The holidays are stressful for most of us. So many people visiting. So many gifts to wrap and give. So many treats to make. So many dishes to prepare. So many cards to write. So many things to be done, so little time to squeeze them in. Does this sound like your holiday season too?
What is the point of all that? Hopefully, if we really dig down deep, we find that the underlying goal behind most of those things is that we want to show people love. Why do we visit others? Because we love them and want to enjoy their company. What do we hope to accomplish by giving gifts and sending cards? We want to show others that they are known, thought of, and loved. What is the reason we partake in so many festivities centered around meals? We want to enjoy quality time with those we may not see very often and fill our bellies with the delightful bounty God blesses us with. All of these are good things that are about loving others.
How is it, then, that all of those “to-do’s” can turn into stressful situations when the Christmas season is supposed to be all about love? People get trampled on Black Friday in the name of finding a deal. We fight with our relatives when they get on our nerves. We drive ourselves to a breaking point trying to prepare perfect, elaborate meals that will meet everyone’s preferences, tastes, and dietary restrictions. We spend late nights putting together Christmas cards and treat tins and find ourselves running on empty. “Where did the joy of the season go?”, you think.
If we are overwhelmed and full of worries, we might be looking in the wrong place for our joy and satisfaction in the season. Yes, doing all those things is a way of showing love to others. But if our own tank is feeling empty, and our well is running dry, no amount of sugar-dusted cookies or glowing Christmas lights are going to fill us up. We need to look somewhere else. There is a perfect little baby in a feeding trough beckoning us to put down the wrapping paper, bring our hearts in our hands, and kneel down in worship and adoration.
My little toddler has an amazing fascination with our nativity set. We share the story with her almost daily, and she listens intently as we point to the figures. But when we’re walking past it, she will point at baby Jesus and plead with us to let her hold him. She then gives him kisses, and cradles him in her arms, as if she knows that this little baby deserves all her affection. She never seems to ask for the guys carrying the gifts, the sheep, or the angel lifting its arms in praise. She is drawn with a laser-like focus to the manger cradling this perfect little baby.
She gets it. She really does. There is nothing more important right now than worshiping Jesus and adoring Him for who He is. He is the tiny reason for this big day we spend months preparing for. He is the gift our hearts can unwrap every day.
As we are showing love to others through the gifts, the food, the cards, the treats, and the quality time, can we still remember to take the time to love God in that little baby that came to give us life? If our hearts are fixed on Him and full of his love, we won’t be looking for joy primarily in how much we can accomplish. If there’s a task that isn’t going to ultimately bring worship and adoration to our King, and point others toward Him, it may be something we can lay down at His feet and just say “Lord, this isn’t life-giving. Can you help me simplify it so it is?”
The one who is after our hearts will show us what brings him Glory. Lets bring him what He wants most- ourselves. He will help us sort out the rest. And give us rest.