#75 "What's It All About?"
December 5, 2006
"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." (Matthew 6: 33)
According to Garbage Magazine, Americans used 28,497,464 rolls and sheets of wrapping paper, 16,826,362 packages of tags and bows, 372,430,684 greeting cards, and 35,200,000 Christmas trees during the 1989 Christmas season. I can just imagine what the numbers are now. The National Retail Federation projects that $457.4 billion will be spent on the "winter holidays" -- including Christmas -- this year. What's it all about?
Chuck and I had mixed feelings this weekend as we were decorating our home for Christmas. We just weren't into it so much this year. As we pulled the boxes out of storage, I began to look at all that we've accumulated over the years. Mind you, I pitched a lot of it a few years ago. It's amazing how it grows again! Some of it was junk that ended up in a bag for either donation or the trash. Haven't decided yet. Other things held dear memories. Like a picture frame that I received from a homeless man one year when we were coordinating a shelter program. He was so proud of the gift that he gave me, even though I'm quite sure a certain snow globe store at Macomb Mall lost some money that year. There was "The Night Before Christmas" book that I read to my children each Christmas Eve before Chuck would read the Bible passages from Matthew or Luke. They're too old for that now, but maybe one day I'll read it for the grandkids. So I hung on to that one. As I was decorating the tree, I was able to look at ornaments made by my children when they were small. Those are precious to me. Paper ornaments with their pictures on them brought a smile to my face. Other ornaments have been gifts received from family and friends over the years. Those made me smile as well. These are important things; children, family, friends, my husband.
The space under my tree is empty. It is awaiting the brightly colored, ribboned packages that will soon be placed there. A part of me wishes that it could stay empty. The true meaning of what we celebrate is not found in those packages. The meaning is in the simple manger that I placed under the tree. The truth of the One who was born in a borrowed stable and was buried in a borrowed tomb. The truth of the One who was laid in a wooden manger and died on a wooden cross. This is what my heart is full of this year. The gift that God, my Father, gave to me, in His precious Son, Jesus Christ. I wish my tree would remain empty except for all of my children sitting around it, each one claiming Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
Maybe it's because I'm getting older. My husband hates when I say this, but I've lived more years of my life than I have left. Maybe it's because in the past month or so, I've been acutely aware and grieved over different people, problems and situations that have come across my path. In the last week alone, I've been asked to pray for sickness and disease, relationship restoration, people divorcing, people dying. There was one day where honestly, I told the Lord I didn't think I could pray for anyone else. It was sucking the life out of me. On Friday morning, it was pouring rain..literally beating against my windows while it was still dark and I was trying to pray and read the Word. I felt like there was just a blanket of evil over everything...Satan overcoming the world it would seem. Of course, when I focused on the Word, the voice of truth let me know that the world had not spun out of control and that God was still sovereign and in charge. Nevertheless, it still made all the Christmas trappings seem very meaningless to me.
So like the loving, wonderful Father that He is, my Abba sent His word to me right in the middle of my half- put- together Christmas tree and all my boxes. I pulled out a beautiful crystal frame in which I had placed a greeting card front a few years ago. I had forgotten about it. As it brought tears to my eyes, it brought peace to my heart. It reminded me "what this was all about" and I want to share it with you.
"If you look for me at Christmas, you won't need a special star - I'm no longer just in Bethlehem, I'm right there where you are. You may not be aware of Me amid the celebrations - You'll have to look beyond the stores and all the decorations. But if you take a moment from your list of things to do, and listen to your heart, you'll find I'm waiting there for you. You're the one I want to be with, you're the reason that I came, and you'll find Me in the stillness as I'm whispering your name. Love, Jesus."
That frame, with that simple message is my favorite decoration this year. If it were up to me, it would be the only one. But since I have children and they enjoy the decorations and the presents and the cookies, I will keep pressing on. But now my heart is filled with the answer to my question, "what's it all about?" I will find quiet moments and go to Calvary. And there I'll kneel with those who know the meaning of the manger, and find the Christ, this Christmas. I will praise the one who would one day be executed for my crime. That, my friend, is what it's all about!
May you find Christ this Christmas,
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