“Ba! Ba! Baaa!” my one-year-old excitedly exclaimed as she watched her older brother leap onto a giant red ball on our way into Target. Making our way into the store, we maneuvered through the maze of people who were either starting or finishing their Christmas shopping. While I love Target as much as the next person, I generally love it a smidge less 11 days before Christmas. This trip did not change my mind. Although we were only there to return an item and buy a new folder for my son (apparently folders don’t last an entire school year in the hands of preschoolers), we had to pay appropriate homage to the toy aisles as well in order to placate said preschooler.
The toy aisles, as you may have guessed, were crammed with (mostly) clueless parents, aunts, and grandparents looking for toys they had never even heard of until a few days prior. Although I am mostly done with our shopping, I joined them in looking around, wondering if this toy or that would be better than what I have hidden away in our closet at home.
After we checked out and loaded ourselves into the car, I felt my brain spinning as I tried to remember what I needed to do before Christmas. Maybe I should go back to Target sans kids and grab that squishy toy for a stocking stuffer. Dang it, we don’t even have stocking stuffers. When am I going to get that done? Probably never, we will just have to say Santa forgot about the stockings. Oh my gosh, no! I have to get to the store alone to buy cheap things that fit in stockings that no one will ever use.
After I had worried about my personal to-dos, my thoughts drifted toward my to-do list for work. I began thinking about an end of the year newsletter that I needed to put together. I work for an organization called Young Life. The mission statement of Young Life is to “introduce adolescents to Jesus Christ and help them grow in their faith”. I mean, sign me up. I mentally sorted through the stories from the past year that our staff had sent me to organize for this newsletter. Stories of lives changed because they met the One who changes them. Suddenly, I was lost in thoughts about my own story. Jesus used Young Life to radically change the trajectory of my life and I began sobbing as I thought about how the two little ones in the back seat wouldn’t even be here if it weren’t for His lavish grace.
I drove the rest of the way to our destination lost in thought and worshiping the One who saves. And then it hit me. Something wonderful had just happened: My mind had taken a break from chasing the to-do’s and what-if’s of the season and I had simply been remembering.
Remembering the One who called me out of the darkest of nights and delivered me safely into His arms.
Reflecting on where my life should have ended up, statistically speaking.
Rejoicing in years of answered prayers and even the unanswered ones that were for my benefit, even when I could not see it.
Remembering why Jesus had to come as a baby – to save the most wretched of sinners like me.
The hustle ‘n bustle of shopping and Target and work to-do’s was left in the rearview mirror for a few precious moments and in that space I found freedom again. Friends, we are getting SO CLOSE to Christmas. And we have an enemy who wants us to be caught up in all of the things that aren’t of God; who wants us to be anxious and self-reliant and insecure. Let’s fight back this week. Take a few minutes to throw some worship music on, find a silent place, or go for a walk and consider the baby in a manger and how He changed everything.
Some thoughts to get you started:
The Bible says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Cor 5:17 ESV). These aren’t just nice words, they are the reality of our life in Christ. Take some time to consider how God has transformed you. Think about who you were before you met Jesus and how far He has brought you as you’ve drawn close to Him.
Consider for a few minutes why Jesus had to come to earth. It’s easy to focus on the joyful, happy parts of Christmas, and that’s not a bad thing, but it’s also good to remember why He had to come at all. He came to save us because we were helpless to save ourselves. He came because of our sin, and He came willingly and humbly. The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. (Isaiah 9:2 NIV)
Play some Christmas music and really listen to the lyrics. Many of the old Christmas hymns tell the story of the Gospel. Some suggestions: Hark the Herald Angels Sing, O Holy Night, O Come O Come Emmanuel, Silent Night, and Joy to the World.
It’s not too late for an Advent reading plan! Head over to SheReadsTruth to join theirs or simply pick up your Bible and read the story of Jesus’ birth. Read it daily until Christmas. Read it day and night. Read the prophecies about Him. Just read. The Holy Spirit will meet you exactly where you are.
My prayer for us in these last few days before Christmas is that we may see more clearly the One who called us out of darkness and into light. What unfathomable grace! Merry Christmas, friends!