This Christmas. Wow.
Despite my best efforts, it’s been madness and stress already.
Despite my best efforts, there have been tears and fights.
Despite my best efforts, gifts fell through and budget was lacking.
Despite my best efforts, holiday outings were rare and RAK giving eluded me.
Despite my best efforts, the year flew by and my kids are approaching teen hood FAST.
But in spite of everything I have botched up without even realizing it, and some things where I took the time to be as ugly as I was, it’s still Christmas.
And in spite of all my sin, God has patiently, lovingly and unceasingly reminded me, taught me in great depth, what He did for me.
As Christians, we tend to think of Christmas as a time of great joy and celebration, for the birth of a baby. We think of the happiness of when our own kids were born, or the excitement as we welcome a new baby into our lives or families.
This year, though, I was enlightened to the fact of how very VERY difficult it must have been for Jesus to step down from the comfort and joy of heaven, where He ruled as Prince of Peace, and step into our world as a poor, young 1st century Jew.
I mean, do you REALLY get this?
Because I never really saw Christmas that clearly. I heard it said that the Nativity was really a time of sadness for Him. Helpless as a baby, poor as a man, confined to a body and choosing not to use His own gifts for Himself, but only for others 100% of the time.
He starved on that mountain when Satan tempted Him.
He wept when His friends died.
He hurt when Judas betrayed Him.
He sweat actual blood as He awaited torture, slow death, separation from His Father, and the burden of bearing the sin of every worthless-but-totally-loved human that ever accepted His gift, and then even said, “Thy will be done” when He knew it was the right choice.
And, while 33 years is a blink in the eye of God, HERE He was constrained by the limitations of a body and of time and 3 dimensions, while His was still the mind of God. In this body, maybe those years felt a lot longer.
And if so, the crucifixion must have felt like an eternity, especially when God turned away.
But that’s not all there is to Christmas. It’s not just the birth to death of the Man of sorrows.
It’s also the hope, love, the eternal light at the end of our earthly tunnel, the shining Star of love at the top of our tree.
For He came, and He rose, and He did it for us. He came into this world, for all the people of this world and it cost Him dearly.
And this, dear friends, is the price He paid for our joy. We owe Him not just our repentance, existence, and everything, we owe Him our joy. Why?
This week, at our new church, the pastor said that if you’re looking for unconditional love in your husband, your wife, or anyone else, for that matter, you will be disappointed and hurt.
But there IS unconditional love, and it can only be found in one Person.
For that, we who have found Him need to move past our guilt, our condemnation, our holiday struggles and 1st world problems and embrace this improbable, undeserved, incomparable, and heart-stoppingly amazing gift of unconditional love, ultimate sacrifice and undeserved grace with sheer joy.
Joy, Unspeakable Joy
Jesus was born to fulfill the will of His Father, yes, but also to ransom us, to love us, to hold us firmly into eternity, so that all that believe and follow Him can meet Him someday. He tenderly and skillfully loved His followers, and us too – read John 17:20-26 to see.
He loves you and will be with you, from the moment your heart embraces Him, through all of eternity.
So, I wish you a Merry Christmas and pray that you will see God’s heart this season, that it may remove away all the pain, the disappointment, the loneliness, the anguish, in your life.
Come and see what God has done! Amen!