Oh, the joy of Christmas morning! The smell of pine and cinnamon waking you at dusk. Darkness exposed by shimmering lights that filled a tree you helped grow, branch by branch. Siblings gathered harmoniously to decorate the tree with strings of popcorn, crafts from elementary school and a big, white angel atop its throne. A trail of crumbs from sugar cookies you helped bake Christmas Eve, sprinkled from the kitchen to the living room and a glass of milk drank by Santa. A magical message written on the crinkled napkin he wiped his mouth with promising, “Ho, Ho, Ho, Merry Christmas! Until next year. – Santa Claus.” Regardless if there weren’t many pretty bows or shiny wrapped boxes under a real tree you and your family picked out to be chopped down, you still enjoyed the Spirit of Christmas.
`Tis the season of warmth in a winter wonderland! Heat from hot cocoa melting the hearts of children like Reddi Wip overflowing as a snowy mountain down the rim, while their parents add a shot of espresso to their own mug. Families gathering with their sons and daughters and brothers and sisters who are on leave after being over-seas for months. Parents celebrating their child’s first Christmas with video recordings of an oversupply of gifts and laughter. A supernatural generosity of feeding and clothing the poor and needy. These all make up for a wonderful Christmas season.
If only every season of life were this beautiful.
This year, not everyone’s son or daughter and brother or sister will be home on leave for the holidays. They will be serving with other young adults who are dying for our safety and freedom. Some families will be mourning their inability to conceive or carry a child while hundreds and thousands of unborn babies are murdered– legally! Homeless human beings are dying in woods and under viaducts from hypothermia or drug and alcohol abuse. Most families are a few pay checks away from being homeless. If we really understood that, maybe then we would invest into people’s lives more than once a year.
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
Solomon is trying to tell us life is meant to be enjoyed, not just endured. When your life may feel empty, remember to have His joy. Our joy will run out. His joy is our strength– strength in all circumstances. “I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!” John 15:11
Though your natural circumstances may be factual, we are to partner with the truth of God’s Word and stand firm on His promises. Your test results may have come back positive with a deadly disease or maybe you lost your job of 10+ years and don’t know what the next step is to save your mortgage and lease. Lately, your marriage may seem rocky and now your spouse wants a divorce. Bad news can too easily dampen our attitudes if we’re not thinking on purpose the thoughts of God.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Jesus is promising peace in our trouble with confidence that we will overcome because He has overcome! There is no other option but to overcome when we step out in faith and let God be God.
Bad news can too easily dampen our attitudes if we’re not thinking on purpose the thoughts of God.
My challenge as a young wife and new mother is to enjoy life as it is, even if that means changing diapers and getting vomited on. Too many hours have wasted away in a day worrying about whether or not my husband will love me if the laundry is still sitting on top of the dryer or put away. My family loves me for me, not if the floors are mopped or the kitchen sink is empty.
Thoughts of how I could have done things differently, or what my life would be like now if I had done things differently, consume my mind and emotions when I let them. “Maybe I should have joined the military like my sisters.” or, “Maybe I shouldn’t have married so young and went away to college first.” In the mean time, my husband is loving me as Christ loves the Church and my son is growing into a 1-year-old. The enemy is raging to distract me, trying to redirect my mind to his lies rather than God’s truth.
Dwelling on the “what ifs” will, not can, hinder your relationship with your spouse, with your family and ultimately with God. If you would have done things differently, of course your life would be different, but that doesn’t mean it would be better. Imagine the advancement you would bring to the Kingdom of God when you choose to worship God with all of your mind through thought, prayer and meditating on the Word. Your days would be filled with His glory instead of your worry.
These are the thoughts we need to choose to dwell on:
- 8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think on these things. Philippians 4:8
While remembering God’s thoughts towards us:
17 How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
They cannot be numbered!
18 I can’t even count them;
they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up,
you are still with me! Psalm 139: 17-18
As we enter into December from surviving Thanksgiving, stuffing our faces with deep-fried turkey (oh yeah) and pecan pie, may we remember that it’s O.K. to gain a few pounds! Enjoy every bite! We aren’t to focus on the negative– even if we gained a few. 🙂