In my devotion featured at Proverbs31.org and Crosswalk.com today, I shared about the year I planned for the perfect Christmas and how I almost missed what God had planned for me. Click on the title if you'd like to read "Unwrapping His Christmas Presence
My sadness caught me by surprise that day. I thought if I got to be with all of my family eating holiday meals, opening gifts and celebrating, it would be the perfect Christmas. But there was something missing.
When Christmas day came, my house was full yet my heart felt oh-so-empty. It wasn't until I snuck upstairs and sat in my walk-in closet talking to God and reading my Bible that my mind was quiet enough to untangle my thoughts and process my disappointments.
That afternoon I realized I had been trying to turn my childhood Christmas disappointments into grown-up dreams come true.
You see, my family wasn't all together for Christmas when I was growing up. My parents were divorced, so we spent our Christmas day with one or the other. Usually after all the gifts were opened and toys were played with, I felt sad as a child and always wondered why. I think I just wanted us to ALL be together. And 25 years later, as an adult, I was sure that getting my wishes was going to give me the perfect Christmas feeling I was trying to create.
I wanted all those longings from long ago to be fulfilled that Christmas day in 1999. Yet the longings were still there because I was looking to something that couldn't give me what I longed for, not as a little girl or as a grown woman.
What I longed for was the presence of God's Peace. What I needed was the gift of His perspective. What I craved was a renewed sense of His purpose. But I was so focused on all the people and presents that I honestly forgot to unwrap the most important present- the gift of
Sitting in my closet realizing what had happened, I sensed God saying it wasn't too late. The gift of His presence was still there, always there, waiting to be unwrapped and enjoyed. So I told Jesus about the longing in my heart and how I needed and wanted Him to fill it. His peace came, washing away my anxiety and disappointment. Reminding me of His forever love and abiding presence. As I shared in my devotion today, it ended up being the perfect Christmas after all.
In the year that followed, a Christmas prayer was birthed in my spirit and ended up on the tip of my pen. By the following December it became my Christmas gift to Him. Today I'd like to share it with you ~
The Manger of My Heart
This Christmas, Lord, come to the manger of my heart.
Fill me with your presence, from the very start.
As I prepare for the holidays, and gifts to be given,
Remind me of the gift You gave,
when you sent Your Son from Heaven.
The first Christmas gift, the greatest gift ever,
You came as a baby born in a manger.
Wrapped like the gifts I find under my tree,
Waiting to be opened, to reveal Your love to me.
This Christmas, Lord, come to the manger of my heart.
Search me and know the most intimate parts.
Reveal to me if I have ever hung a sign within,
Claiming it off limits, implying “no room at the Inn.”
Restore to me the wonder that came with Jesus’ birth,
when He left the riches of Heaven
and wrapped Himself in rags of earth.
Emmanuel, God with us, Your presence came that night.
As angels announced, “Into your darkness,
God brings His Light.”
“Do not be afraid,” they said, to shepherds in the field.
Speak to my heart today, Lord, and help me to yield.
Make me like those shepherd boys, obedient to your call.
Casting distractions and worries aside,
to You I surrender them all.
Surround me with Your presence, Lord,
I long to hear your voice.
Clear my mind of concerns and all the holiday noise.
Slow me down this Christmas, let me not be in a rush.
In the midst of parties and planning,
I want to feel Your hush.
This Christmas, Jesus, come to the manger of my heart.
Invade my soul like Bethlehem, bringing peace to every part.
Dwell within and around me,
as I unwrap Your presence each day.
Keep me close to You, Jesus.
It’s in your wonderful Name I pray.
© 2010, Renee Swope ~ www.ReneeSwope.com
(Feel free to print or share this prayer by copying it with copyright and the link to my website please, and then paste into another document.)**********************************A "Christ-Centered Christmas Give-away"
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