Like most families, we have several traditions we follow each Christmas season. Along with the trees, lights, and decorations, we have a box of Christmas movies and books we enjoy each year. One is the movie The Nativity. Together, as a family, we don our pajamas, make popcorn and hot chocolate, and watch the ever-familiar story unfold in our family room. For me, one of the most memorable scenes in the movie is when the young couple enters Bethlehem in search of a place to stay. Young Mary is deep into labor, shifting uncomfortably on the donkey as Joseph frantically knocks on door after door to no avail. With tears in her eyes, the frightened girl looks to heaven and desperately pleads, “Will you not provide for us?”
When Mary learned she was carrying the Christ-child in her womb, I’m sure she imagined many scenarios in which He would arrive; never once did she envision the one unfolding before her. Though prophecies foretold His birth, how much did she know? The Jews were expecting a Messiah, a triumphant king, not a humble servant, or sacrificial lamb. As Mary’s labor progressed, her dream of delivery became a reality, but in the most unimaginable place—a stable, likely a rough cavern hewn out of rock—a dark, dank, smelly cave-like dwelling. Yet, the internal and external darkness was overcome by the light brought by His birth. The night was illuminated and the heavens were radiant as angels announced His arrival!
As I think of the incredible story of Jesus’ birth, and recount it to my children in verse, and through movies, I see so many parallels applicable for daily living. Lately, Mary’s words, “Will you not provide for us?” have rung in my ears, but with a twist—instead of Mary, I hear Jesus saying, “Will you not provide for Me?” As Believers, our mission is to follow Christ—to know Him and make Him known. Though our intentions are good, how often do we fill the rooms of our lives and shut the door on His presence?
Even at Christmas, a time we’ve set aside to celebrate His birth, Jesus is often pushed aside in the wake of events and activities. Many make a special effort not to over-commercialize the season, but the pressures to go, do, buy, and give can easily consume us. As we enjoy our Christmas trees, beautiful lights, melodious music, Wassail, and decorated cookies, let’s set our eyes higher. Let’s not just open a room for the Messiah—let’s open our hearts as we focus on Him, not just at Christmas, but throughout the year.
Our relationship with Christ is personal and not formulaic, however, at times we are helped when we narrow our vision to specific ideas and activities that help us re-engage with Jesus. Here are a few to consider:
1) Set your alarm 15 minutes earlier. I confess I’m not a morning person. I’ve tried for many years and have been only partially successful at rising early. Still, there’s something special about the morning hours with God. The Scripture is filled with admonition on seeking God early—it’s the best way to start the day. Psalm 5:3, “My voice You shall hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning I will direct it to You, and I will look up.
2) Tithe your time. For several months one year, I set an alarm on my watch to chime on the hour. When the alarm sounded, I’d stop whatever I was doing and focus on Jesus for six minutes. During that time, I might pray for a friend or family member, read a short Bible passage, or even sing a song. I found by doing this, my attention wasn’t toward Him in just those six minutes, but I would anticipate the time with Him throughout the hour. I Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
3) Give Him your Netflix time. We’re not TV watchers, but we do enjoy the occasional Netflix show. To be honest, once I find a clean program with a good story line, I’m hooked. Though I try to restrain myself to one (or maybe two) episodes at a time, that’s still 40-80 minutes from my day! I know I’m not alone… sometimes the mindless veg seems necessary—the “me” time we so often crave. What if you gave this time to Jesus, even just once a week? Prayer, reading the Word, and quiet meditation can seem difficult at first, but the rewards far outweigh the temporary gratification of entertainment.
Psalm 103:2-5, Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from destruction, who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
4) Pray in the night. Many times we awake in the night and are unable to return to sleep immediately. Utilize the night season. Commune with God. Psalm 119:148, “My eyes are awake through the night watches, that I may meditate on Your word.”
Above all else, ask God to help you make room for Him. This may seem counterintuitive, but the truth of the matter is our flesh often gets in the way of spiritual growth. We must learn to submit our soul (our mind, will, and emotions) to our spirit, and only God can show us how to do this effectively. As The Passion Translation so eloquently puts it: “God holds our lives safely in his hands. He’s the One who keeps us faithfully following him” (Psalm 66:9). God is faithful to redeem us, restore us, and keep us following Him, but we must daily open our hearts and make room for Him!
By Lisa Jenkins-Moore
All Scripture Quotations are New King James Version unless otherwise noted.