Christmas for me is a time of longing but not the kind of longing most Christian blogs will profess. Year after year I find myself ready to get the day over with, to push past the gifts, the meals, the family time and move along in life. It’s not that I don’t love celebrating the birth of Jesus, but rather it’s the build-up and hubbub that start to pierce my skin, irritating me in deeply frustrating ways.
We are so eager to celebrate the baby in the manager for a few weeks out of the year, yet just as eager to leave Him there, swaddled in rags in the arms of a weary, yet joyful teenage girl, all of God’s promised wrapped up in the newborn flesh. This Jesus baby stays here for most of us; a tiny deity that we dedicate our month of December too but only as an excuse to live out expectation, to usher in Santa Claus, to speak of reindeer, to argue with family and to string lights on our trees.
Many of us leave Him in Bethlehem and fail to follow Him all the way to Calvary. And friends, He was born to carry His cross to that hill. Jesus grew up.
But where is the grown up Jesus in all of this? Where is our Lord God in the caroling, the cookies, the candy canes, the holiday weight gain and familiar depression?
Yep, I just want to rush past this season, annoyed with the Christmas music blaring out on every radio station: I just want my praise music back, my everyday Jesus worship without all of the bells and sing-song tunes. My heart, like all hearts, is easily distracted. The noise of December threatens my peace and fills up my time, pushing me into places of expectation and disappointment.
This is the narrative of Christmas for me: head down and grind through, enjoy the kids and the tree and pray for the strength to leave my frustration aside.
What is a baby in a manger if we never allow Him to mature? What is the point if most of us fail to pick up our cross and follow Him to Egypt, to Nazareth, to Galilee and Jerusalem? Why sing the songs and throw the tinsel if we cannot carve room out of our daily life to meet with Him in our fractured hearts?
We bake and commune, we eat and drink, we celebrate the birth for a few weeks out of the year and fail to go the distance with our God, with our Savior, Great Counselor and King of Kings.
The expectancy for Christ to come should live in our hearts 365 days of the year. We do not discount or disqualify His birth but instead fall to our knees and recognize the why behind the what.
What if we refuse to turn His temple into a den of robbers and thieves? What if we overturn tables, we sacrifice to the point of pain, we invite others in and offer the best view of our Heavenly King? How would that change our hearts and view of Jesus? What if Christmas was less a season and more an adopted lifestyle? What if we denied the desires of the flesh, the earthly realm and fought hard to root into the Word of life?
What if we took all of God’s promises seriously, fully cognizant of the impact of living in humility, of living in submission, of placing everyone in a position above ourselves? What would that look like? What if I tuned my heart to sing His song and followed Him from the barn in Bethlehem to the tomb and beyond?
As I ask myself these questions, my understanding of making room for Jesus becomes more clearly defined: I cannot harvest a plethora of God’s promises if I am not willing to go the distance.
In order to fully realize and live out a Christmas lifestyle, I need to make room for His throne in my heart first and then in my home. I have to remember that His truths were embodied in the flesh of Jesus and in order to be moved, to be changed, to be renewed and revived, there has to be space in my life for Jesus to take full control, guiding me even to places I would rather not go.
In order to live this Christmas life, I have to let God be God.
It’s easy to say no to a baby, harder to turn my back on the One who bore all my sin on the cross in order that I may live in relationship with the Father. But I turn my back on Him anyways, a hundred times a day and He continues to make space for me. He continues to keep His calendar clear for my heart, prioritizing me as His chosen daughter. He is a good Father and Shepherd, He tells me all of my prayers are yes in Christ.
And so this season I am praying that God would help me to make room for His wonders, to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus beyond the miracle of His birth.