Merry Christmas, my fellow December warriors!
Yes, we are indeed warriors because the holiday season is not for the faint of heart—it takes a brave warrior to drag out the dust-filled boxes from storage and thoroughly transform our homes into a Christmas wonderland all the while trying desperately not to get cranky when the brand new pre-lit Christmas tree lights don’t work (yes, this just happened. We spent hours of agony searching for the fuse. Fun times!), to survive the overcrowded malls and grocery stores, to navigate through the endless extra traffic with people angrily honking their horns, to seemlessly manage all the gift-purchasing and the stunning pinterest-worthy gift wrapping (my 8 year-old daughter can wrap better than me so unfortunately it’s gift bags for me), and to attend the countless Christmas gatherings with a platter of home-made holiday treats prepared in the wee hours of the morning.
On and on it goes and regardless of all my good intentions, I can so easily get sucked into the chaos of the season and loose my perspective. But somewhere in the middle of it all, these soft familiar strains quietly stir and beckon my heart:
All is Calm…All is Bright
Joy to the World
Oh, Come all ye Faithful, Joyful and Triumphant
Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men
Joy…Peace…and Love. Three beautiful words that eloquently sum up the spirit of Christmas, yet three beautiful words that I can wander so far from during this time of year. Oh, the irony of celebrating the birth of the Prince of Peace, but running and racing so hard that I miss the Joy, the Peace, and the Love of this holy season.
In thinking about this over the last few days, perhaps what has spoken to my heart the most is that when I choose to run ragged and spread myself too thin not only do I miss experiencing the JOY of the season but I also miss experiencing the OPPORTUNITY of the season—the opportunity to be a LIGHT and a source of HOPE to those around me.
If ever our world needed PEACE, JOY, HOPE and LOVE, it is now. Tension is at a fever pitch in our country. We can hardly turn on the news without scenes of bloodshed and terror gripping our hearts. We scroll through social media and see the hatred, divisiveness, and anger so viciously plaguing our land. Fear permeates our lives as we wonder what will happen next in our world.
And in the midst of the brokenness, we long for Emmanuel—God With Us, for He is the only One who can bring HOPE to our hurting world and PEACE to our weary souls.
Last night when the presidential debate ended and I made my way to bed, I couldn’t help but continue to think about the current state of our country and even our world with a heavy heart. All of a sudden, my errands didn’t seem so pressing and my Christmas cards and letter didn’t seem so urgent. What really resonated in my heart is how desperately this world needs Jesus and how vital it is for me to do my part to share His Love, His Joy, and His Peace to those around me.
After a restless night, I woke up this morning with a fresh perspective and a new outlook for the next eight days before Christmas. Instead of frantically preparing FOR Christmas, I will spend each day living the message OF Christmas in the following ways:
- Show LOVE. Recently, I purchased a Christmas book for my daughter called The Sparkle Box. The book is all about a family that looked for opportunities to help those in need around them. As they did each act of kindness, they would write it down on a little piece of paper and put it in a sparkle box under the tree. Then, on Christmas morning they would open up the box and read through the pieces of paper and offer it as a Christmas gift to Jesus. The book came with a sparkle box to be used during the Christmas season, and I have to say that seeing that sparkle box under our tree is a great message and reminder to not just see the needs of others but to DO something tangible to show God’s love to those around us.
- Spread JOY. With such unrest and negativity in the world right now, I am determined to be a source of joy. Instead of standing in the post office line with frustration written all over my face, I will strive to use it as an opportunity to converse with those around me. Rather than grumbling or complaining on social media, I will spread some joy by sharing what God is teaching me and posting fun stories and pictures of my family. And instead of fretting over all that must be done, I will put the cleaning aside and invite friends and family over to spend quality time together. The bottom line is if I want joy in the world, I must choose to spread it.
- Savor PEACE. What good are Christmas lights if we never stop to look? What good are the carols if we never take time to listen? What good is time with family if we are not fully present? What good is the manger if we never kneel and worship? Peace is found when we slow down and quiet our hearts to fully receive the wonder, the splendor, and the life-changing message of Christmas found in Isaiah 9:6:
For unto us a Child is born,
unto us a Son is given;
And the government shall be upon His shoulder,
And His name shall be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father
the Prince of Peace.