It’s the most wonderful time of year…right? When the angels announced to the shepherds glad tidings which will be a source of great joy for all people! When time seems to suddenly warp into overdrive and we are left stressing over spending budgets, which dessert to bring, when to fit in all the shopping, what to get for your eldest most difficult child, and why there is never enough tape in the house.
I have noticed a collective negativity at work lately – everyone is tired and needs a break but the break we are anticipating comes along with so many demands to make the season jolly and bright that we end up racing through it instead of strolling merrily through acts of meaningful remembrance.
And the truth is that this season is all about remembering. All holidays in fact are about remembering something significant that merits a time of pause and contemplation every year.
As I enter another countdown to Christmas day I was challenged by God’s word to chase, protect and live in a place of JOY this year. After all, it is one of the most joyful seasons!
We have beautiful songs and decorations, fun treats to eat, the anticipation of gifts given and the times with loved ones. What’s not to love? Why would I need to FIGHT for joy? Shouldn’t it just flow effortlessly this time of year?
It turns out that when more demands are placed on me I don’t always handle the stress of the expectations very gracefully. Life at it’s normal pace is often overwhelming and just trying to find fifteen minutes to write down my thoughts requires rising at very unnatural times of the day. So when more gets added to the plate – as wonderful as it may be – the delicate balancing act I play with my sanity is threatening to fall apart.
But I don’t want to allow myself to be grinchy, grouchy or otherwise bah-humbuggy and miss the reason I have for joy – not just this season but all year.
So how can I fight for Joy and instead of spreading stress, live out of a sense of clarity and focus on the beautiful main event that I am celebrating?
It’s all about remembering.
How I was without Him. Before I knew He loved me. When I didn’t understand how the fact that His coming to earth as a baby was the ultimate commitment to us, the most prodigal act of love and the definitive exclamation point ending the forever question mark of my insecurity. YES! I love you! Are you sure? Do you even know me?
I know EVERYTHING about you – I watched your cells divide inside your mothers womb – and I delight in you.
He came so that there would be NO doubt that God is loving, wants to be in relationship with us – His creation – and will stop at nothing to prove His beautiful intention of taking away all of the darkness that oppresses us, that hurts us and steals our joy.
He came to break the chains of the prisoners, to set the captives free, to sing a song of love to our souls and to remind us of the fact that we are NEVER alone and that we are surrounded by this good news everyday. There is constant cause for rejoicing.
Joy is our birthright when we are awakened into the family of God. When we realize that Jesus came to bring us into this spiritual and everlasting belonging. We are no longer orphans but children of a lavish God. Our future is secure. Our present has no cause for concern or stress. Our souls can rest in the beautiful reason for the season. He came for us. God with us.
And if God is with us, who or what can stand against us? What will I allow to steal my joy? Nothing.
So to fight for joy is to constantly remind myself of the powerful truths this time of remembrance brings. When the season itself seems to take over like a giant snow monster, I will put it back in its place and remind it that it is here for NO OTHER REASON than to point me to the ultimate source of joy and to renew and replenish my sense of this joy. Not for me to serve it and meet all of its demands. It is here to serve MY purpose of remembering.
So while this countdown is happening, may you cultivate holiday moments that point you towards JOY, that remind you of the things you want to focus on, and that banish the stressful, commercially-driven expectations of perfect decorations, gifts and hors-d’oeuvres. The holiday is here to serve us in remembering what holds eternal meaning. Fight for the JOY Christ brought us at Christmastime. It is the only gift we need to unwrap in order to have a very merry Christmas.