When I was growing up, our family tradition was to open the majority of our family Christmas gifts on Christmas Eve before we piled into the station wagon and drove off to various extended family members houses for additional gifts, delicious holiday snacks and lots of fun. Then the evening was always culminated with Grandma’s homemade pizza at my Mom’s parent’s home. Christmas morning was set aside for the “big” gift from our parents, hot chocolate or eggnog and time set aside so that we could finally play with all the toys we received the night before.
I remember one Christmas morning in particular when my folks handed me a small box that I had not seen in the previous week as I would painstakingly check out every gift that my Mom placed under the tree as she completed wrapping them. At first my initial enthusiasm waned due to the small stature of the gift container. But as I tore into the perfectly wrapped present my eagerness to discover its contents returned with great passion. And you know… I was not disappointed for when I flipped open the black jewelry box I was at awe at the sight of a beautiful gold wrist watch.
It was definitely the fanciest watch that I had ever owned! I don’t recall the brand or too many other details of that timepiece, but I do remember only wearing it on special occasions for many years following that Christmas morning. I also remember the child-like eagerness that stirred from within me each Christmas Eve and morning when we gathered around the fresh cut tree we always had.
While growing up into adulthood that zeal changed from a selfish expression of eagerness to see what I was going to get, to an emotion of eagerness that was focused on the reaction to the individual be it our kids, our grand kids and of course my wife as they open the gifts we gave them.
I was sooo eager and excited to see Piper’s reaction to the gift I was giving her for our first Christmas that I could hardly contain myself over the weeks before the holiday. I had opened up our first charge account where I was working at Sears so that I could get her what I considered to be a very expensive gift… a new sewing machine! Word of my gift to my new bride got around quickly and I think everyone at the store knew about the present. It was funny to watch the “know-it-but-I can’t-show-it” expressions on my co-workers faces whenever Piper came into the store before Christmas morning!
When that fateful morning finally came… Well, let’s just say that I was NOT disappointed at Piper’s look of thanksgiving and joy! I must also admit that that machine was probably one of the most practical and useful presents that I ever gave to her! I can’t count the number of clothes for the kids, Halloween or church play costumes, and shirts for me or the personal dresses that she sewed over the years. And we still have that green machine… I am looking forward to my talented wife sewing many more creations with it in the years to come… although it might be time for an updated model!
I was thinking over the last few days that the shepherd’s in the Biblical account of that first Christmas a few thousand years ago had that same kind of eagerness that I felt as a child and again at Piper’s and my first Christmas as husband and wife. I can’t help but see the eagerness and joy in their eyes when the angels left and they turned to each other and excitedly exclaimed like a group of kids on the playground: “Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God had revealed to us!” (Luke 2:15 The Message) The very next verse seems to confirm my fanciful thoughts when it recorded their immediate actions declaring that “They left, running…” (The Message)
Christmas is a time of awe, and abounds with examples of childlike faith and eagerness among both children and adults alike. It is a good time to reflect upon our excitement and eagerness for the things of God during the past year and gives us a prime opportunity to prepare our hearts for the New Year ahead. It is like we have a clean slate to begin anew in our personal walk with God. How would you like your New Year to be concerning your relationship with our heavenly Father? Now is the time to take a look inside and set your heart with fresh eagerness and a purposeful resolve to draw closer and in doing so, be open to be used as a vessel for His love and grace as well as a channel of His power.
What do you think? Is it time to re-kindle your eagerness for the move of God in and through you in the year ahead? I know that this is what I am looking forward to and pray that each of you will join me for an exciting year that rewards our eagerness and consistency in being pleasing to Papa God. Have a great last weekend before Christmas, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “What EAGERNESS am I expecting to carry into Christmas and the New Year ahead?”