Christmas is a crazy, beautiful time of year. I love listening to carols, especially the old classics. I also love looking at lights and elaborate decorations. I also love time together with family and friends. But looking back over the multitudes of Christmases, the best part has always been the hope of what presents I might get.
I loved making wish lists as a kid. Going through the big Sears toy catalog and picking out what looked the most awesome. I didn’t always get what I wanted, even though I admit I was completely spoiled. I got more than I really needed, certainly.
I would spend most of December trying to find hidden boxes throughout the house…hidden in closets, or under beds. And then when gifts would be set out under the tree, I would shake and rattle the wrapped boxes, trying to determine the contents.
When I try to put profound, grown-up words on what makes Christmas great, I come up with this: Christmas is great knowing that someone who loves you, is planning something special, specifically with your joy in mind. They are preparing something for you – to bring you happiness. This to me, is HOPE. The hope that someone who loves me is preparing something special for me – specifically with my joy in mind.
Still I have to admit that as I get older, I pretend it doesn’t matter so much that I didn’t get anything good for Christmas. “Oh socks! I love them! This sweater is beautiful – it’s so soft!” But I can’t escape the ache – the feeling that there should be something more. Something more in line with my heart’s deepest longings. It’s not greed…it’s HOPE!!
THERE’S GOT TO BE SOMETHING MORE
I don’t know about you, but I feel this same way in life – there’s got to be something more! I feel the pain in life…the uncertainty…the fear…the confusion…the loneliness…and everything in me desires for it to be different. There is something in me that says this all could be different…and it probably should be. The difference between the way things are…and the way I desire them to be…creates a crazy dissonance within me. Dissonance…or tension. Dissonance is a musical term used when two or more notes that clash with each other are played simultaneously. Tension…between the way things are, and the way you feel they could be.
The dissonance or tension between the way things are and the way I would like things to be…drives me crazy! Because I HOPE! I HOPE for things to be better. For things to make sense. For things to have some purpose. Maybe you feel this way as well.
WE ARE ALL PART OF A GRAND STORY
I believe that in life, we are all part of a grand story. Good stories all have a main character who experiences some kind of conflict, then a hero comes in and brings resolution – and there’s redemption, a rescue, a being saved. A resolution that reveals value to the whole story! You can’t have a good movie or book with just the rescue…you have to see the need for the main character to be rescued…or saved, if you will.
Life is a story of dissonance – a story of conflict. But I also believe it is a story of rescue. You are in the middle of a grand story. And there is a hero who is longing to rescue you, not take you out of it, but to bring beauty to it, purpose, and meaning.
GOD IS THAT SOMEONE
What makes Christmas great is when someone who loves you plans something special, specifically with your joy in mind. God is that someone, and He is doing just that for you! That’s what He’s been about for all of time – showing you HIS love and HIS desire to invade your personal story – a story that you’ve been thinking was all up to you, or at least, simply a product of chance. God is writing your story.
If you want to acknowledge and receive all that GOD is preparing for you, there’s one gift you have to receive first. And it’s the most controversial name in society today…JESUS. God thought to himself: How can I give them a gift they will receive…a BABY!! Jesus is God’s gift to you. That’s why we as Christians celebrate Christmas.
God is preparing something great for each of you, and the way to those gifts today, is through the big gift – through the baby – Jesus! As you begin to see Jesus as God’s gift to you, then all the other things GOD has for you will be given.
But, you need to know that seeing Jesus as your hero isn’t going to get you out of prison. It isn’t going to heal all your broken relationships. It isn’t going to make everything shiny and new, like some TV preachers seem to announce. But seeing Jesus as God’s gift to you opens you up to all kinds of new possibilities – new ways of viewing yourself, viewing other people, and the circumstances of life you find yourself caught in the middle of. Things will start to blossom with meaning and purpose. I promise.
If this is something that seems to be stirring in your heart, I encourage you to read the Bible…to pray…to talk with other people about what they know about God…listen to teachers and preachers you feel you can trust. And never let go of the hope that God, who loves you deeply, is working to make something incredibly special out of your life…specifically with your joy, and His glory, in mind.
I was honored to have the opportunity to deliver this message to a group of inmates at Charles Bass Correctional Complex in Nashville, Tenn. on my birthday (Dec. 5th). Please pray for them.