It’s the first Sunday of Advent or maybe next Sunday is and we started early…regardless, and the hustle and bustle and treats and presents and crafts are beginning to hit us full force! My goals for this season are on a never-ending mental checklist. If you’re like me, you’ve likely already thought about the things you didn’t do last year, checked Pinterest or scrolled Facebook and gotten more ideas than your brain can even remember and made a list for yourself about how to make this Christmas great – filled with activities or crafts for each day so that your kids will remember that Advent is about Jesus…and yet, somewhere in the midst of all that, there’s a chance (if you’re like me) that we’ve lost the wonder, awe, and slow gazing upon Jesus that Christmas (and our lives) are all about.
There’s a chance that we will let all those good things become ruling things – crafts, desserts, and activities that will captivate our time and affection and attention more than Jesus. And friends, the things that rule our hearts are idols. If that stings you a bit, be assured that it stung, and keeps stinging, me too as I’m convicted and repent of my idols daily!
There’s a chance that we’re comparing ourselves to a multitude of things and people during the Christmas season, and in doing so, miss the simple, beautiful, pure joy of the God who came to be WITH us.
If we’re honest, we probably need to say “no” to a lot more things than we say “yes” to this December.
I’m not trying to talk you out of your favorite books, traditions, and activities – by all means, do the things that bring life to you and your family and point you to the wonder, awe, and joy of Jesus. Go to a Christmas party and celebrate because God has given you life and laughter and peace. Make that craft each day because you and your kids love it and look forward to the tradition of it every year. But don’t do these things just because the neighbor is or because you’re looking for your identity in that.
Gaze with wonder at Emmanuel and lead your children in doing the same. Point to Him in the lights, the songs, the Bible, the opportunities to give, and the gifts received. Slow down, breath in the wonder and grace of the season, and look to Him who came, be reminded of how that has changed your life forever.
I’ve been wrestling through this the past week, thinking about how to let the light in, point my kids to Jesus in even the simplest of ways, to keep their hearts and minds thinking on how Jesus came to be with us and redeem us. But, am I thinking about it for me? That’s where it starts – in my heart as I lead them.
Paul Tripp threw me a gut punch this morning in his devotional New Morning Mercies:
“It is dangerous to live without your heart being captured by the awe of God, because awe of God is quickly replaced by awe of you.”
Ouch, as I’m convicted, I’m reminded it is always His mercy that leads me to repentance, and I keep reading…
“We were created to live in a real, heart-gripping, agenda-setting, behavior-forming awe of God. But other awes have kidnapped our hearts. We need grace to see again, to tremble again, and to bow down again at the feet of the One who deserves our awe.”
Maybe the simple things we do with our children this season are enough, because Jesus is more than enough. And, He is worthy of my heart’s attention, affection, and awe, infinitely more than the perfectly done craft or baked good.
These are the questions I’m going to be asking this season, “did we gaze on Jesus today?” and “did we watch for the Light?”
And whether its through a reading an advent devotional before bed, baking some slice ’n’ bake cookies, driving around looking at lights, re-reading the Nativity story, making exquisite gingerbread houses (this one’s for you, not me of course!), secretly dropping off delicious cookies at our neighbors houses, singing Christmas carols and hymns, staying home in our PJs watching movies by the Christmas tree all day, or buying lots of great presents, I hope that the answer is “yes” we gazed upon the wonder and hope and beauty that is in Jesus in that seemingly significant or insignificant thing we did today; we watched for Him making all things new.
And if it’s “no, my heart was kidnapped by other awes”, guess what?
There’s grace for that. That’s why He came.