Here I sit, basking in the glow of the Christmas tree lights on a quiet early morning. The kiddos are still abed, the Hero has left for work, and a bird is singing outside the window. It is 4 days until Christmas and as I enjoy my coffee and breathe a sigh of relief at having finished the Christmas shopping, I begin to muse…
I have a confession to make. Although we have bought & decorated a tree, made & bought & wrapped gifts, sung carols, read the Christmas story and watched the Nutcracker ballet, I do not feel “Christmas-y.” Yes, here I sit on December 20th with everything except Christmas Spirit. I’ve tried manufacturing the peace & joy of the season by going through all the normal motions of preparation and tradition but I still don’t feel it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a Scrooge “bah humbugging” everything. I’m simply empty, hollow…perhaps even feeling dead inside. As though my heart needs a jolt from a Holy AED.
I don’t know that the feeling is altogether new or just related to Christmas, perhaps its been coming on for a while. Perhaps a dozen little factors have at last compiled and I’m feeling the effects. It hasn’t been a bad year…in fact, for the most part, its been great! Except for one thing. I’m soul-hungry. Somewhere in all that has gone on this year I stopped purposefully feeding my heart, nurturing the connection to the Life-giver and slowly my heart has slipped into unconsciousness, unresponsiveness.
In this (very) rare moment of quiet and solitude, I just want to sit and soak it in– the peace of this moment. I want it to permeate my soul, wash away all the shadows, turmoil, worries inside. But as a bubble bursts all too easily, I know– and perhaps even fear– that this feeling of peace will shatter as soon as small voices break the silence. The day will have to begin– meals & cleaning, conflict resolution & correction, Christmas preparations and everything else. (side note: my children are not the issue, they are merely the noise factor in this equation)
How does one hold to the peace of quiet, still solitude when surrounded by noise and activity…when unable to be physically still because the to-do list demands otherwise? How does one wake up a comatose heart and fill it with the wonder, joy, and peace of the celebration of Christmas– God’s gift of love beyond all we can imagine?
For me, today begins with a desperate 911 call to the Creator, Sustainor, Life-giver. The One who is Joy and Hope and Peace. The One who heals and revives hearts. The Babe in the manger, the Savior on the cross and the Father willing to sacrifice, to suffer so much out of love because He wants a relationship with us– with me.
In desperation to hear His voice, to feel revived, I begin to read…from scripture, from a devotional book. Suddenly, I am struck.
Revelation 3:1 I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive but you are dead.
“We live under Christ’s watchful eye. He isn’t looking to be sure we are busy, but to see that we are obedient to His Guiding Spirit. He watches not just to see what we are doing but looking at our hearts, also at why we are doing it” Henry & Richard Blackaby (emphasis mine)
1 Samuel 16:7 …for the Lord does not see as man sees, for man looks on the outward appearance but the Lord looks on the heart.
It is always about the heart, isn’t it? What you do and how you do it are less important than the why…the heart attitude and motivation behind it.
And the musings take a bit of a turn…
What does this have to do with Christmas?
Christmas in our house is a busy season. I love to fill the calendar with special events and activities for my kiddos. We bake treats and decorate gingerbread, play with fake snow, make gifts and set up our Christmas village. While I will admit that some of our past projects have been a little too ambitious, not a single one has been bad or sinful. But what about the heart? Why do all the activities, the crafts…because that is how Christmas is “done”? To impress others with my planning, organization, craftiness, and talented children? To win the Pinterest-mother-of-the-year award? Hmm…
What if…what if we just got back to the heart?
I’m coming back to the heart of worship,
And its all about You, all about You, Jesus,
I’m sorry, Lord, for the thing I’ve made it,
When its all about You, its all about You, Jesus.
What if our focus changed. Forget the trappings of Christmas and just worship. Worship with all of our hearts a Savior willing to sacrifice everything out of love for us. Could we maybe get less caught up in perfect decorations, stunning party food, and blow-their-socks-off presents and instead got caught up in the overwhelming realization of the depth of God’s love for us?
I can’t speak for anyone else but I know that this is a season that gets busy, overscheduled, stressful and tiring no matter how much I hope and plan to make it otherwise. And it is so very easy to miss Christ in Christmas. No matter how many times we parrot “Jesus is the reason for the season!” The words become part of the routine, the habit, what we do not the why behind it.
Sometimes, just sometimes, I feel like we all are in preparation for the biggest party of the year. Months of preparation and planning. Countless hours on Pinterest choosing just the right DIY tablescape. Multiple shopping trips looking for just. the. right. gift. Not to mention the menu planning.
At last, it is time for the party…the guests arrive and are suitably awed by our decorations. The food is delicious…everyone raves. Each gift is spot-on perfection. In fact, the party is so stunning, so grand that no one notices what is missing.
The guest of honor has been left outside.
Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hear my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him and he with Me.
What good news! He doesn’t go home brokenhearted about being left out of His own party. He stands, waits, ready to come in. He even knocks, calling to us, wanting us to experience the fullness of the celebration– the joy only He brings.
Whatever you do the Christmas…tree or no tree…Griswold-style decorations or none at all…40 types of Christmas treats, or 1, or none…gifts, no gifts…keeping tradition, skipping them or making new ones…whatever floats your boat, whatever works for you. But do this one thing: OPEN THE DOOR.
Let Christ in to your Christmas. Let all your doing be motivated by a heart full of praise. Let this be a season of worship. After all, what are we celebrating but our great God and His great Gift of Love to us? The Babe in the manger who became the Savior on the cross and the Father willing to sacrifice, to suffer so much out of love because He wants a relationship with us. Because He wants to come in and dine (fellowship) with us. Sin closed the door, Jesus unlocked it but the last part is up to us.
Just open the door.