Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas: The Season of My Discontent?

I love Christmas. It's probably my favorite time of year. It inspires me like almost nothing else (I've already written two published children's books on the subject and have two others at varying stages.) And yet, as much as I love it, it is also one of the seasons of my greatest discontent. Not discontent over the things I don't have or the gifts I won't get, but discontent with myself.

Every year when Christmas comes I find myself thinking about all the things I'd like to do differently or better. All the moments that slipped away. All the ways I'd like to be more faithful, more trusting, more given over to love my Savior with reckless abandon. Somehow I become focused on all the ways that I have fallen short. All the selfishness that still fills my heart. Often, I become plagued by guilt.

But I suppose that's exactly why Jesus was born. To save sinners like me. Christmas is all about the fact that man's attempts to make himself right with God, to clear his conscience, would never be enough. That only God's plan would be effective.

So as I think about the baby boy born in a manger, I can't help but praise God and be filled with hope. Like the shepherds and wise men, I want to bow down in worship and adoration of the One who came because He understood I'd never be good enough in my own merits. No matter how hard I tried.

On Christmas I celebrate that all of my failures, mistakes, messes and moments of missing the mark, have been swallowed up by the greatest LOVE the world has ever known.
Every other gift I could ever receive pales in comparison.

And so like Zechariah, I rejoice, saying:
Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has visited his people and redeemed them.
(Luke 1:68)

Along with Mary, I proclaim:
Oh, how I praise the Lord. How I rejoice in God my Savior! For he took notice of his lowly servant girl, and now generation after generation will call me blessed. For he, the Mighty One, is holy, and he has done great things for me. (Luke 1:46-49)

I celebrate the fact that "because of God's tender mercy, the light from heaven has broken upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace." (Luke 1:78-79)

Light for my darkness, life where there was once death, and peace for my troubled heart and mind. These are the precious gifts of Christmas that fill me with JOY!

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