Christmas is right around the corner, and our house will be full of our children, their spouses and our three grandsons. To say that I am looking forward to Christmas, to having the whole family together, is a whopper of an understatement.
It makes me wonder if I’m anticipating Christmas to celebrate Jesus’s birth or to enjoy the family and blessings he has given me. Or both.
Pick up any Christmas devotional book and you’ll read challenges to keep Jesus at the center of your Christmas celebration. I get it. Our schedules can become overloaded this time of year making it a challenge to keep our focus where it belongs.
Christmas is not much different from any other time of the year when it comes to remembering Jesus. Yes, it is a very busy time. It has unique challenges, and it can be painful for those who have suffered or are remembering loss. Christmas has its lonely moments too. All the more reason to seek Jesus.
Maybe I’m over-simplifying, but my goal is to live each day – in December, January or June – in his presence and to his glory. I’m not always successful. I forget. I get distracted by my selfish desires. But I try.
Maybe I try too hard.
As is typical of our gracious God, living in his presence is about remembering what Jesus has already done for us rather than what we do to remind ourselves of him. Trust Jesus’s promises. Could it be as simple as that?
He knows that we are working, interacting with family and friends, and preparing for Christmas. He knows that we are dust, and that we can only concentrate on one task at a time. He knows, because he lived thirty three years on this earth, that it is difficult to manage life and stay close to God. He is our perfect example of a successful life, for he never did anything without being led by his Father.
I do my best to follow his example, but I often fail. I’m thankful that Jesus didn’t say, “I am with you on the days that begin with honest prayer and diligent Bible reading.” No, he simply said, “I am with you always.” I can ask him for help any time. I can talk to him, and he will always listen. Of course, reading the Bible and praying is a great way to start your day, and the way I begin most of mine. But even when I don’t, Jesus is with me.
Christmas is an intense time; spiritually, emotionally, and physically. Jesus will restore our peace, if we ask him. He is capable of giving us extra energy, if we ask him. Jesus will comfort us, if we ask him. Jesus will celebrate with us, if we ask him. He is with us. Always.
When my family celebrates Christmas, when we are full of good food and surrounded by gifts given in love, I will again be awestruck at the grace, generosity and love of God. I will marvel at God incarnate who was born to live among us, endured problems just like we do, showed us how to stay intimate with his Father, modeled an indestructible life, and died to save us from our sin.
I will remember, praise and thank Jesus while I am enjoying his blessings. He is with us. Christmas is the celebration of God with us.
What are you most looking forward to this Christmas?