My Christmas would be Perfect if snow would coat just the trees and rooftops, but not the streets and sidewalks. (I’d like to be able to drive my car.) My Christmas would be Perfect if everyone in my family was healthy. No coughs, no infections, no queasiness, no aches. My Christmas would be Perfect if Christmas goodies didn’t have any calories or consequences for the new year. My Christmas would be Perfect if my whole family could attend a Christmas Eve candlelight service or a world class Christian cantata, together I might add. My Christmas would be Perfect if gift-giving wasn’t laced with the pressures of time and space and expectations and finances. My Christmas would be Perfect if I wasn’t a slave to my own self-centered sense of perfection. My. My. My. Oh my! My Christmas would really be Perfect if I didn’t start every thought or sentence with “My.”
This is not just about getting a mindset-adjustment, but it’s about experiencing a true sense of joy because of what Christmas really is.
There is a great Christmas song by Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant called “Almost There.” The lyrics inspire believers to take Mary’s perspective: “All hope is in the Son…Pray for strength to do your part, You’re almost there…You’re almost where the waiting ends… The answered prayer, Emmanuel…where the journey ends, where death will die and life begins.”
Romans 8:1-4 says, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” Without being able to credit the author, I heard the quote this week that “Christians live twice and die once, and unbelievers die twice and live once.” Is this not an amazing truth?
Psalm 37:18 says, “The blameless spend their days under the Lord’s care, and their inheritance will endure forever.” Believers are the “un-condemned.” Believers are eternally secure in God’s love. Believers know why Christmas is so important – an “all year long” reality.
When I think of Emmanuel, I don’t need a Winter Wonderland. While I personally know the One who is the Healer, sickness reminds me that there is hope for the future. When I think of cookies and cakes, I remember the sweetness of the Creator who provided food for our nourishment. When I think of Heaven, I remember the beauty of music and worship without hearing a literal choir. When I think of gifts – I remember that it truly is the loving thoughts that count and have value in eternity.
Emmanuel, “God with us,” is the enduring miracle of Christmas! Real life is the gift we have only in Jesus – “an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade (I Peter 1:4).” God’s Spirit gives us assurance that Christmas is not just a dream, but an unimaginable reality. Like Mary, we’re almost there. We’re almost where the waiting ends. Believe.
Every Christmas, I want to put my selfish expectations of perfection into the grip of God’s Word to be overcome by the Spirit of Truth. A Christmas miracle. Like Mary, I am almost there. The prayer has been answered. Emmanuel.