For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
As I think back on the last 16 years of Christmas celebrations as a parent, I could fill a good many pages with items ardently desired by my children on December 1 and summarily forgotten by March 1 – or significantly earlier.
Take this rather gaudy tree topper, for example:
When my middle daughter was 5 or 6, we were shopping for seasonal decor (which, by the way, is not precisely one of my strengths). She saw this garishly bedecked woman-thing and her eyes were dazzled with all the golden glitter. She and her sister made a fervent appeal to place this sparkly woman (who, to me, seems to bear no resemblance whatsoever to any of the angelic messengers described in the Bible) atop our tree. Since the thing was inexpensive and their mom is rather, shall we say, thrifty… the girls got their wish.
This year, the old tree topper was pulled from a box in a forgotten corner of our attic. A good portion of her glitter now dusts the furniture and floors, some of the fake flowers have gone missing, and her plastic hair has lost much of its original shimmer.
In many ways, she is a reminder of how like children we humans really are concerning spiritual matters.
Far too often, our heads are turned by whatever bedazzles our eyes at the moment. Our obsession with all that is fleeting is perhaps particularly obvious during the gigantic marketing extravaganza of December, but it is no less firmly in place year-round.
This Christmas, I am challenged by my perceptions of what makes up a good Christmas. Is it food, family, health, and comfort? Or is it the Christ?
In my circles, this December has brought with it a tidal wave of hurt, strife, difficulty, and loss for many who are dear to me. Marriages are foundering, families do their best to ignore empty seats, bitter feuds are barely contained. All around me, there is conflict and both physical and emotional pain. There is suffering. There is sorrow.
Yet even still, there is Christmas. Despite what we may be told or how we may feel, the gift of Christmas goes far beyond even the boon of family, friends, health, and prosperity. It is for rich and poor alike, for the happy and the sorrowful, for the healthy and the maimed.
The gift of Christmas is salvation from sin and the presence of the Almighty God forever and ever, and it remains a limitless treasure and an unending well of joy no matter what curveballs life may throw our way.
And it is not just for December. The gift of Christmas is eternal. The Lord really did come to bind up the broken-hearted, to set free those who are shackled by sin, and to comfort those who mourn. What’s more, He does this regardless of our circumstances.
He, Himself, is the Gift. He is the prize. He is the goal. And He is good – so, so good.
This Christmas, I am praying for all of the redeemed to catch hold of the breathtaking expanse of treasure we have in Him, no matter what else may happen.
I am praying for my Lord to find and rescue friends and loved ones who have wandered far and wide chasing after shiny trinkets, which when caught, are nothing more than gilded garbage.
I am praying that the disillusioned will see past the facade of our adversary’s cleverly enticing deceptions to the trap within, and for them to seek and find the life-giving Well of Living Water instead.
Finally, I am praying for all of God’s people to remember that Christmas does not consist in who we are with nor in what we give or get, but in what we already have in Christ.
May that reality give weight to our joy, defining every interaction we have with others and outshining any glitter-coated bauble so the world will know our hope is not in this world.
It is in the Glory of the Lord of Hosts.
The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified.
My friends, as much as I love reading all your thoughts here on the blogosphere, I must take a bit of a break. It is time for me to spend some time focusing on my Lord and seeking His will for me in the new year. I may be around if time allows, but if not, I will see you next year. Merry Christmas!