The Heart of Christmas (and my favorite gift)

My family did something different this Christmas. We prayed. Now that might not seem like much. When our family is together we pray together—at meals, before trips, during devotionals, and before opening gifts. Usually my dad does the praying, and usually he does it after he reads the Christmas story out of Luke, but this year he didn’t read the Christmas story. Instead he took out the Adornaments, twelve ornaments that each represent a different name/attribute of God (The Door, Shepherd, King, etc) and told each of us to pick two. “Now” he said, “Each of you will take turns praying about how God is that name.”

Okay, I thought. I quickly picked out Immanuel and Water, not really giving the decision much thought. Honestly, the past few days I hadn’t been giving much thought to anything but paying lip service and checking of a list to what I thought would give me the Christmas spirit. Jesus had not been on my mind. Outwardly, I went through the motions of Jesus centered worship, but my heart was another matter. Unfortunately, I cannot deny that I became carried away by the doing, the fixing, and buying of the holidays. I was thinking about what would make me happy, and part of that involved drooling over the sales on clothes I wanted; devouring tasty food; and spending every moment searching for that feeling of Christmas happiness.

I was the first to pray, and God kind of nudged me in that moment. He whispered, “Hello, I am still here. You know what Immanuel means and you know why I came. Don’t forget that child. I am with you forever. Nothing can change that. Here I am. I am the only One who can quench your restless thirst.” It wasn’t an audible discussion, but in my mind I knew that is what He wanted me to know. As I closed my eyes to pray, Psalms 139:7-10 quickly came to mind.

I can never escape from your Spirit!

I can never get away from your presence!

If I go up to heaven, you are there;

If I go down to the grave, you are there.

If I ride the wings of the morning,

If I dwell by the fartherest oceans,

Even there your hand will guide me,

And your strength will support me.

It was a reminder I needed, and so I thanked God for being there even when I forget that He is. I thanked Him for coming to earth, so He could save people like me. I thanked Him for being available every day, any time for me and for the rest of the world.

Our prayer time didn’t last more than ten minutes, but it was the most beautiful moment of the day. God’s love for each one of us human beings is infinite and powerful and to recognize and acknowledge that . . . well that was better than any gift I received on Christmas.


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