At first totally overwhelmed and anxious about the expectations, my own and other’s, I am now in a different place altogether. I have prayed for a clearer purpose in these times. I’ve listened, and read and commiserated with others about the strain of the season that seems a thief of the joy and purpose.
Whenever Christmas begins to burden, it’s a sign that I’ve taken on something of the world and not of Christ. Ann Voskamp
And isn’t that true about every day and every season?
In recent days, my spirit has been renewed, because I choose differently than the past, or what the world would have me choose. I let go of many things, and don’t miss them, because they miss the point. Our culture marks this season as a time of conflicting purposes. So I dig for the part that is of Christ, not the part that is plastered on a card or set up in a town square for the moment, or hanging from a wall, or blasted through my senses by the media, but the part that is present every day. The part about our Father giving us the greatest gift of all. The part about the gift chosen carefully, just for us, our lasting-through-all-eternity Gift.It is in this digging that I have rediscovered the joy.
This week, as a gift-giver, I have measured and poured, kneaded and waited and returned to the working of dough many times. The house has filled with the scent of this labor. I have a list, that I check (more than twice!) to be sure that no one is forgotten. All this because I have been given an opportunity to show my gratitude and love for those I work with. It’s a privilege to remind them they are cared for and noticed and appreciated. In the giving, God reminds my heart of the net of support He has cast around me in family and friends and coworkers.
At home, the boxes in the closet pile up. Each day a new arrival on the porch gets carried inside, and I check and smile and take pleasure in the anticipation that their contents will fill a need or bring a smile to the receiver—the gifting being an affirmation of parental love.
Through this, He reminds me of all that comes before and goes on during gift-giving.
Long ago, such planning occurred—each detail laid down, each precursor unfolding at just the right moment to keep the path unbroken to the cross. He reminds me of the Gift He laid between the loving arms of those chosen to protect it, to hold it until the time was right.
Such tender love and mercy was woven through each stage of preparation. Surely He must have been eager and excited, bursting with anticipation as He measured and poured and kneaded His people. As He read our souls, forward in time and back, He knew exactly what we needed, what would make the perfect gift. Like one who drops hints along the way because they take joy in the opportunities to remind us “I’m thinking of you…I have something great planned…You’re going to love this!….Wait and see—it’s coming!…”, He sent His messengers to reassure us of His great love and what was coming. Who was coming.
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder, and his name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty god, Evelasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6
“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people, and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David, as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old…” Luke 1:68ff
Behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people, for to you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord! Luke2:10
So rather than feel the burden of a world-imposed routine, I choose to return to God’s reminders and pour over His scrapbook of holy words that allow me to revisit the Greatest Gift of all. In each moment, in each lyric that spills from my lips, in each purchase or event, in each preparation, I will challenge myself to be deliberate in digging for the part that is Christ, in this season and in all.
Blessings be upon you in this time and always. May you daily rekindle your hearts with the reminder of God’s deep love and perfect plan.