My wife and I love this time of year. All four of my daughters are home, after Christmas Eve my work slows down for a few days, and I get to spend time at home with the people that I enjoy the most. These days remind me to be thankful for all that I have been given in my life. It’s an important lesson to remember. In the day to day of regular life I can often get distracted and miss the gifts I am being given all along the way. I get focused on the difficult days and lost in the long list of things that still need to be done. The stress level rises and I seem to be racing against the clock and measuring myself by other people’s opinions and perceptions. But these few days sitting around the house with people I love, eating good food, laughing, watching movies, and playing games seem to help recalibrate my life. They remind me that every day is a gift if I will but slow down long enough to receive it. I am trying to be thankful continually instead of just in these pockets of time when things are going well. I’m asking God to give me a deeper awareness of His presence and what that means in my life on a more moment by moment basis. (Find out more what that looks like at our next Spiritual Formation Retreat.) What if we all could live with a more present sense of the both the presence and the graciousness of God, even when life isn’t going the way we would want it to? What if we could learn to see God in every moment instead of just the moments that were going well? I think that is a little of what Longfellow was driving at when he wrote:
We live, if we are willing to accept it by faith, in the “perpetual exercise of God’s power.” Christmas reminds us that God came to be “with us”, not merely to give us a theology or share information, but to bring us into a relationship. And relationships exist all the time, not just when we are aware of them.
I am father to my girls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For that I can be thankful every moment. The same is true of the fact that I have been given a wife who loves me far more than I deserve. . And that baby born 2000 years ago has made it possible for me to live in a relationship with God every second of every day. I’m not just talking about knowing facts about God, or understanding the Bible, I am talking about an ongoing and sometimes experiential encounter with the One who made me. I become more and more aware of that as I live with an growing sense of gratitude in the present moment. I hope your Christmas is “jolly and bright”, but even more I hope that Christmas this year will remind you that we can be thankful for every moment, even the hard ones, if we are willing to surrender to what God is doing in His way in our lives.