Who am I kidding? I spend most of December, probably like you, running around like crazy but wishing I could just stay buried under the covers. If I really let myself think about all that needs to be done, I’d be completely stressed instead of just a little stressed.
And yet, somewhere deep inside of me I know this isn’t how God intended our month of December to be. Christmas should be a celebration that focuses on the reason Jesus came into the world.
So this year I am trying . . . trying . . . trying . . . to slow down and focus on one word for Christmas. It’s a word that is only used four times in the entire Bible, but it’s a word that, if we truly think about it, can change our outlook on this season entirely.
In Matthew chapter 1, the angel Gabriel visits Joseph to tell him that his life is about to change in some pretty significant ways, and as he does so, Gabriel reminds Joseph of a long-told prophecy:
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel.”
Immanuel: God with us.
I find myself thinking a lot about that word these days. Immanuel.
What could be better than God with us, right here in our daily stress? What could be better than God walking with me through this month of hectic craziness?
What could be better than following a God who loved us enough to take on human flesh so that He could live among us?
Here’s what I know this month:
God is with me as I grade a huge stack of papers. (I’m a professor, and this time of year brings a lot of extra work for me.)
God is with me as I shop for gifts. (This is NOT my strong suit.)
God is with me as I entertain friends. (Fun! But still . . . )
God is with me as I prepare for my family to visit. (I can’t wait, but preparations have to be made.)
God is with me always. Immanuel.
And when I really focus on Immanuel, God with me, my perspective about everything changes.
The grading becomes ministry, not a burden.
The shopping becomes a reason to be grateful for all He has given to us.
The entertaining becomes time to grow closer to people we enjoy.
And time with family becomes a gift.
The truth is, everything will get done. It may not get done perfectly, but it will all get done. Some of the decorations may stay in boxes this year. Cards may not get sent out. But in the end, the minutes on the clock will tick-tock away and the Christmas season will breeze in and breeze out like a sudden gust of wind and will soon be gone.
Do I want to look back on December as a time of stress or a time of rejoicing? Do I want to wish the days away or savor time with friends and family?
I choose the latter.
Because of Immanuel—the greatest miracle, the biggest gift, and the hugest blessing God ever gave.
Himself. With us.