I entered into this Advent season, fully loaded, with a bullet proof plan of how we were going to embrace the “less is more” concept during the time leading up to Christmas and we were going to be armed and ready when facing the many temptations to get caught up in the excessive gift giving mode and the commercialization of the season. There was no elf on our shelf, cookie exchange on our calendar or lots of festive obligations to keep us running in the fast lane like we have in past years. We were going to center ourselves and our activities around the true reason for the season.
I was very convicted by the Holy Spirit this week on multiple accounts and at varying degrees. It was like an all-consuming tidal wave washing over me at once. Every emotion was evoked and every sense was engaged. There was no denying that the Lord was trying to get my attention. Everywhere I turned on social media, I was being bombarded with louder and louder knocks on the door of my heart. Two words, in BIG, BOLD LETTERS might as well have been trailing behind the Good Year Blimp across the sky with my name written beside them… GRATITUDE and PRESENCE (not presents).
This past week I found out I was going to be the lucky recipient of a very expensive, ultra-luxurious gift that any woman would be elated to receive for Christmas (cue the sarcasm!) My posh “mom van” was getting an awesome Christmas upgrade…a brand new Torque Converter! I know, I know…please try to hold your excitement and don’t let the green monster of jealousy ruin our friendship. I realize that many of you would love to get transmission work put under the Christmas tree or in your stocking but its only reserved for a select special few. This “gift” was so unique, I had never even heard of it before and it must be something special because the exquisite price tag was big enough to take my breath away!
Let’s get real here for a second…in my mind, this was NO gift at all!
Or was it?
Without this repair, I could be driving down the interstate, with my kids in tow, and my car could conch out without warning. Talk about a scary reality. Without this repair, I would not have a vehicle to drive my kids to school and their activities, we would not be able to drive to get our groceries, attend Sunday worship or to meet a friend for coffee. Bam! Then the reality and conviction hit me like a line drive square between the eyes…BUT… “I have a car”. Matter of fact, for our small family of 4, we have not one but TWO reliable vehicles! What began as a pity party crashed by a major inconvenience, evolved into an eye opening lesson on gratitude and presence.
How often do we chum up with negative Nelly Sue and use our Grinch filter to view our circumstances when unexpected, unwanted things come our way instead of taking the opportunity to seek the GIFT in the moment? Now hear me, I still think a torque converter is a lousy thing to get for Christmas! However, this repair gave me the gift of safety and peace of mind when shuttling my family from place to place. This new car part gives me the flexibility, independence, and convenience of being able to freely go from place to place a whole lot faster than my own 2 feet could carry me. Simply having my own vehicle to fix is a huge blessing but one that I take for granted each and every day! Owning a vehicle is a luxury. Yet, when it ceased to serve me well, it became coal in my stocking! How easy it is to lose our perspective and to hang our gratitude out to dry.
In the hustle and bustle of this time of year, it is so easy to get distracted and be abducted into the rat race of the holidays and the “grinchy” cynicism. If we aren’t intentional and vigilant with our thoughts, our time and our heart’s desires, we may miss the true gift of Christmas altogether…
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6, NIV).
As we prepare our hearts for the birth of our Savior, have you stopped and given any thought to what Jesus might want to receive for His birthday? In this week’s sermon, our Pastor said it perfectly, yet simply, “it is what Jesus wants for you, not from you.” What is the status of your heart this Advent season? Is it overwhelmed, distracted and unsatisfied? Or, is it open, grateful and present? I want to suggest that the best present we can give is the gift of our presence so that we will be in a position to receive the gift of His precious presence in our lives.
When Jesus arrives and knocks at the door of your heart, will He encounter a sign that says, “NO vacancy-there is no more room at the inn?” Or will He knock and be received with His room already prepared in advance for His arrival?
“Let every heart prepare Him room…”
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