We pulled into the Christmas tree farm and I immediately fought back tears. Memories flooded back. Walking through endless rows and rows of thick, bountiful trees towering over our heads, the smell of pine filling our senses. This year, the three rows of trees to choose from met us eye level, challenging me to focus beyond my immediate surroundings and search for a higher meaning this season. I needed to recover my wonder this Christmas.
A New View
Scrawny, crooked and sparse. Words to describe the trees around me and the feelings inside. Nothing about this Christmas felt right. No family gatherings. Celebrations cancelled. Traditions interrupted. I inhaled deeply and let the Holy Spirit sweep over my senses.
You won’t recover your wonder by clinging to what you can’t have right now. The first Christmas, the day of Jesus’s birth? Scrawny, crooked and sparse.
Think of it, God in the flesh, a tiny, scrawny babe, laid in a crooked feeding trough, provisions sparse. The most wonderful night in the history of the world. Immanuel, God with us.
I knew that recovering the wonder meant newness. In tradition and expectation. So here’s what I’m doing this year to recover the wonder of Christmas. Maybe you’d like to try one:
- Take a media fast. Right now everything on the news is crooked and sparse. I can’t change COVID numbers, vaccine distribution, or election results. But our sovereign God remains unsurprised by it all. I’ve also stepped back significantly from social media right now, because the last thing my heart needs is to compare my life to someone else’s. I’ve stuck to my groups where we are all trying to keep our eyes on Jesus, but daily scrolling has ceased.
- Read some fiction. Truthfully I love to research and learn so fiction is my least favorite genre, but right after Thanksgiving I started reading Francine Rivers and found myself immersed in Scripture while devouring her stories.
- Spread Joy. Bake some cookies. Make a homemade card. Pick up the phone. Mail a surprise gift. Ask the LORD who He wants you to bless and then go do it. As Jesus taught, “It’s more blessed to give than to receive,” and when we reach out to others we feel warmth within ourselves.
- Take the Luke Advent Challenge. Read a chapter a day through the Book of Luke. I spent over a year reading through Luke while I wrote the Unexplainable Jesus Study but this year, I feel the need to go back and read it again. Because Jesus has a way of setting all things right again through His tender teaching and cut to the chase truth. If you’re not a reader, you can listen on your YouVersion app, or watch the teaching videos where I highlight some of my favorite sections of Luke’s gospel in 30 minute sermons.
- Go for a walk. Even if you can only spend a few minutes outside. Feel the sunshine on your face. Play some praise music. Breathe in some fresh air. Get a moment alone with you and your Savior.
We don’t have to be surrounded by perfect circumstances to become swallowed up in Christ’s perfection. We just need to open our hearts and hands to let go of what cannot be right now. And breathe in the fullness of Him. He is here. All around us. Ready and willing to help us recover the wonder of a scrawny babe in a cold, crooked manger, sparsely wrapped, come to save the world.
What is your biggest disappointment this Christmas season?
What are you doing to help recover the wonder of Christmas in our changing circumstances?