"For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6 (ESV)
I tend to have a melancholy feeling when all the presents are unwrapped on Christmas morning and the area under the tree is empty. I get excited by the anticipation of that special day. As I carefully choose and buy gifts, I imagine in my mind how excited my family will be when they open them. Sometimes, I am right. Sometimes not. But because my focus has been on the unwrapping and reactions, when that part is over and I realize it won't come again for a year, I grow a bit sad.
Is it that way for you too? Do you get so wound up by the planning, decorating and giving that you lose some of the joy when the moment is over? I think a lot of people do. Christmas day is so extremely commercially hyped that we fail to keep our minds on the true reason for celebration.
Over seven hundred years prior to the arrival of the Son of God upon this earth, Isaiah prophesied His coming. An expectant people waited and waited for their Messiah to come, expecting a mighty warrior, a royal king who would set them free from their bondage. However, He came as a helpless infant, born into poverty instead of riches. His first bed was hay that was intended to be food for livestock. His first visitors, though sent by angels, were dirty shepherds rather than important dignitaries. No wonder so many failed to see Him for who He truly was.
How many of us miss Him today? As we endure the frailties of life and the trials of this world, do we forget that we have a Savior? As we enjoy the festivities that are associated with this time of year, where are our thoughts? When we gather around the tree with our families on Christmas morning, are we cognizant of the reason we exchange gifts? Without Christ, there would be no Christmas.
The next few days will be full of activity and it may be challenging to carve time just for Him, yet it is so important to stop and bow before Him. He came for you. He came for me. His choice to leave Heaven, live as a man, endure cruelty beyond belief and to ultimately hang upon a wooden cross was made with us in mind. That's what it took to secure our forgiveness and to give us access to Almighty God. Christmas is about so much more than the Baby in the manger. It is about the risen Savior and His gifts to us and every celebration should be held with that in mind.
My Christmas wish for everyone this year is that we would turn our hearts and minds toward Jesus. That we would honor Him with our words and actions. That before anything else, we would make sure our children know how precious this time is. Most of all, that we would allow the joy of His arrival, life, death and resurrection to fill us with unspeakable joy that we will allow to bubble over into every life that we encounter in the coming year. In His indescribable love, I wish you a very Christ-filled and merry Christmas. God bless.