Every year when someone asks me, “How was your Christmas?” My generic knee jerk answer is usually, “Good, how was yours?” But deep down inside, I am weighing the success of my holiday season not by the extravagance of the gifts I received or the fun parties I attended, ( definitely not this year!) and not even by the quality of time spent with loved ones, but rather by how well I made room for Jesus. How well I honored the one for whom the celebration exists.
This year was a tricky one for me! OH 2020, why must you be like this?
Upon reflection, I noticed I had in fact been clinging so tightly to Jesus all year long, that letting go enough to behold him and adore him and celebrate his birth was difficult. All year long I clung desperately and fervently to my Savior! From the minute I woke up to the minute I went to bed, I anxiously prayed and nervously took him everywhere I went; to the grocery store, to church, and everywhere in between. “Help me over here and help my family over there! Keep us safe and healthy and employed and dear Lord Jesus…
Let. There. Be. Sports!”
Then when it came time for Christmas I found Him all smothered and crinkled up in my sweaty death grip, like an old receipt or a secret note passed too many times in class. The kind of death grip that leaves fingernail marks in your palm. How do I now switch gears and begin to celebrate him?
“Come and behold him born the King of angels.”
To me, beholding Him implies gazing from afar does it not? It entails stepping back to admire something beautiful. I do find Jesus beautiful and I do want to behold Him and all His glory. But this year, as I was busy fearfully fretting, I forgot to loosen my grip. Honestly, my knuckles stayed white the entire holiday season until finally on Christmas Eve, I let myself sit back and enjoy the festivities and family fun. I took a deep breath, loosened my grip, and let God be God, and declared it well with my soul!
“Let every heart prepare Him room!” I’m trying!
The thing about clinging so tightly to God the way I did, is that it was out of fear, not faith, and when I do that, no one else can behold Him either. He is not on display in my life but rather hidden behind my hairied heart rate and buried beneath my burdens.
I think about Mary in the manger that night… she wrapped her baby boy up and laid Him down in a trough… away from her body for all to behold. Wisemen, Joseph, heaven and nature… even Simeon eventually got to hold Him! If she clung to Him for dear life, sharing Him with no one out of fear, we would not have the story, the history, the Christmas traditions that we do. We would not have the example of stepping back in awe and wonder to behold the King of angels and let the world gaze longingly at such a miraculous event!
The irony is that this whole year, Jesus was holding me so very tight! There was no need to panic or white knuckle or leave nail marks in the palm of my hand. In fact, it is the very nail marks in the palm of His hand that remind me He has overcome the world on our behalf. Our job is to simply believe! Behold and believe that He is good and greatly to be praised!
In 2021 I’m going to loosen my grip! I’m going to make room and time to (with faith in my heart) adore Him and behold Him and worship Him for who He is and the good things He is doing in my life and the world around me. It’s going to take stepping back and gazing from afar ( but not too far!) and realizing that God’s got this and God’s got me. He’s got you too! Do you believe that? I’m inviting you to join me! Let’s loosen our grip together! Let’s watch God be God in 2021! Let’s glorify Him and in doing so put Him on display for others to behold!