Christmas 2011 is coming to a close. I thank God for the quiet, peaceful day I was able to spend with my immediate family, including Hilde – our 92 year old family friend who has been like another grandma to me as long as I can remember. We shared a wonderful meal together (which was especially nice considering how sick I’ve been over the past few days). Although I’d felt bad that I was unable to buy any gifts for anyone, I knew deep down it wasn’t about that. Being able to have these special moments with my family was a tremendous gift. And the greatest gift, of course, is Jesus Himself...
Even with the blessings I was completely aware of, I have to admit, it was really hard for me to be in the Christmas spirit today. All day long I was brought back to the reality that my friend Celena was now gone. I looked through all of the texts between us over the past year. I read the beautiful messages left on her Facebook page. And I could not help but remember her parents, boyfriend and brother and all the other loved ones who were missing her on this Christmas Day. My heart simply ached. I know that Celena would have wanted us all to have a Merry Christmas but it’s hard to be festive when mourning the loss of such a special loved one. However, in light of her passing, I wanted to be sure to appreciate the time I was able to share with my family today. The truth of the matter is that we have to cherish every moment we're given with our loved ones because life can change in an instant and we don’t get an advance notice when that change might take place.
I’ve been reflecting on Isaiah 9:6 since last night. A familiar verse that many of us have heard countless times, especially this time of year…
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” – Isaiah 9:6
I felt a little bad that I wasn’t in the Christmas spirit but God opened my eyes to the magnitude of this verse and gave a deeper understanding to me today. This verse is prophetically speaking of Jesus’ birth and I am so thankful that God sent His Son, Jesus, to this earth to be our Lord and Savior. But Jesus did not come to earth so we would feel the Christmas spirit – He came to give us His Holy Spirit. The descriptive names for Jesus in that verse had nothing to do with our westernized perception of a Christmas season; the names are of who He is at all times, in all seasons.
Jesus came for those in need of the guidance and comfort. He came for the weak that would need His strength. He came for the fatherless, depressed, anxious and lost. If we never turned to Him for help, we would never know the Wonderful Counselor. By our trying to be strong in our own feeble strength, we’re unable to know Him as Mighty God. Without childlike faith, we’ll never know the Everlasting Father. And if we never cast our anxiety upon the Lord, we can never truly know the Prince of Peace.
If it was an effort to get yourself into the Christmas spirit today (as it was for me), don't feel bad. Those "Christmas-y" feelings fade anyway. But if you found yourself in need of encouragement or strength or peace, know that's okay because that is exactly the whole reason Jesus came to this earth. The gift that will last for all eternity. Not a gift that is forced but one we must open our hearts to willingly receive. That's what Christmas is about. I pray that you experience that greatest of gifts...
Prince of Peace.