A Childlike Sense of Expectation
Despite the expense and intricate coordination that that many of us associate with the Christmas season, it remains a favorite holiday. Some never lose that sense of expectation and wonder that began with childhood Christmases: lights twinkling on frosty neighborhood lawns as carolers strolled the streets, the scent and beauty of the living room Christmas tree, the aroma of festive food coming from the kitchen, and heaps of presents under the tree on Christmas morning. December was a magical month for those of us so blessed in childhood. For others, however, Christmas was anything but wonderful. Anyone in law enforcement will tell you that reports of domestic violence are greatest during the holidays.
Whatever your childhood Christmases were like, you might have noticed that there’s just something about Christmastime, a certain wonder, which, even when marred by sin, reflects something of the wonder known by the shepherds and the wisemen who saw the star of Bethlehem. The long-awaited coming of Christ is what underlies the wonder, the expectation, that something long hoped for is near. Despite the commercialization of Christmas and its overall worldly cast, God still infuses that wonder into the season.
If you recall the sense of joyful expectation from childhood Christmas, then you have tasted something of what God wants for his people all the time in every season. God wills that we live in constant expectation of his appearing. We are to look for him in his word, in his providences in our daily lives, in our sorrows, in our needs, and in our failures. He comes to us in Christ in all these things, but we miss him because we aren’t looking for him, just as we miss the “real meaning” of Christmas when we’re caught up in entertaining and gift-giving.
Marvel at What Christ Has Done
Are we characterized by the wonder of what Christ has done? If not, perhaps it’s because we are busy trying to solve our problems in our own way on our own terms. Why look for what God will do if we can simply figure out how to do it ourselves? Self-sufficiency in the Christian life will never bring joy, and it checks hope at the door. We have little wonder because much of the time we don’t really want a savior; we want autonomy, self-sufficiency, and for life to work as we think it should. But the promise is that the God of hope will fill us with joy and peace in believing, not in getting it all figured out ourselves.
God wills that we live in constant expectation of his appearing.
Do you recall the joyful expectation of Christmas past? Do you realize you can live with it every day of the year once you are in Christ? Recapturing the memory of childhood Christmas wonder begins, in a sense, by going back there. “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 18:3).
This article is adapted from Joy: A Godly Woman’s Adornment by Lydia Brownback.
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