I was saved in February. There were no Christmas decorations up. No carols played on the stereo. Just me in my little bedroom under the eves offering my life to a Savior, in return for love. Grace.
There I sat crying and waiting. The moment was glorious and humbling. Full of expectation. Full of hope.
As a new Christian I lived in full anticipation that everyday Jesus would show up and doing something amazing in my life.
Last weekend we lit the Hope candle on our advent wreath in our home. When asked what hope means our six-year-old replied, “expecting the good things of God”.
Aw. Yes. Hope. Expecting the good things of God.
As we watched the hope candle flicker and dance in front our Christmas tree I was transported back to that little room where I first breathed in Christ.
Expecting the good things of God.
From where I was sitting, over the top of the advent wreath I could see the December calendar. A month full of preparation and celebrations loomed just on the other side of this sacred moment. Christmas parties, baking, shopping, family celebrations, decoration, church celebrations, visiting, wrapping, cooking, stress and more.
Planning was beginning to throw a shadow over my hope.
I closed my eyes and tried to focus on Jesus.
Her sweet angelic voice broke through the silence. Her face lit by candlelight and the tree, her beauty never shone so brightly. My daughter was singing Christmas carols.
For those that don’t know my daughter, let me catch you up. Whew. That child. She’s full of life, and drama. She puts on concerts and tosses a hat on the floor in case anyone wants to get rid of their extra coins. Often her singing and acting are ways of searching for the spotlight, the center of attention.
But this moment was not about her. Or us.
It was about Jesus.
In the warm glow of that room, Jesus was all around us. We were wrapped in His love and peace. And I couldn’t help but think of the smile on His face, as He received Isabel’s tiny offering of worship. Her good thing for God.
That moment has lingered in my memory all week. I’ve worked to get back to that place. To find that feeling because that, my friends, is Christmas. That feeling of warmth and peace. Of hope. Of celebrating the good things of God. Christmas is a celebration of hope. A celebration of God born man to touch our lives. To transform our hearts. To fulfill the promises of God – to embody the good things of God.
Jesus is our Hope.
Right now there are sales everywhere. Decorations are filling up every mantle and store window. The bell ringers and carols fill the air. We are here. The season of Christmas is upon us. And it is so easy to get caught up the trappings of “celebrating” Christmas.
It is so easy to let planning, and pleasing others begin to overshadow the sacred moments. As we strive for the bigger, flashier, more memorable holiday we strive to create the magic and mystery that arrived in a stable so long ago.
We don’t have to recreate Jesus. He’s here.
Allowing the moments of Jesus to unfold this season will radically alter your family, you…even Christmas itself.
What if we lived every moment of the next few weeks in full anticipation that Jesus was going to show up and do something amazing. As though it isn’t amazing enough that God became man and chose us from manger to cross unto eternity.
Standing in full knowledge that Jesus chose you before He drew his first earthly breath, what could you receive as a gift this year? What can you anticipate this season?
Search out those grace filled moments this December. Linger there where the world falls away and the good things of God fill the air around you.
Listen to the children caroling. Teenagers laughing. Inhale deeply the smell of fresh-baked cookies and Christmas trees. Sit with your family and share memories, plans or Scripture. Sing. Dance. Wrap gifts. Serve others. Smile at the cashier who is dealing with the Christmas chaos all day long.
Accept every moment as a gift from Jesus. And offer your thanks back to Him…as your good thing for Him.
My prayer for all of us over the next few weeks is that we can wake every morning filled with childlike anticipation of Christmas celebrations. That we will launch into every day ready to unwrap the gifts Jesus chose for us. That we truly celebrate this season of Hope. The season of celebrating the good things of God.