Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Flowers

Some Christmases stand out more than others, and our first Christmas in the old farmhouse was one that I’ll never forget.

With only one large bathroom and two teenagers, we immediately set out to add another bathroom. Carpenter’s tools were strewn about the living room where gaily-wrapped presents should’ve been. My usual holiday spirit was buried deep beneath the never-ending layers of sawdust. The closer it came to Christmas the more I desperately wanted restoration – in my house and in my life.

One snowy day, while sorting through boxes of old wall d├ęcor in an attempt to make the place feel more like home, I suddenly got a longing for something new for the walls. However, with all the expenses of remodeling, there wasn’t money for non-necessities.

I tried to get over it but the longing only grew. I even prayed and asked God to take away the desire, but strangely, when I did, I immediately saw a clear vision in my mind of a beautiful dried-flower spray, full of shades of burgundy and pink. I shook my head in an attempt to make sense of what had just happened. The image was so vivid; there were even glitters of gold sparkling throughout it. I knew I had never laid eyes upon that spray, yet it had been clearly detailed in my mind.
The closer it got to Christmas, the more I thought about that floral wall display, almost looking for it with a sense of expectation.

At last it was Christmas morning. Even though I had told no one about my desire, I tried hard not to show my disappointment when the gifts were all opened and there were no flowers.

So, after putting the turkey in the oven I decided to pamper myself. I stayed in my robe (oblivious to the after Christmas mess), curled up on the sofa with my new book, and settled in for a comfortable read.

Suddenly my husband called from the kitchen, “Honey, were you expecting your mom and your sister?”

“Uh… no.” I had just seen both of them the night before, and besides, they always call before coming way out to our house.

But sure enough there was my mom carrying a plate full of goodies and my sister by the trunk of the car. I momentarily panicked, realizing there was no time to clear a path in our living room or to get dressed.

As my mother bounded through the front door she gave me a big hug, saying, “Your sister’s coming. She has something for you in the trunk.”

“What?”

None of this made sense. My sister Sue and I had not exchanged Christmas gifts since we were kids. I had nothing to give her.

Sue finally came inside, breathless, carrying a long, narrow box. She handed it to me, hugged me at the same time and excitedly exclaimed, “A co-worker makes these and I just had to get you one. I didn’t know what color to choose, but something told me to . . .”

With chills racing up and down my spine, I lifted the lid of the box. Without her needing to tell me the colors, I knew exactly what they would be . . . pink and burgundy . . . with a sparkle of gold throughout.

“Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago” ( Isaiah 25: 1).

Friday, December 17, 2010

He Sees You When You're Sleeping

He’s popping up all over the place. Now that his presence has been officially ushered in at the end of the Thanksgiving parades, that plump, jolly, white-bearded man in a fuzzy red suit will be found in every mall.

While some say Santa is a myth, many scholars agree that Santa Claus was actually a real man named Saint Nicholas. It was believed he was a 4th century Greek Christian bishop from the area that is now known as Turkey. Old St. Nick was a true saint; holy, charitable, and with a heart for the Lord evidenced by the way he sacrificially gave to others.

It can be hard to find fault with the likes of Santa; his personification is one of joy and giving. Still, it is a shame that many children (and even adults) know more about the mythical aspects of Santa Claus (where he lives, what he drives, and what his eight coursers names are); than they do about the real reason why we celebrate Christmas – the birth of Jesus Christ. The real reason for the season has become even more obscured over the years, yet ironically even St. Nick worshipped the One who was born of a virgin. St. Nicholas knew the price Jesus paid for redeeming sinners; he was so humbled by this fact that he dedicated his own life to being a blessing to others.

There is an image that has become popular in the past few years. You’ve probably seen it; Santa Claus removes his hat and is bowing down to the infant Jesus as He lies in His manger. It is a perfect reminder of the proper perspective that almighty God wants us to have. After all, one day every knee shall bow to the Lord (Romans 14:11).

Personally, I like the fun of including Santa Claus in the celebration of the birth of Jesus, but not at the expense of the Truth. Christmas should be one huge birthday party with Jesus in the center. Lest we forget, Jesus is the One who “sees you when you’re sleeping; He knows when you’re awake”. And He knows whether or not you truly love Him and whether you are truly sold out to Him. He knows whether He is a priority in your life or not. In actuality, Jesus knows us better than we know ourselves. The question that this season begs to ask is, how well do we know Him?

O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely (Psalm 139:1-4).
 
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