Read His Words Before Ours!
When I was growing up, Christmas was always my very favorite time of year. It was also my Daddy’s favorite season, and his excitement automatically spilled on us all. Christmas is still magical to me, even at the age of 28. Now, I also experience it through the eyes of my children, witnessing their wonder and curiosity, which increases my own anticipation.
While my love for Christmas hasn’t abated, my childhood naivety has. With my own aging has come the subsequent aging, and then passing, of so many with whom I celebrated Christmas as a child. The loss of these special people creates an undercurrent of grief and sadness when I think on Christmas. Add to this, the reality of being a mother of two and often falling prey to the lie I must be all things to all people in December. Here in the wake of hurry and loss, Christmas joy quickly wanes. What was once so tangible and easy as a child is complex and difficult to grasp as an adult.
Maybe you feel this way, too? Perhaps you’re grieving a loved one this Christmas. Or maybe, like many of your fellow sisters-in-Christ, you feel hurried and harried, busy and overwhelmed by all you feel you must do to make Christmas special.
You’re not alone!
Amazingly, in studying the first Christmas, we find a beautiful mystery experienced by all who welcomed the Savior.
And yet, it’s important to remember that those who welcomed Christ at the first Christmas battled their own churning chaos.
Jewish persecution ran high. Rome increasingly took more and more control of land, of taxes, of daughters as sex slaves, of food, and of morale, as Jews were pressed on all sides to serve the wealthy.
After 400 years of silence from any prophetic voice from Yahweh, the Lord God, it was easy for Jews to look around in fear at the swirl of chaos, wondering if joy had slipped away forever.
And finally, there were those who stood in direct opposition to a Messiah. King Herod certainly was not interested in welcoming a Newborn King, and so for him, there was no joy. Herod was bent on destroying Him so he could continue relying solely on himself, his own capabilities, and his own glory. Herod rejected the Savior, and the result was a complete lack of joy. He found only death, fear, and a reliance on self that never satisfied, but instead destroyed himself and others.
Do you find yourself reflecting Herod’s harried attempt to protect self and somehow attain happiness? Instead, does it feel like stress and hurry persistently steal away any elusive joy that might be found? What if our lack of joy reveals something about the focus of our hearts?
It’s shockingly easy to rely on ourselves to be the savior of the season as we purpose in our hearts to bake all the cookies,
watch all the Christmas movies,
attend all the parties,
complete all the shopping,
do all the crafts,
send out all the Christmas cards,
say “yes” to all the requests,
and decorate our home to the Pinterest max.
The chaos beckons with glitter and lights and peppermint drizzle,
while joy quietly waits to be delighted in.
If Christmas is feeling a bit more chaotic than cheery, is it time to consider that maybe self is the idol we’re trusting? Is it any wonder joy feels out of reach?
Scrolling all the way back to the beginning of time, when God spoke His voice into the mass of nothing, bringing forth all of everything, we find a God who delights in bringing His joyful presence into the chaos of emptiness.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Now the earth was formless and empty (…).”
From nothing, His voice filled the chaos, bringing forth a creation He delightedly declared “Good!”
“Then God said,’Let there be light,’ and there was light. God saw that the light was good (…)”.
(Genesis 1:3-4, emphasis mine)
As darkness drew nigh that first Christmas and one girl’s laboring screams filled the night, followed by the shrill cry of a newborn babe, delight was filling the dark once more. The very same Word was going forth from the Father once again.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1)
“I came from the Father and have come into the world.” (John 16:28)
His light was shining in the darkness as He Himself took on human flesh.
“The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.” (John 1:9)
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:4-5)
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us (…).” (John 1:14)
The Joy of Jesus had come to rescue His people,
drawing them out of eternal night into eternal day.
If your Christmas season is feeling heavy with sorrow and rising stress, cling to the same Living Hope around Whom angels and shepherds hovered as they welcomed the light of the world, and the Joy whose presence promised unending delight.
Our emptiness, our longings, our stress, and our sadness all point to our need for the fullness of God and our souls’ longing for Immanuel, God with us. As C.S. Lewis once said, “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”
Focus your eyes on that other world this Christmas, friend. With eyes of faith, see the One Who came to offer His life for you, His light in exchange for your darkness, and watch your Christmas joy surge and swell!
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!