I had the most interesting conversation the other day. I was talking to my older sister about this upcoming Christmas and her arrival at home when she said,
"You know, I'm excited this year about Christmas. It didn't sneak up on me. I'm really ready and excited for it this year. I didn't miss it."
There's nothing that brings joy to my heart like hearing someone say that they're excited about Christmas. You guys know that I love this time of year. Lights, carols, blah, blah, blah. It's all awesome.
In fact, I got this sweatshirt in the mail today from the boyfriend. He knows me all too well. -------------------------->
And this year, I felt like I was ready for it too. Thanks to early preparation, and free two-day shipping courtesy of Amazon Prime, I was really knocking out my Christmas list. Boyfriend's house is almost ready for his family to get here. My parents have our house looking fantastic. (Turns out that when you don't carelessly fling ornaments onto the tree, but instead take the proper time, it turns out better! Mom was right. As always.)
I felt ready. I know that you caught that past tense.
I felt ready until I started getting really honest about the things that were worrying me a few nights ago. After pushing my worries and fears into the back of my head and heart, they finally came out. Turns out I was a little more worried than I thought about everything going well.
But as I talked through everything that was worrying me, I realized that most of it had nothing to do with Christmas. It had much more to do with relational tension that I know I'm going to face. It had much more to do with my frustration towards people not doing what I felt like is right thing to do and going with the flow.
I was very convinced that they were sticks in the mud. I'm still pretty convinced of that, but as I prayed, I prayed for two things.
First, I prayed that people who need the Lord would experience Him this season through the hope, joy and peace found in our home. I prayed for their hearts to be soft and open to the working of the Lord. I prayed for a miracle in their lives, stepping out into the faith of so many before me who have prayed for miracles during this celebration of the most miraculous event, Jesus coming to earth.
And then the second thing I prayed stung a little. I prayed for my heart to softened to those sticks in the mud. I prayed for my mouth to be filled with the Holy Spirit. And I prayed that if they're not going to be nice, I need an extra outpouring of peace, patience and love from the Holy Spirit this season.
You see, I can pray for healing and help in other people's lives. I can pray that attitudes change and that good things come. But I realized that I need to be praying for myself too!
If they aren't open to the Lord's speaking in their souls, then I need to be speaking from the Lord! How will they know His patience and understanding if I don't model it? How will they know His grace and forgiveness if I don't extend it? How will they see anything positive this season if I just sit in a corner and pray for their attitudes to change but don't show them the love of God?
So this season, I'm not missing Christmas. I'm a bit of a hard head anyways, so I'm treating Christmas with the same kind of determination as most things I tackle. I'm not going to quit praying until I've found the Lord in this chaos. (And by chaos, I mean the number of packages mysteriously landing on my doorstep, with no effort from me. Not the mall traffic. Amazon Prime, baby.) I'm not missing it because I'm walking with the Lord through all of it. We're here to celebrate Him, even with those stick in the mud knuckle-heads that we call our family. And after they leave, we'll be still here. We'll still have the Lord to celebrate with and for.
So if you're frustrated or broken-hearted about something this Christmas, brighten up. You're doing it right. You're not missing Chrismas. Jesus is Emmanuel, meaning "God with us." He's with you when you're frustrated and broken-hearted. So talk to Him and seek Him. He's in control of all of it already. Which basically means that He's the planner of this party, not us.
This Sunday, Jim will be preaching on Family Rejection. That sounds worse than it is. As I talked to him today, he'll be talking about how to get along with and get through a Christmas with family tensions. It will be much more practical than this blog, so make sure that you're in worship this Sunday at 9:15 or 10:40!
Here are the songs that Landon led last week in NewSong:
"Sing to the King" by Candi Pearson Shelton
"Emmanuel (Hallowed Manger Ground" by Chris Tomlin (from his Christmas album, Glory in the Highest)
"Jesus, Son of God" by Chris Tomlin
and for offering, I sang
"Already All I Need" by Christy Nockels from her new album called Into the Glorious. And I tell you what, if you like good lyrics and a good groove and an overall good album, Into the Glorious is awesome. I can't stop listening to it!
So I hope to see you there this week! Worship will be great!