So, Christmas is coming. In less than two weeks, even. Already this season I’ve been asked if I’m “ready for Christmas.” Most are inquiring of my progress with the typical preparations—the gifts, the food, the décor. But Christmas is more than that—it’s when we celebrate God’s coming near to us in Jesus. And the question, “Are you ready for Christmas?” reminds me to check the state of my heart, if I am ready to pause, to remember, to worship the God who “became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood” (John 1:14, MSG).
As of today, I don’t feel ready. We talked about observing Hanukkah again. We discussed an Advent devotional. But intentions fell short on implementation. And that discrepancy between where I am and where I want to be causes no little amount of discouragement. My critics (inner = my flesh, outer = Satan) sing a chorus serenading me with accusations about the quality of my faith. And then I fear God will soon join and make it a trio.
It is true what A. W. Tozer purports in The Knowledge of the Holy:
“The whole outlook of mankind might be changed if we could all believe that we dwell under a friendly sky and that the God of heaven, though exalted in power and majesty, is eager to be friends with us. But sin has made us timid and self-conscious, as well it might. Years of rebellion against God have bred in us a fear that cannot be overcome in a day.” (83)
The dark clouds of sin and sadness formed from my discouragement cannot change what God has pronounced: that because of Jesus, the skies are friendly and friendship with God is possible. God came near to remind me that He is good and intends good toward me. Tozer continues:
“Christ walked with men on earth that He might show them what God is like and make known the true nature of God to a race that had wrong ideas about Him. This was only one of the things He did while here in the flesh, but this He did with beautiful perfection. From Him we learn how God acts toward people. The hypocritical, the basically insincere, will find Him cold and aloof, as they once found Jesus; but the penitent will find Him merciful; the self-condemned will find Him generous and kind. To the frightened He is friendly, to the poor in spirit He is forgiving, to the ignorant, considerate; to the weak, gentle; to the stranger, hospitable.” (84)
This is the crux of my Christmas celebration, the remembrance that because Jesus came near, I can begin to see God for who He is and not who I fear Him to be. Christmas is all about God coming near long ago and again today and in every minute I seek Him with His Spirit hovering and teaching the truth about who He is.
Oh, how I need more of that.
So yes, I am ready for Christmas to come near to me. Come quickly, Lord Jesus.