This week we are discussing preparing our hearts for Christmas. Personally, this is very timely for me, so I guess the Holy Spirit had me in mind, and hopefully someone out there will receive a blessing from it as well.
The first way to prepare for Christmas is to (in today's vernacular) channel your inner child. So often I hear people say, "Christmas is for kids." Sometimes they sound rather sad, or pensive, as if they are recalling past holidays and the joys that they shared. Do you long for the days when you enjoyed Christmas as a child? Do you long for the times that you shared Christmas with your own children?
I've always joked that growing "old" is mandatory, but that growing "up" is optional. We smile at that, but did you know that Jesus encouraged folks to become like children? He told Nicodemus and also told His disciples that children are our model for how to enter, and how to live in His kingdom.
Whoaaa! Let's put the brakes on here! Jesus wasn't saying that we should be childish, but childlike. He wasn't saying that we shouldn't mature with age . . . in fact, as you may see in those around you, there are some adults that are still selfish, or unforgiving, or quick-tempered; these are things that we should outgrow! Yes, these negative things are ones that we should lay aside as we mature -- but there are some positive ones that we should hold on to:
First, dependence. Children need someone to take care of them, and they trust that someone to do what is right and good for them. So, we too should be dependent -- on our heavenly Father.
We should truly become like children in our dependence on God the Father . . . not for the things that we can do, but for the things that we cannot do ourselves.“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:9-11)
Second, wonder. Depending on what stage you are in, in your life, you may recall walking with your children, or with your grandchildren, through the woods or some other natural area. Remember the delight that they take in finding a butterfly cocoon? They see things so differently than we do. Catching a glimpse of that red-headed woodpecker, or watching the stones glisten in the creek, or seeing the water cascade over a falls --- all of these are astonishing and filled with wonder for a child. As adults, we may take these for granted. We don't take time to see, and we especially don't take time to wonder and be amazed. If we were Moses, we'd walk right by that burning bush, and miss out on the glory that God wanted to reveal!
That's why some of us may feel that Christmas is just another day --- we've forgotten to really look at the baby in the manger, and to think about who He really is, and why He came. Jesus calls to us at Christmas to become like children again. To look in wonder at the world around us. To study deep in His word that He gave us. To be amazed and astounded and dazzled by His goodness and His mercy.
So, as you prepare for this Christmas, don't go back to childish ways and actions. But we can practice depending on God a little more, instead of fretting and fussing about everything. We can take the time to stop and look around us at the wonderful world that He created, the wonderful Bible He gave to us, and the wonders of what God is doing -- right this minute -- in our lives. We can prepare our hearts to celebrate the birthday of our Lord Jesus!