My friends, I wonder if you are like me … do you feel that Christmas has become something completely “other” than what we originally deemed the date for in celebration of the birthday of the Christ’s birth on December 25?
Although it’s not the exact birthdate of Christ, the fact remains, we have set aside a time that is to be honoring of the biggest birthday that ever deserved to be celebrated. The gift of His birth was and is a massive gift to each of us that know Jesus Christ as Savior, and mostly as a reflection of the heart of the Creator Who knew this scrambled world needed a Deliverer even as long as 2000 years ago to effect all of eternity for so many. When we read through the book of Matthew, we learn He was born in a lowly way to a virgin mother, to die one day in a wicked excruciating manner on the cross, to rise from the dead, to breathe and flourish again in all of His perfection with those scars to prove it, so that we might live through Him and Him through us with forgiveness of sin and the dreaded consequence. This is the most spectacular treasured mega gift we could ever imagine receiving and we can barely conjure the full scope of the supernatural depth of this enormity, simply due to our finite minds.
With this in mind, during the year, as a part-time commercial decorator, I spend about ten months prepping for, negotiating contract terms for, staging ahead, then installing, and dismantling Christmas decorations and events for the commercial real estate properties of metro-Atlanta, Georgia, and in Birmingham, Alabama. My team and I have run like mad with roughly 50 or more properties each seasons to decorate as we have had for the last several years with a growing business, including work for famous recognizable business names, popular churches, and in gorgeous homes around the city. The demand this year alone, was exceptionally high with a booming economy.
However … regardless of the growth and the deep sense of gratitude I have for an economically viable business, the more I see the world focus on food and recipes, gift wrapping, Amazon/UPS/USPS deliveries, the perfect color and details for decor, traveling to family, prepping for this and that … and the more I have found that I need to remind myself, and others, the reason for the season. It’s entirely too easy to get lost in the beauty of the glitz, the mounting demands, the rush to get it all done, road rage for a parking space, the price tag that companies are willing to pay for a short decor season, and the crunch time of what we had planned for as far in advance as possible, now culminating into a blizzard of activity from late October through the beginning of the New Year. Exhaustion begins to overwhelm me, and soon enough, I am begging God to simply help my team and I “get through” this last part of the year. The time can easily get swallowed by difficulties rather than camping on “why we do this” … for the business.
This buzz of activity is not just for us as decorators, it’s also for you that plan in your homes with your families, meeting expectations on the Christmas wish list, traveling with the car stuffed full on long stretches of weather blitzed roads, having dug deep into our pockets to buy presents for the tree, while simultaneously squeezing in mega church activities, civic duties, donating to those that need, planning the perfect yummy dinner menus, and more … all of it gobbles up enormous energy. When it’s all said and done, we may look back at the season with warmth and appreciation, or maybe even sometimes feeling a little resentful that we got in so deeply in the way of demand. Maybe you did far more for them than they did for you and are now thinking never again, or are faced with some family issues that through a wrench into your plans. Some of you may simply be watching it all happen on the side lines, totally lonely, as everyone else “has someone”, but you may not be experiencing that personal touch by a loved one or someone else to love on. A part of Christmas can serve as a heart piercer rather than filling a heart full of joy.
For me personally, by the time we are done taking the last decorative morsel off the last tree, while packing the truck, and filling storage with an avalanche of goodies to hold until negotiating terms start in the early spring yet again, feeling rewarded, satisfied, deeply exhausted, a question still remains in my mind if my intentions were fully on Christ and keeping Him front and center of why I do what I do. I often am completely alone on Christmas day by choice, with one full day to rest due the fact on December 26th I have to begin dismantling all that went up, in a third of the time, running with a crew and big truck from place to place. What normally would have felt lonely to me at one time being alone on this day has morphed into a coveted time of rest for my bones, and a few minutes of “quiet” not having to drive or direct as a business owner. It’s just the Lord and me and the time I have with Him uninterrupted and for that I am entirely grateful!
The take away I have found is this, the enemy fights hard to keep things off-beat due to the fact that the Lord is to be high and lifted up. He’s jealous of the Lord, and don’t I know it! He would rather us focus on a fun “holiday” filled with “stuff” or even the tough experiences this season can bring rather than focus on Christ. The enemy delights that we are caught up in debt producing shopping so that he can keep us side tracked from the gift of “TIME” that we could spend simply commemorating Christ’s birth and the meaning of it all. He even loves it even if we have no one to buy for, or buy for us, rather than be filled with the awe and wonder of spending time with the most incredible Companion – the Holy Spirit of God, that anyone could covet to be with on a special day.
One of the most valuable gifts we can give back to Him, is time with the Father, eyes on Him, eyes off of our circumstances, less yielding to the demand of others and more holy time with Him. It takes our eyes off of our lack, it re-centers the reason for the season, and time with the Lord can supernaturally change us from within. It heal our bodies, produce a highly appreciate perspective, and can make us far more warm and filled due to the fact that Christ-mas is about CHRIST, not what we do to decorate, or eat, or who we give to, or who we are without, or or or … It’s about taking our eyes off of the here and now, and looking onward toward heaven and singing a Happy Birthday song to the One that longs to give us more than we ever could imagine. Remember what we do this time of year should always be hidden behind the cross for the reason of glorifying Him.
Happy Birthday to You
Happy Birthday to You
Happy Birthday dear Jesus
It’s all about You!
Photo courtesy: @Imagesbyreann, Design by ReAnn Ring for First Baptist Church Atlanta Decorated DMX Lit Wreath