Don’t be content with a ‘nice’ Christmas

A number of years ago, we had a string of hard years and though the years were tough, the Christmas seasons were even harder.  One year we had a car accident on our way back from our single Christmas shopping day.  Suddenly we had to shop for a vehicle before and after Christmas day…with half of us sick with the flu.  Another season had an ugly issue that was carried way too far, making me scared for my own protection.  The next Christmas, my mother died.  The next…I was in a wheelchair.  Seriously??   I found myself not celebrating Christmas so much as stealing myself for the entire month of December.  One day that last year, I just cried out to God in frustration, “I just want a nice Christmas!!”  I heard Him prompt my spirit with , “Really?  THAT’S what you want?”  I was immediately ashamed.

A “nice” Christmas isn’t what He even wishes for us!  It wasn’t the selfishness of my request so much as the meagerness of it that caught me up short. What did I really mean by ‘nice’, anyway?  That life went smoothly?  That no one got sick, where everyone behaved themselves, that our possessions not only remained but increased?   Really?  Deep down, I wanted a pristine December where everything and everyone matched the ideal in my head.

Quietly,  Jesus patiently waits.  He watches us wish for a thimble of water when He has given us nothing less than the ocean of himself (Manning).  How can I ask or hope for anything more?  Because of salvation, He has given me everything I’ll ever need.  He even throws in bountiful blessings besides.  So each Christmas I need to remind myself that I can let go of my paltry expectations.  He can bring into my life what He knows I need – good or bad.

So this Christmas, I want to forget the vanity of the world and remember that this season isn’t about hoping for a nice one, but knowing that He is very much alive and actively loving us each day, giving us what we need and promising His presence as our only essential present. 

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Our God box

fall 2013

This is our humble little God box.  We began it years ago after we realized how tangibly God was meeting our felt needs.  Desiring to keep a record of them, I spent time after Christmas each year, writing down all the ways in which God had shown His nearness to our family.  Thankfully, the year we began, one of our elementary school sons brought home the sweet, smaller box re-purposed from a used Christmas card. It sure was cute but I had no idea how to use the thing.  Until an idea came.  How proud my little boy was when his box held our first listing of God’s faithfulness to our family.

When they were small, it was so precious to see the kids’ illegible scribblings as they write down their requests or thanks to God, usually with a “prvet” on the front.  So adorable.  Sometimes they asked big questions about heaven or why someone died.  This past Christmas we each wrote a thanks and a request.  I peeked at one and saw that the Lord waited only 4 weeks to provide for the expressed need.

I must admit, we have sometime forgotten that the box exists, so accustomed to seeing it in its corner.  But tonight, over dinner, we’ll open it and distribute paper.  We do this because it’s so automatic to ask in our daily prayers.  What’s not automatic is noting His answer and acknowledging His follow-through.  It seems we need to write them down and hold them in a special place in order to have a place in which we can remind ourselves that He is indeed listening – and answering- all the time.

So, we will write down our needs because right now, collectively, the Likkel family has a big need.  At least, from our point of view we do.  So God, we need you.  We’ll wait on you to provide.  It might not be what we expect or hope for, but either way, we know You’re listening and Your storehouse of goodness overflows.  And someday, maybe years from now, we’ll open up our God box and marvel at how you came through for us once again.