Distractions come easy, especially this time of year. The joy of picking and giving gifts. The beauty of houses extravagantly lit. The comfort of getting with family so often scattered in needed pursuit of separate lives. Congenial gatherings with friends and coworkers. All so focused on the fun of Christmas that I, at least, sometimes miss deeper truths. Not about the birth of Jesus, the wise men, the shepherds, and all. They get ample attention. But this year, another Christmas thought captivates me.
Chains encircled me
forged from temptations lost
and I fought them
how I fought them
chipping away at hardened steel
with pebbles of intent
that quickly turned to dust
Unknown to me
you slipped a key into the lock
I heard no click
no rattle of chains releasing
But a gentle move toward you
met no restraint
that move became a run
I needed that key
that I had not
For me, this year, the good news of Christmas proceeds from changes it brought to me. And the more I ponder these, the more I understand why Jesus came, the immensity of his love, the essence of his gift, and I grow closer to him. That last is the hook that this ornament hangs on.
The final act in the drama of my returning to God at 23 came as I realized I couldn’t change a bad trait. A very bad one. One that had me in chains I couldn’t come close to escaping. In desperation I gave God, if he existed, full freedom to do what he desired. Within a week people, umprompted, began to ask what had happened. Very simply, God happened. Christmas came.
Why? A simple line we often repeat, and miss the consequences of. Remember the angel’s line to Joseph, explaining Mary’s pregnancy? “…you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).
Don’t get sidetracked thinking that just means forgiveness. Jesus’ arrival, coupled with his death on the cross, broke the power of sin to enchain us. Christmas means we have freedom to live better than we did before. In an extensive group discussion on Facebook just a few months ago, an old high school classmate said he’d learned that people don’t change. On their own, I’d tend to agree. But when joined to Jesus, people do change. I did. I’ve seen a lot of others move beyond serious sins, many of whom landed them in prison.
Kick Starting the Application
So this Christmas, what changes has God brought about in you? How have those changes impacted your closeness to him? If you’re already in relationship with him, what more changes do you need to make? What would you most like to thank him for this season?
If you’re not yet following Jesus, do you have some areas needing change? Does anything keep you from allowing God to make them? Do you desire to be closer to him?