When I was a little girl, Christmas was fun! And Christmas was filled with joy!
I remember hearing sleigh bells ringing outside our house in the dark of night. I saw Santa’s sleigh tracks in the middle of the front yard where he had landed his heavy sleigh and reindeer.
Early Christmas morning, we three kids woke early, wrapped ourselves in warm bathrobes, and quietly stepped down each step of the big stairway to our living room where we were welcomed by the brightly lit tree, enveloped with big, cone-shaped electric bulbs of red, blue, green, orange, and white. Sleepy Mommy and Daddy met us by the tree and then made that moment and the balance of our day so special! They imbedded each fun tradition with the true meaning of Christmas.
Many years later, when I was the young mother of little children, Christmas was fun! And Christmas was filled with joy!
Santa ate the cookies and drank the milk the children had set out. On Christmas Eve, their Daddy read the Christmas story from his Bible. Matt, Kristen, and Amber slept in their warm flannels and fleece, on the floor, their heads on pillows under the tree lights. They never heard Santa place the Detroit Lions football helmet, the Cabbage Patch dolls, the 4-wheeler Big Foot, or the Care Bears under the tree, just inches from their sweet, sleeping bodies. One Christmas, when Daddy was out of work and the money was scarce, he made a 4-wheeler track for Matt and a horse stable for the girls. Those gifts were appreciate just as much or more than the store-bought gifts. Every Christmas was fun and filled with joy!
But after the children were grown and moved away, Christmas was not as much fun any more. And Christmas was not filled with as much joy.
Family gatherings, once a vital part of the season, now had empty chairs, once held by special grandpas, grandmas, aunts, or uncles. Songs and carols, once heard on the old, blonde 78-rpm player, and later on the cassette tape or CD, now brought a lump to my throat and an emptiness to my heart. Now Christmas was fun only for the brief time the children came home. And now Christmas was joy only when I forced myself to find it.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
But then, in that loneliness, I began to take God at His Word and depend fully upon Him and upon His faithfulness! I learned to rejoice in the Lord always! (Philippians 4:4)
In the Word, I found a connection between joy and strength. I could be strengthened with all might, according to God’s glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness! (Colossians 1:11)
Strengthened . . . with joyfulness! Exactly what I needed!
I also read, the joy of the Lord is our strength! (Nehemiah 8:10)
So now, during the Christmas season, I find the joy that the Lord promises, and I let it strengthen me!
I find joy in remembering my father and mother and others who are gone. I cherish the legacy they left me.
I find joy in the arms of my faithful husband.
I find joy in my grown children who love and honor God.
I find joy in my eleven beautiful grandchildren.
And I find joy in a God who loves me and who grants me unmerited grace, increasing faith, and abundant hope through this year.
During the Christmas season, I will sing, “Joy to the world!”
finding joy that “The Lord is come!”
I will “receive” my “King!”
and “prepare Him room” in my heart,
and I will fill that room with the joy He promises in His Word!
Sing with joy and be strengthened!
“Joy to the world! The Lord is come!
Let Earth receive her King!
Let every heart ~~ prepare Him room,
and heaven and nature sing,
and heaven and nature sing,
and hea~ven and hea~ven and nature sing!”