When I was a child, it seemed like forever for the next Christmas to get here. Now, as an adult, when Christmas approaches, it seems like I just finished last year’s Christmas activities. Actually, the truth is, I just finished paying for last year’s Christmas activities.
So, now it’s Christmastime again, and I’m already tired just thinking about it. Frankly, I’m tired, period. I’m sure I’m not alone. The last months of the year are always busy. For me, there are speaking engagements, seminars, conferences, planning for next year’s events, family activities, and church events. Even as we head into the Christmas season, I find myself drained.
There’s tension in my home because I am the only one in my family who doesn’t love all the decorating, the music, and the lights. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I’m the one who has to do all the actual work. I’m the one who has to survive the black widow spiders in the attic getting everything out to decorate. Then, there are those long green plant ropes, whatever you call them, but I’m the one who has to hang them up everywhere. And, there are the lights–strings and strings of them–enough to light up a small town–but which of course, aren’t working–and I only discover this until after I spend hours installing them on the house.
I also experience Christmas shopping tension. Am I the only one who hates Christmas shopping? For me, it’s not the actual shopping that I hate, but it’s the crowds. I don’t want to navigate through crowds. I don’t want to shop in crowds. I don’t want to stand in line with crowds. They make me feel, well, uh, crowded. Bah humbug! For me, “survive” is the operative word that describes my life for much of the Christmas season. I’m guessing that I’m not alone, that this strikes a familiar chord with many.
Evaluating my overall Grinch-ness, I find myself too focused on surviving the tension surrounding Christmas, rather than celebrating Jesus. When I go into survival mode, I overlook and forget about the Christ of Christmas. When I’m in celebration mode, I focus on Him.
I want to snap out of survival mode and move to celebration. We only have to look as far as the Christmas narrative to see celebration at work in the lives of lowly shepherds. For them, there was something about Jesus that triggered absolute joy within their souls. They ran to see Him! And, when they had left Jesus, they told everyone about Him and celebrated! I want to be like them!
After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished…The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had seen and heard. –Luke 2:17-18, 20 (NLT) Do you need some reasons for celebrating Jesus? Here are some that can help you move from survival to celebration:
• We can celebrate because Jesus was born to save us.
• Because of Jesus, we can celebrate that we don’t have to pay for the sickness of our sins.
• Because of Jesus, we can celebrate that we have God’s presence in our lives and we have access to His power.
• Because of Jesus, we can celebrate that we have a place waiting for us in heaven.
• Because of Jesus, we can celebrate that while we’re living here we can keep growing to be more like Him.
It’s Christmastime! Life’s too short to make surviving the season our goal. What obstacles are you facing that keep you trapped in holiday survival mode and from celebrating Jesus? I encourage you to figure it out, get beyond it, and get on leading your family into the very serious business of celebrating Jesus! He is worth celebrating 365 days a year! Everyday can be like Christmas! (Although I have a hunch that my wife won’t agree with my idea to keep the decorations up year-round.) My hope and prayer for you this Christmas is that you will have had a joyous time with those who are close to you and that your celebration of our Savior’s birth will be accompanied by reflection, depth, joy, and some great new memories.