In ten days time, our family will be celebrating Christmas. Our boys can not wait. Our plastic Christmas tree is up and all decorated. Living in South Africa, and enjoying the warm summer temperatures, there is no way a real tree would make it over here. The boys are eagerly counting down the days with our Advent calendar. In addition, our family is reading Advent devotionals each week and lighting candles in expectation of Jesus Christ’s birthday. For our family, we love this special time of year and relish every moment.
I confess I’m pretty homesick this time of year too. I love how my home church celebrates Christmas. It was an incredible blessing to be back in Oregon last year during the Advent season. Being with my family and friends really blessed my soul.
It was a very special time; one that I will never forget.
For some, this time of year is very difficult though. Reasons abound for why friends, family members and others find the Advent season to be such a challenging time. A long time ago, I felt the same way. I was hurt by some one during the time leading up to Christmas. In fact, because of that betrayal, I began an arduous journey with my God that would require me to end a relationship and begin an entirely new life. A year later, when Christmastime came, I saw it as an anniversary of pain and loss. The second year, I still felt the sting of the open wound of my heart. I hadn’t healed yet. However, when the third Christmas approached, I was not hurting anymore. My God had done a transformational work in my life over these three years. I decided it was time to take Christmas back and reframe it.
Because of some painful, personal circumstances, I was blinded to the true significance and wonder of Christmas. I had focused upon my pain, instead of focusing upon the blessing of Emmanuel in my life. When I woke up to this truth, I was finally set free from the bondage of my painful past.
That year, I had an incredible Christmas. My soul was filled with joy that my Savior had come to Earth to release me from the very things that had bound my heart for the past few years. It wasn’t a time to grieve, but to celebrate!
As I write these words, I am well aware of the fact that there are others who find this time of year to be just as painful….maybe even more so. As I was praying for some one I care about who finds Christmas to be filled with difficult childhood memories of Christmas Past, I was gifted with an idea. Instead of thinking back on what was lost or things that happened that never ever should have, and being chained to those memories of hurt, I want to challenge my loved one to set a new course. I want to ask them to take the remaining ten days before Christmas to be a messenger of love and praise.
We gave this same challenge to our boys this week. We lit the Angel Candle yesterday. In the devotional we read, the author wrote about how the angels brought messages of praise and love to mankind. In fact, on the occasion of the birth of Jesus, an entire choir of angels proclaimed their love and praises to God. We asked our boys to consider what kind of messages they want to give to others this week.
Jake chose the message of love.
Micah chose the message of service and humility.
Caleb chose the message of encouragement.
So, for the next ten days before we celebrate the birthday of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, we have asked our sons to share these messages with their family and those they encounter in the next ten days.
How will they do it?
It’s up to them.
Words, notes, emails, actions, and more can be utilized to share the love, service, humility and encouragement that others need this time of year…actually anytime of year.
So, my friends, what about you? If you are some one who finds this time of year to be something you just endure instead of being able to embrace its wonder, would you consider taking the next ten days to be a messenger of praise and love to those around you? They may need a word of blessing more than you even know or realize.
For I can tell you, when I was experiencing my time of anguish during Christmas, I kept those feelings primarily to myself. My pain, my shame, my sorrow, and my tender, sensitive heart kept me quiet. When others reached out to me during this miserable time, with messages of love and praise, I was blessed. Truly blessed.
So, Friends, let’s give some one a call.
Let’s write a note.
Let’s drive over for a visit.
Let’s send some flowers.
Let’s send an email of encouragement.
Let’s give a hug or two.
Let’s pay it forward.
Let’s send a message of love and praise to some one and tell them how special they are!
Whether you write or say it or not, let’s help them recognize that this is a special time to love and celebrate the coming of the One who understands their pain and suffering more than any other. Jesus Christ came to meet their need and be with them during every step of their difficult journey in this season and can ultimately transform it. I know it can happen. My Savior did it for me.
Let’s make an effort for the next ten days to look beyond ourselves to acknowledge the needs of some one else who may need a message of love, hope, blessing, and encouragement.
Will you join us?
You never know who in your midst may need a word of love and praise….
Photo by LoveRenewed of Flickr