"Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord."
-- Luke 2:11
Wide-Eyed with Wonder
By Belinda Elliott
I have a confession. For the last few years I’ve been caught up in the Christmas rat race.
Yes, I’ve been one of those people that you loathe at this time of year. I’ve raced through malls at break-neck speed looking for the perfect gift. I’ve rushed into stores at closing time on Christmas Eve to finish my shopping. I’ve even bought presents on the way out of town to visit family members and wrapped them in the car as my husband sped down the interstate to get us there on time.
Each year it has seemed like Christmas is one big race to the finish line, and I’m always rushing to catch up.
But it wasn't always that way.
I remember the Christmases of my childhood. Our neighborhood turned into a sea of Christmas lights and decorations, and we would drive around to see them all. Our house was a tranquil setting filled with green garland and holly berries, twinkling lights, stockings hung on a mantle, and a tall tree adorned with beautiful ornaments. In the days leading up to Christmas I would lie in front of our fireplace at night and gaze at our living room lit up only by the small colorful lights on our Christmas tree.
As I wondered at the beauty of it all, I decided this was my favorite time of the year. It was a delightful holiday that seemed to last for weeks.
Why does it seem like Christmas loses that magical quality as we get older?
Perhaps it is because as adults, we are now responsible for all the things we never had to worry about as kids. Brainstorming for the perfect gift for each of our loved ones, fighting the traffic and crowded malls to spend hours shopping, writing Christmas cards until our hands cramp, decorating the house, cooking for numerous Christmas parties or family gatherings -- the list goes on and on and leaves us feeling harried, stressed, and too tired to truly enjoy ourselves.
But not this year.
This year I realized the error of my ways and decided to change my approach to Christmas. This year I would not let the Christmas preparations and shopping get the better of me. I decided that this year I would truly enjoy the holiday and take time to remember the reason for the season. But how? I wondered.
I knew that I would still need to get everything done just like every year before, but I wanted to make sure I wasn’t caught up in the commercialism or stress as in past Christmas seasons. I wanted to recapture that amazement and wonder that I had felt during the holiday as a child. So I began with a simple prayer.
Lord, help me to keep You at the center of all that I do for Christmas this year.
It was only a few days later that I was struck by a verse in Ephesians. I had just started studying the book a few weeks earlier. I was intrigued as I read part of Paul’s prayer for the church at Ephesus. “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints” (Ephesians 1:18).
That’s it, I thought! I want my eyes to be opened again to the hope and glorious inheritance that we find in Christ Jesus. That’s where the true magic of Christmas lies.
We celebrate Christmas because the baby born in a manger so many years ago brought us hope and salvation. We give gifts to those we love because we remember the greatest gift that God gave to us, a way to have a relationship with him through Christ who forgives our sins. And as Christ’s adopted sons and daughters, we have Heaven to look forward to, where He is preparing a place for us.
These are truths that we all know as Christians, but they can often get lost in the Christmas rush. I decided to not let these thoughts fall to the sidelines this year.
As I’ve kept these things at the forefront of my mind, an interesting thing has happened. The season has become magical once again. Christmas lights seem brighter, people seem merrier, and the past few weeks have been full of Christmas cheer.
And what’s even more amazing is that as I’ve focused on Christ, the details that usually have me stressing out at this time of year are also nicely falling into place. Our house is more decorated than it has ever been in years past. I’m almost finished with my Christmas shopping. And I even have most of the presents that I’ve purchased wrapped already.
The best part is that I have my Christmas joy back. Rather than approaching the holiday with dread because of all I have to do, I’ve found myself approaching it with the wide-eyed wonder of a child once again.
This year December 25th will truly be a special day as I spend time with family and reflect on the marvelous love and grace that Christ gives us.
Are you in the midst of the Christmas rat race?
Slow down and let Christ take back Christmas in your life. You will find that you can once again truly enjoy this wondrous season.
Do you have a relationship with Jesus Christ? Meet Him today.
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