Christmas- a magical time of year. At least it is for a lot of people. But for some people, it can be a struggle to muster up some Christmas spirit. I fall into that category sometimes. Don’t get me wrong, I love spending time with family and eating way too much food. I love picking out that perfect gift, imagining, my loved one’s face as they open it. I love the soft glow of the Christmas lights in my living room. I love the extra generosity that wells up in people this time of year.
But it’s a few days before Christmas, and I’m thinking through what my Christmas weekend holds. And if I’m totally honest, I’m a little bit ready for it to be over. All day I’ve been fighting my own mind to stay positive and psych myself up to a place of some not-so-faked excitement. But my brain instead fills with the details of what needs to be accomplished and the plan B’s that need to be set up in case plan A falls apart.
Did I get what I needed from the grocery store?
Where did I save the recipe for the mac and cheese?
Are they actually going to like the gifts?
Should I forgo my environmental stance on paper plates and just use them this weekend?
Does everyone have clean clothes to get them through everywhere we are going this weekend?
Have I created the perfect Christmas ambiance for my family?
And the list goes on. Between family gatherings, work parties, church events, and step parenting schedules, life can stay pretty busy.
In addition to that, life goes on around us, regardless of the fact that it’s December. Life doesn’t clean up its act for Christmas. That’s been my experience lately. Maybe not always directly to me, but just around me. Family members can’t agree. Work causes stress. Marriages feel tension. Medical issues come up. Addicts relapse. Money runs out.
My husband and I had a conversation recently about one of these messy situations happening close to us. He wisely said “Yeah, it could get messy, but I feel like we need to be in the middle of it to help where we can.” I was convicted by that, as I kind of liked keeping my little life as clean as my control would let me.
So as I’m sitting here wishing the season by, I wonder where I went wrong. Where did I get off focus? When did I let my own mental distress distract me from what Christmas is all about? Because at the end of the day, details not falling into place won’t have the disastrous effect that my mind has conjured up. And the bigger picture is that God is still in control of everything from big-time life issues to the little daily things that weigh on my heart.
So I need to turn my focus back to the Jesus of Christmas. Not just cute little baby He was born as, but the Messiah He became.
You see, the perfect son of God willingly stepped out of His perfect Heaven and down into our mess. Because Jesus knew something about life on this earth that many of us, myself included, need to come to terms with. Life is messy. It always has been and always will be. Jesus knew that, and He knew that I would look at this world and feel discouraged at times. He knew that we would suffer and not always feel joy in my life.
And that’s why He stepped down out of Heaven. He was born as a little baby to bring hope into our mess. A hope so big that a giant star and ten thousand angels were needed to announce it! Jesus was born with a singular purpose. To grow up and die, for the sole purpose of securing hope for all mankind. He was born to die and bring restoration to our messes, relationships, and heartaches.
Maybe God has let me feel a little bit overwhelmed at the messes around me for a purpose. To remind me that He is bigger than all of it, and there is no reason for me to be scared to sort out my own messes and step in other people’s. He is more in control of it than I could ever be.
So as this Christmas season swings into full gear, I would encourage you to do two things. First, don’t be afraid of your own stresses and messes. Jesus isn’t. He knows what stresses you out and what hurts you. And He didn’t come to make life perfect all the time, but to give you hope in the middle of imperfection.
Second, look around you. People are hurting and living without hope. Don’t be afraid to love on them for fear of the mess. If Jesus can choose to lovingly step down out of Heaven into our crazy mess and die because of it, surely we can get our hands a little bit dirty in the lives of those around us.
One of my favorite Christmas albums has a song who’s lyrics strike me every year:
As He sleeps upon the hay,
He holds the moon and stars in place.
Though born an infant, He remains
The sovereign God of endless day!*
Jesus came at Christmas, but He is so much more than the baby born in a barn. He is the sovereign God who holds the world together. He is the little baby that grew up and then chose to die so that we could have hope in this life and a future forever with Him in the next. That, my friends, is where my focus needs to be this Christmas.
*“God Made Low” from Prepare Him Room by Sovereign Grace