I’m sitting here at Starbucks writing about December while this week the sun has shone brightly and the highs have hit the seventies. Christmas Day the high is supposed to be sixty degrees, not our normal Kentucky weather. It reminds me of growing up in tropical Thailand where, while Christmas meant cooler temperatures, we could still swim in the ocean on Christmas Day.
I got a Starbucks’ Advent calendar this year and as I love to do, I’ve customized it to suit me. Each day is a brightly colored tin ball, and I’ve replaced the chocolate inside (I’m a dark chocolate fan) with a portion of the Christmas story from Luke, so that every day I read more of the story. Then I went through all the dreams I’ve had from God and taken bits of them and created slips, one for each day, of a gift he has given me based on a dream. For example, there’s I give you the gift of honey. (Gift list Dream: 11/28/15), and I give you the boldness to stop people who want to harm you. (Dreams: 9/12/00; 11/24/00; 9/3/10; 3/7/15).
Today my slip read: I give you hope. (Dream: 1/5/09) Hope just might be the most valuable gift of all when it comes to living life on this earth. In my dream I woke as someone was saying, “When everything looks lost, and then someone comes and brings hope.” But you don’t need a dream to have hope. That’s really what Christmas is all about. How true it is, that “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” (Proverbs 13:12) Jesus came to give us “a hope and a future.”
Have you ever felt hopeless? I have. There was one time when I’ve felt that I had no future left, the blow was too great (and it wasn’t when Terry died, I knew even then that I had a future and that it was going to be good.) At the time I had a piece of cloth that God had led me to that represented Terry’s and my destiny, and even though our destiny seemed to have been destroyed I lay in bed that night and put the cloth over me, showing satan that even though I couldn’t see it I knew that God was in control of my future, whatever it looked like. All I could do was cover myself with my future and let hope be born again in me.
I love this from Psalms 25:5—“… you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” The word “hope” is mentioned 166 times in the NIV Bible. That’s enough to tell us it’s something that God takes seriously. He IS hope! I know our mercies are new every morning but so is our hope. That’s a gift that I can appreciate.
I love celebrating, and the month of December has plenty of opportunities. Sure, it’s commercialized, but I have no control over that, Christmas is here for me to enjoy any way I choose and I choose to embrace it.
“Where is Jesus in all this?” Well, here’s the thing. Jesus and I celebrate Him every day of the year. So it’s not like I “forget” that he came to be born for me. And Jesus isn’t a baby anymore. When you celebrate your birthday does everyone pull out all your newborn pictures, have mock-ups of your baby crib, and celebrate you as a newborn? No, they celebrate who you are now, the birthday is a celebration of you as an individual, not you as a baby. Of COURSE I love the nativity story and remembering how Jesus was born for me, but that isn’t the sum of Christmas. So while Jesus and I walk an intimate relationship daily I can also enjoy the whole celebration of Christmas, the music playing in the stores, the buying of gifts for people I love, the decorations, and the unity the season brings to everyone, Christian and non-Christian alike. And no, I’m not offended by non-Christians who don’t act like Christians.
I’ve had some Christmas miracles already this year. I went with my sister recently to Sam’s Club to get her Christmas tree and we had a great time (even as we tried to get the full-sized tree into her back seat). We’d already had supper at her house so as we walked through Sam’s I wanted something sweet. I began to obsess over finding something but it’s all bulk items. I really wanted the four-berry ice cream but it’s a lot to eat and I don’t have the self-control not to eat it all. I became consumed over my need for a snack, scanning the shelves as I walked. Then, unbelievably, there it was. We were there at 8:00 in the evening, just an hour before they closed, and there was only ONE sample person left in the whole store. A young guy, so sweet, and his samples were FUDGE.
He let me sample 3 of the 4 different kinds he had (in nice-sized chunks), exactly enough to satisfy my craving. I think he was God’s chocolate angel placed there especially for me. (I need to figure out how to get the chocolate angel to come to my house …)
Another Christmas miracle arrived in the form of a gift of money. I thought to myself how I’d put it away for a rainy day, and it rained that very day! I had to get a new radiator hose, and there was God’s provision for it.
As I embrace this season Jesus is enjoying the celebration with me. I hope your Christmas is full of your own miracles and I hope you have a wonderful time celebrating your Bridegroom’s birthday with Him.
May you have the best Christmas ever!