December arrived and Christmas settled around me like a funk. In order to shake it, I hauled the tree down from the attic and let my kids decorate it, I read different gospel accounts of the Christmas story every morning, played Christmas music at full volume in the car and the house and then I begged God to help me make it through the day.
Then I decided that I needed to do something to shake the blues because it was “the most wonderful time of the year.” I’d already had a funky year. I did not want a funky Christmas. So I decided a plan was in order.
The plan I came up with: shopping. I would begin my Christmas shopping and that would make me jolly. After returning home from day one, I felt a tiny bit of relief. After a few days, I felt giant relief. After a week, I felt stressed.
Let’s just say I was a little too jolly. I purchased a Santa-sized sled full of gifts. I’m the disorganized woman who just a few years ago ran out of time to bring gifts to my parents when we went to their house for Christmas dinner. I’m the practical voice of reason in this family who let grandparents lavish the kids when they were too young to really care. I'm the practical voice of reason in this family. Sometimes.
I came home yesterday, called a truce with my Christmas list and a moratorium on spending as I perused my heart. I wanted to know why I bought my children a mountain of gifts, stuff they can use but don’t really need. I went overboard in a way I had previously abstained.
I began to wonder if it was a shopping addiction, a crazy release of stress or just plain wrong. I asked God to search my heart.
I confessed I may have gotten a little too caught up in the excitement of blessing my kids this Christmas. I thanked God that I am healthy and able to shop for my kids this Christmas. I asked God’s forgiveness for spending more than was really necessary.
Then I opened my Bible. The gospel I have settled on this Christmas season is John. John’s version of the Christmas story isn’t your typical baby Jesus nativity story. John takes us from creation to resurrection in eighteen verses. John starts at the beginning of chapter one and immediately brings revelation to the mystery of who Jesus Christ is and explains how we can know God.
My heart rested on these words, “We all live off his generous bounty, gift after gift after gift.” (John 1:16 The Msg)
And I knew.
I purchased my children so many gifts because I want to give to them extravagantly. I want them to know Jesus and live off of the bounty He gives. In an effort to demonstrate my great love for my children, I bought them lots. Now, there might be truth in all the other things I mentioned too, but at the heart of my spending is my unconditional and never-ending love for my kids.
So I started praying that my children will receive these gifts with thankful hearts and that they will give out of their bounty this Christmas and I’m praying that I will be the first in my family to demonstrate this. And when I take in the bounty that He’s given me, the funk seems to just lift itself.
The Word became flesh and blood,
and moved into the neighborhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes,
the one-of-a-kind glory,
like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out,
true from start to finish…
We all live off his generous bounty,
gift after gift after gift.
John 1:14 & 16 The Msg