“Twas the night before Christmas,
When all through the house
Not a creature was stirring
Not even a mouse…” *
You know… it is quite obvious that the author of this beloved, classic Christmas poem must not have had any children! As the father of four kids, I would bet that it would be very difficult to find any family home without their lights on until well into the wee hours of Christmas morning. If one was to peek behind those drawn curtains or blinds you would most likely find at least one parent diligently (and probably a bit harriedily) putting together toys for their children’s Christmas delight.
I’ve told in past holiday blog posts about the one Christmas Eve many years ago when my wife and I spend almost the entire night putting together the “some assembly required” gifts for our oldest son and daughter. While Piper worked on Jamie Joy’s gifts I sat in the middle of the living floor with what looked like over a million parts and decals for what I hoped would turn out to be a close resemblance to the GI Joe jet plane that was pictured on the illustrated box that was to be a gift for Josh.
The later… or maybe I should more accurately say… the earlier it got, the more my attitude began to transition from joyful enthusiasm to… well let’s just say that my attitude at the end was far different than when we first put the kids to bed! Throughout the evening, as my confusion became more evident and the frustration began to surface, my lovely, sweet and VERY patient wife would give me some encouraging words, or a gentle touch to my shoulder. Then when things really began to boil, she came over and sat down next to me and looked quietly at me with those bright brown and loving eyes.
Well… that’s all it took for me to calm down and think straight! After a quick re-focus on the reason for what we were doing… and a warm cup of hot Cocoa… I was able to settle back into my job and complete the task.
I think we ended up getting about an hours sleep that night, but you know… the look in the kids eyes and the huge smiles on their faces when they tore open the gifts quickly erased any frustration and negative thoughts of the night’s endeavors and rejuvenated our tired bodies for all the events lined up for the day ahead.
As I re-read from the second chapter of the Biblical book of Luke this morning, I had to chuckle with recognition with the way the angel Gabriel reacted to the shepherd’s when he appeared to them heralding the Lord’s message of joy. I could clearly see and hear the utter frustration in his voice when he stated: “STOP BEING AFRAID!” (Wuest) I mean, just think about it for a moment…
Most scholars believe that it was the same angel Gabriel that appeared to Zechariah, Mary, Joseph and then the shepherds in the field. And each time he met face to face with fear on the part of the intended recipient of God’s message. Now, I haven’t found any translation that actually states it but I bet the angel’s first words to the shepherds were actually: “Ah… come one! Not again! Geez! Stop being afraid!” I would think that he might have rolled his eyes a little and maybe even stomped a foot or too… I know that I would have!
There have been a few times in our recent past when I was akin to the way I think this angel must have felt. You don’t know how many times I wanted to grab the shoulders of certain people and gently shake them while uttering: “Ah… come on! Not again! Geez! STOP BEING AFRAID!”
As the events of that first Christmas unfolded, the angel Gabriel was given the task of appearing to four different individuals in order to herald the plan of Papa God that was unfolding around them. And instead of being excited, they all responded with fear of one sort or another! Gabriel was bringing “good news… a message that will (or should) fill everyone with joy.” (Luke 2:10 God’s Word ©) I am sure that he must have felt like those he went to were not (at least at first) tuning in to the message that he was trying to convey to them.
And once again… that is the same way I have repeatedly felt toward certain individuals when I share the good news of God’s Word of healing for my wife. The blank look on their eyes and the fear in their voices makes it pretty evident that they are not really listening to what I have to say.
While reading of Gabriel’s interactions with mankind, I had the thought that the folks he (and I) talked with were living with a disposition of fear. In order to confirm that idea, I looked up the word “disposition” and discovered it to mean: “a person’s inherent qualities of mind and character; one’s prevailing tendency, mood or inclination.” (https://www.google.com/search?q=dispostion&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8)
Well, I tell you… that definition sure got me to look at myself in order to see if fear was my “prevailing tendency.” I don’t want to live a single minute of the rest of my life as a servant to fear. Fear is an awful, destructive and demeaning force that I want to have NO part of. How about you?
Instead of fear, I would think that the children of God would want to have the “prevailing tendency” of love… especially during the Christmas Season! I definitely don’t want to hear the angel of the Lord… or anyone else for that matter to utter the words: “STOP BEING AFRAID!” toward me. What do you think?
So with only a few weeks left until Christmas, let’s do a little personal inventory and get rid of any inclinations of fear. Instead be a herald of the Good News that is a message that will fill everyone with joy! Don’t allow yourself to lose sight of the real reason for the season and of life itself, like I started to do on the Christmas Eve many years ago. You might even try asking those around you if they are expecting to be filled with joy this Christmas Season and beyond…”