Do you ever feel as if, just when the approaching holidays are supposed to make everything merry and bright, that instead a pressure cooker has been turned on? Does the pace of your already busy schedule become increasingly frenetic as you desperately attempt to cover all the bases, buy gifts for those you love and those you wish to honor in some way, write cheerful greetings to those far away, and ensure everyone’s favorite food is featured at the Christmas table? On the other hand, if this past year has included suffering and loss, the gaping hole in your heart may seem to expand during the holiday season, and the empty silence screams for your attention as decorations grow garishly offensive. Whichever extreme you are experiencing, you may simply wish for all the holiday hoopla to be past.
All the while, whether frenzied or fainting, we long for peace, simplicity, and a sense of restful fulfillment… yet the tyranny of the season continues to assault our senses. In the meantime, a gift waits for us, a gift that has arrived in packaging we can easily admire and approach, yet a gift that we too often fail to open completely. Emmanuel, God-With-Us, arrived swaddled in the wrapping of human flesh. He was, at least in His initial presentation, adorable and endearing — a mere baby. This Baby in the manger attracts us and invites us to approach Him. His power, forgiveness, grace, glory, and authority wait to be unwrapped by those of us who can muster ourselves to draw near to Him. Unfortunately, in my hasty preparations for the holiday, how easily I shove the first and best Gift to the back of the tree, inadvertently postponing an encounter with the One who promises to fill and free me!
Jesus, thank You for beckoning me to the manger, every day and every moment; thank You for inviting me to unwrap the Gift of Your Presence. You always stand at the door of my heart and knock. Thank You for Your persistent, tender invasion of my soul. Thank You for Your redeeming power, even in this swirling storm of activity, You are Lord, indeed, whether, at a given moment, I perceive Your voice or not. Help me to listen and hear You. Empower me to open the Gift of You; You never leave me or forsake me, and You alone are the source of joy that remains!
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” Revelation 3:20 (ESV)