Christmas is almost here! In a few hours my husband and I, together with our eldest daughter and son-in-law, will begin the long drive to southern Alberta to celebrate Jesus’s birthday with my 85-year-old mom and my brother’s family. It’s been 16 years since we made that trek through the Rockies—the lapse due mostly to a few too many incidents in times past with black ice and frozen motors.
One year we drove a Volkswagen van. The diesel motor froze, and we had no block heater to help cope with sub-zero temperatures. Before we could head back to the west coast, my dad thawed the motor by placing a Hibachi barbecue under the van for several hours.
We spent New Year’s Eve in a hotel in the mountains. We had to idle the motor all night so we could complete the trip home in the morning.
Ice covered the van windows—on the inside. We wrapped our three little kids in their winter coats and sleeping bags to stay warm. Gene drove while I scraped ice so we could see out the windows. Oh my, the stuff of which memories are made! We’re hoping this year’s trip will be boring in comparison.
Anyway, this Christmas season has been an unusual one for us. In past years we’ve participated in Christmas-related events for weeks prior to December 25. We attended dramas at local churches, driven through the community at night to see the lights and live nativity scenes, watched the grandkids participate in their Sunday school program, and more.
This year’s been quiet on that front. Perhaps that’s because we spent the majority of the fall traveling for ministry and we just needed to stay home and recharge. Last weekend I wrapped a few gifts while listening to Christmas carols, and that was enough to feed my soul.
The quiet has been good. It’s given me opportunity to reflect on Christmas without clutter. It’s helped me refocus on the reality of Emmanuel—God with us—and what that really means on a day-to-day basis. It’s given me time to ponder God’s love—a love so compelling, so passionate, so unfailing that it motivated Him to clothe Himself in humanity and take up residence on earth.
Yes, God became man and moved into the neighborhood. He became like us in every way, excluding the sinful part, because He values us and yearns for relationship with us. His actions cut the chains of sin and its destructive, deadly influence in our lives.
We’re forgiven and free! We need no longer fear death—now it’s merely the portal through which we must pass to reach home. We need no longer be held captive to addictions or shame or insecurity or fear. We need no longer struggle with those lousy attitudes and behaviors that complicate our lives. Instead, we’re free to embrace life as fully as God intended and to aspire to His highest purposes and plans.
In the midst of the hustle and bustle that accompanies this season, let’s remember what Christmas celebrates: Emmanuel—God with us. God reaching out to us by becoming one of us. God stooping to show us love that surpasses anything we could ever imagine. God bringing hope and victory and freedom not because we deserve it but because He cherishes us.
As you celebrate the season, take a moment to think about these words, found in Zephaniah 3:17: “For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty Savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”
Emmanuel – God with us. Amazing.
Ponder what God’s presence means to you this season, my friend. And celebrate with joy! And–oh yeah–check back here next Friday for part 2 of Monday’s blog based on Proverbs 30:7-9. I’d planned to write that for today’s post but completely forgot in light of this being Christmas weekend and packing for the trip to Alberta.
#bgbg2 #ChristmasDevotion #GodWithUs