or commenting on the blog. I love to hear from you. And, if you would like to read my post on Advent entitled “Longing for Light,” follow this link

I pray you have a Christmas filled with comfort and light and are able to adore the One who has come to redeem us. 

"O Holy Night"
He knows our need,
Our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King!
Before him lowly bend! 

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