Unwrapping His Presence
A few years ago I started making plans in November for the perfect Christmas. Our families lived out of town so inviting them to our new home for the holidays was a dream come true. The fact that they could all come at some point between Christmas and New Years was just short of a miracle!

Plans danced in my head as I thought about my mom, my brother and my husband’s parents dropping in. My dad and his wife were going to be here Christmas day and JJ's brother and his family were coming, too. However, by the time everyone got here, I couldn't wait for them to leave!

You see, I had gotten tangled up in Christmas lights and unrealistic expectations. My husband and children petitioned for colored lights on the tree that year! What? I don't do colored lights on the tree. I am a "white lights" kind of girl! Not only did they want colored lights, they had the audacity to vote for blinking colored lights, and they weren't kidding!! JJ then suggested that determining decorating schemes should be a "family activity." After seven years of white lights, what had gotten into him? Who was this man and why had this not been discussed during pre-marriage counseling? I seriously thought I was going to lose it. The control freak in me was freaking out! Don't get in the way of my perfect Christmas with white lights that make me and my home feel peaceful.

Attempts to have the perfect house, the perfect menu and the perfect table settings were stealing my holiday joy! This was my first time hosting a family holiday dinner, so I failed to notice that my
Christmas place mats didn't coordinate with my everyday cloth napkins and I didn't have festive napkin rings. Worst of all, I didn't know how to cook a turkey - I had never cooked a Christmas turkey. I had never cooked a Thanksgiving turkey or a July fourth turkey!

In the midst of all the holiday preparations and obligations (that I placed on myself), I experienced one of my worst Christmases. Oh, I had a full house but an oh so empty heart!

Christmas day I walked through my living room picking up wrapping paper and wondering why my dreams of a "perfect Christmas" hadn't come true. Everyone was here. Isn't this what I wanted? Kids running around with remote control cars, adults on the couch snoring to the tune of jingle bells, and grown men playing sidewalk hockey in the driveway?

Trying to escape the holiday noise, I went upstairs to my bedroom to read my Bible and restore my sanity. I could still hear them, so I tiptoed through my bathroom into my walk-in closet and sat in a corner hoping no one would find me.

Why was I so miserable? Weren’t we having a Christ-centered Christmas? We'd lit Advent candles and set out the nativity. I realized I'd been so focused on Christmas lights and table settings, that I'd forgotten to set a place at my table for Jesus, the Light of Christmas.

I opened to the book of Luke and read, "And she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped Him in cloths and placed Him in a manger because there was no room at the inn." (Luke 2:7) I closed my eyes and imagined Mary wrapping Jesus - like a gift. There has been no room at the inn of my heart, I thought.

As I opened my eyes, I glanced at the footnote referencing Isaiah 7:14, "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and you will call Him Immanuel, God with us."

Just like the gifts under my tree, I realized Jesus was waiting for me to unwrap His presence so He could lavish His peace and love on me! I had forgotten to unwrap the greatest gift of all - Imannuel, God with us. His presence was what I needed to have the perfect Christmas. His presence would bring peace to my heart and home, unlike anything white lights and matching table settings could bestow.

I bowed my head and unwrapped His presence in my closet that day. I invited Jesus to bring peace to my anxious heart. To bring His perspective to my expectations and to help me enjoy the gifts of my family that were waiting downstairs. It ended up being the best Christmas after all!

  • Do you ever get tangled up in expectations and preparations?
  • Do you have control issues with lights, decorations and perfect place settings?
  • What about secrets to enjoying a simple, Christ-centered Christmas?
  • In the holiday rush, how will you set aside time to experience His hush as you unwrap the gift of His presence?


Blogger Digging for Pearls said...

Thanks for this comment Renee. I have been stressing because I will have a full house for Thanksgiving and was wondering how I was going to get everything accomplished... I know I need to focus on Jesus - He is my reason to be thankful.

Blogger Heather@Mommymonk said...

It's good to start thinking about this now before our holidays get so crazy we forget what it's all about.

Blogger Lindsay said...

I needed to read this this morning!

Thank you for sharing your "God-given gift" of writing with the world!!

May this holiday season be one of the best you've ever had - finding yourself enthralled with Him, His goodness, His love, and His presence!!

Here's A few Secrets to enjoying a simpler stress free- Christmas:

1. Try roasting a standing rib roast instead of a turkey- no need to stuff it or clean it out first!
2. Have two trees- one with pure white lights and one with blinking colored lights and whatever else they want!
3. Pray- without ceasing!

Now please remind me of this, later, Renee!

Blogger jenna said...

Well, I just wrote a stately comment and when I had to sign up it was erased. I guess God wanted that one for me. It also felt like this message was for me as well. After having a few words with my mother about who she chooses to spend Christmas with (AGAIN), I came home so stressed...almost in tears. I sat down at the computer anr the first thing I read was Max Lucados message about imperfect families...even our Lord's family was not perfect. He reminded me that I have a perfect Father...then this message I "stumbled" on and how it made me think of all the time I have wasted trying to have the "perfect" Christmas as well as the perfect family....Now I have invited in His presence and my goodness what a different perspective God placed on my heart! Thank you Lord! So now, my biggest job is to take the steering wheel out of the wounded little girls hands and let Jesus take the wheel! Thank you for reminding me what is important....more of Him and less of me! Thank you and have a very blessed Christmas......In His Light.......Jenna @ SALT Women's Ministries; Cleveland, Ohio

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