I don’t think I’ll ever be ready for Christmas.
So, am I ready for Christ?
Not many are. Even more don’t want to be. In fact, a growing number are openly hostile to the idea insomuch that they are convincing enough for others to follow suit. Why is that?
A Christmas not too long ago, as I struggled on what I wanted to give my wife and family as presents, I, too, wondered what I wanted for Christmas. I didn’t feel like I wanted anything material. I didn’t know what I wanted.
Then, I noticed a particular “hunger” in myself. It was a longing, a deep desire, stemming from experiences that I had throughout the year and years before. I realized then what I wanted: I want to be accepted of God. I wanted to know, despite all my weaknesses and failures as a husband, as a dad, as a son, as a human being, despite whatever rejections I felt I was experiencing at the time, that He still found something of value in me. And I wanted Him to tell me in His own way….but in a way that I’d recognize.
I didn’t tell anyone of my desires. Just Him.
For many days, I listened. I listened to the thoughts that came to me. I listened to how my wife treated me and spoke to me. I listened to my conversations with my children and co-workers. I listened to the events that happened to me and around me. I listened to songs to see if lyrics would pop out at me. I listened to the messages of articles that I’d read to see if anything would make an impression. I gauged how much inspiration would flow to my mind. I’d read the scriptures to see if some verse would be more notable than others. And I listened in the quiet stillness after praying.
He answered me…but in a way that I didn’t realize He’d do: He softened my heart. It needed to happen first. I needed to be prepared to hear the other answers He’d have for me. The songs I listened to softened me. My failures softened me. My weaknesses softened me. I was so hard on myself that I beat myself up internally long enough. I needed to be softened first. I needed to let go of my insecurities, my weaknesses and failings. I just needed to let go of everything, and it meant that I needed to soften up.
Once I softened up, I was ready to see how He’d answer me in other ways. I’d see how my wife and family wanted me as their husband and as their dad. I’d see how they wanted to spend time with me…and longed for me to spend time with them…that I was important to them, still. I’d receive thoughts and ideas that helped me see life differently. I’d even be able to have a conversation with God as I prayed…which told me His doors weren’t closed to me…that He wanted me in His presence. He wanted to talk to me…but He knew that I’d hear Him only when I was in a state of mind and heart that was ready to listen: softened.
Because I softened my heart…I was finally able to hear the answer He had for me: He loved me, still, despite how I saw myself. And I felt it as well.
You see, when we’re not ready to receive Christ, no amount of preaching or teaching or whatever will soak into our hearts. When we’ve hardened our hearts to even the idea of Christ, of God, of a Savior, we’ve created this “No-room” sign on ourselves. There’s NO ROOM when we’re filled with hostility or self-righteousness to others. There’s No ROOM when we’re self-absorbed. There’s NO ROOM when we’re just busybodies doing whatever. There’s NO ROOM when we fill our lives with stuff, with vanity, with frivolous activities, with fights, with smugness, with mockery, with insincerity, with secularism….humanism…and all those other -isms. No room…hard-hearted: not ready to receive.
I have a friend who says she’s not Christian, but she loves Christmas for all the decorations and winter fun. Still, she takes time to visit the homeless shelter, makes treats for others, and just gets into the attitude of giving. I know of others who have no room for Christ in their set of beliefs, but they try to do something “good” or spread “good will” during Christmas. They don’t want the “religious” roots of Christmas….just the fruits of good actions during Christmas.
There is a scripture that reads:
12 All things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil cometh of the devil; for the devil is an enemy unto God, and fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth to sin, and to do that which is evil continually.
13 But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.
If we truly want to do good things to others, we must realize that the source of all goodness is God. He is THE Standard of Goodness. (Otherwise, we’re just playing with the Moving Target of Goodness…the Good-whenever-I-say-it’s-Good kind of goodness.) A willingness to truly do good things to others, to reach outside of ourselves, is the beginning of softening ourselves…and making room…for Christ.
Am I ready for Christmas? Maybe not. Maybe never.
Am I ready for Christ? Am I even willing to make a just little bit of room for Him? Am I willing to listen to His voice…the voice that tells me that He still loves me despite how I see myself?
I don’t know. I’m not sure. I’d like to. I’m willing to try. I’ll give it a chance…
You know what? That’s enough to start with….because there’s a promised response waiting on the other end of that.
Soften your heart. Make room for Him. Feel His goodness.
And know for yourself.