I can't believe it's December already! This year seemed to have flown by me so fast. It wasn't easy being away from our kids since March of this year, much so being away from them when all around us "begins to look a lot like Christmas". I sometimes can't help but feel sad when I hear Christmas carols and see Christmas lights and decorations knowing that me and my husband, Ryan, will be spending the holidays away from our children. It may be because we've all been so accustomed to the traditions we have during the Christmas season where we find families gathering together for the holiday. Christmas trees decorated with colorful glass balls and yellow lights warm up the scene of the living rooms in houses. Gift boxes will soon line the floor around the Christmas tree and laughter and cheers will soon be shared as a family enjoys the season in each other's company. I know for sure my little boy, Ryan, gets so excited as soon as decorating for Christmas comes up. (Well, they still had their share of excitement back home in the Philippines as they put up their Christmas lights with their "daddilo"/grandpa & "mommilo"/grandma.)
When everyone around starts to get on with the hustle and bustle of the season, I can't help but stop and think if it is really all that matters. I feel sad being away from our kids this Christmas, alright, but somehow it's not just because I can't be there to see their faces when they open their presents. There is something else that stirs me inside into thinking beyond the "Christmas" thingamajigs that we so often focus on during this time of the year. What I want for Christmas this year is something more than what we put out as decorations at home. What I want for my family & friends is something bigger than the lanterns and wreaths we hang out on our front doors. It's something more important that the recipes we are going to use for this year's "Noche Buena". What I wanted was for all of us to look beyond the glitters of the Season and see the very core of this time's celebration. All I want for Christmas is for all of us to step back and ponder on the greatest gift we all could ever have in this lifetime, the gift of JOY. This is beyond the merriment that we put ourselves in as we celebrate the holidays. "Joy to the world!" as we sing it. Have you ever spent a little time asking yourself "Why?"
"For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given... And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6)
"For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16)
"The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy..." (Isaiah 9:2-3)
When the rest of humanity was doomed to destruction as darkness swallows all of us because of the sin that has come into the world and into each of our hearts, God made a way for us to be reconciled to Him. He had to send His only Son, Jesus Christ, to be crucified and to die on our behalf. Why? Because not one ounce of sacrifice and good deed on our part could ever suffice to the requirement of God for the atonement of our filthy, wretched, grotesque sinful nature. The bible tells us "we all have sinned."We all deserve Hell because our God is not only a God of Love, but He is a Just God as well. And because He is Just, He has to hate sin and have sinners like us face our consequences and be thrown to damnation for all eternity. Yet our God is also abounding in love and with this love He gave His Son, Jesus, to become our way out of the grip of Satan. He was born on earth to become man like all of us and to suffer death like the rest of us. On that cross, He bore our sins and received God's wrath on our behalf. But our joy lies in Jesus' victory over death since he also was God! That is why on the third day He rose again, breaking all the chains of Satan and Death and offering the grace of Salvation to all who believes in Him. Jesus is the only reason for any celebration that has something to do with the Christmas season. Not Santa Claus, not the presents, not Frosty the Snowman nor the lights or the decorations; not even family.
We REJOICE in knowing that God has made a way for all of us when there seemed to be no way. JOY, as defined in dictionaries is the emotion of great happiness and contentment. I like it best how the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it. It is "the emotion evoked by the prospect of possessing what one desires." Aren't you tired of running after various things that would satisfy your desires in vain? Listen to what Jesus said in John 15:10-11:
"If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete."
We may never realize it, but the only desire of our souls will be to have fellowship with our Maker, our God. The only desire our souls carry is to be reconciled with our Father in heaven. Jesus will give us HIS JOY (which is the fellowship and reconciliation with God) if we obey Him and remain in Him. And with this, our Joy - our source of greatest happiness and contentment and desire in this life, will be complete as we live reconciled with God knowing that we will soon have eternal life with Him through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. There will then be no need for us to struggle and search and grope around this world for contentment. No matter where we are and no matter what our circumstances be, if we have Christ in us, our Joy is complete.
My prayer this Christmas Season is that you & yours will meet with the source of your greatest happiness, contentment and desire.
I wish you and yours JOY, through Jesus Christ, this CHRISTmas season and always.