The Very Best Plan When You Are Running Out Of Time to Be Ready For Christmas

It’s on the day I forget to buy toilet cleaner in town.

The day the man at the gas pumps says it’s just around the corner, what they’re forecasting will be a green Christmas and he looks up and asks, “So…  you ready for Christmas?”

And I choose to smile — okay, so it was a ridiculously thin smile —  but hey, better than a thin smile instead of hyperventilating, to keep breathing and believing, and that’s the day I drive home past the cows and the stone houses and hear it playing quiet in the background on the pickup truck’s radio and it’s a bit ironic that I have to turn it up to hear the words:
No ear may hear His coming —

But, in this world of sin,

Where meek souls will receive Him still

The dear Christ enters in.

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No ear may hear His coming.

Because there won’t be trumpet blasts and a parade and fanfare, but a feed trough, a stinking manger bed, and a dark night.

Christmas proves it: Man may choose the path of least resistance — but God always chooses the paths of least likelihood.

I hang up coats dropped at the back door.

Fill the sink with hot water, soap suds and a begin a mountain of dirty pots.

Where meek souls will receive Him still,  The dear Christ enters in.

It’s the meek, the humble, who will receive Him still — the ones laid low, the humble ones close to the earth, close to the humus, the ones bent down. God didn’t come with any buzz — He simply comes for the broken and unlovely.

Enter this mess, Christ —  enter. in.

Did the man at the gas pumps see it my eyes — how I didn’t know if my heart was ready for Christmas? Does God see?

Preparing for the holidays is primarily a preparing of the heart. And the way to receive Christmas isn’t to wrap anything up — but to unwrap your heart.

You don’t have to work for the coming of the Lord — you don’t have to work for Christmas. 

You don’t have to earn Christmas, you don’t have to perform Christmas, you don’t have to make Christmas. You can rest in Christ alone who makes Christmas.*

You can rest with Christ — because He will prepare your heart from the coming of the Lord. 

“This is the true preparedness of heart for coming to Christ: the preparedness of coming to Him just as you are.~Charles Spurgeon

ExhaleExhale and make space for this.

The water in the sink grows cool. Advent could light a lukewarm heart. Burn up everything that wraps it tight…

The Christmas tree’s been lit for weeks, a beacon, a preparing, an anticipation.

Why is it easier to make Christmas cookies than to make our hearts ready for Christ?

Is getting ready for Christmas as simple and difficult as simply sitting stilled before the cradle of Christ?

The miracle of Christmas is that you get more than proof of God’s existence — you get the experience of God’s presence.

God gives God. He withholds no good thing from you. Christ is all your good and He is all yours, and this is always your Christmas miracle.* 

It’s there over the dinner table, there on the chalkboard as a prayer request: A friend whose mother’s pancreatic cancer is untreatable.

A few weeks ago, a childhood playmate writes me a note to ask me not to write her anymore.

A mother I love watches her son self-destruct and I can taste the grief in my mouth and it’s all I can taste everywhere, salty and stinging.

Turning the calendar page to December doesn’t turn life into this dance of the sugarplum fairies.

Christ shied from the sanitized — He chose the dung heaps and entered in at our stinking places. Thank God. I need a God like that. The light of the Christmas tree, it’s reflecting in the glass of the fireplace.

And Christ comes and cracks into this world and the carapace of our hurting hearts, and we can hear Him coming:

I came in unexpected ways the first time and I will come again in the hour you think not, so trim your wick, you there in the impossible dark, and light an unexpected flame regardless, and be ready with impossible hope —  for I am coming again.

Christ doesn’t reveal the outcome of what we face, but He reveals to us His Face. This is the gift of Christmas that flickers in the pitch black.

And yet —

Love came down and “He came to His own people, and His own people did not receive Him.” (John 1:11)

Love came down — and His own people did not recognize Him.

Love came down — and His own people did not want what He offered.

The Messiah came down and He wasn’t received as the Messiah — and Love comes down down and who receives all the moments as His love?

I’ve fumed about too many of the moments of dropped coats, strewn boots, abandoned CDs. Writhed away from the moments that make my throat burn, everything race inside. There’s things, prayer requests, on that chalkboard that I’m wild to erase. There’s things in me that I am desperate to erase. 

How in the world am I receiving Christ this Advent?

Advent means that we meet whatever comes to us — with this brazen belief that it is Love that Comes Down.

Love comes down to His own people — and His own people receive the unexpected and unlikely as His love.

The infant is infinite God, the Babe is bondage-breaker, the creche holds the Cosmos Creator, and the unlikely can be a means of  the love of God. 

We may not know the outcome but we believe that in Him we overcome because Love comes down.

Is that how we get ready for Christmas? By readying the heart to receive the gift of every moment — no matter what the moment unexpectedly holds — as a gift of His love?

And the good things in life are not so much health, but holiness; not so much riches in this world, but relationship with God; not so much our plans, but His presence — and He withholds no good thing from us because the greatest things aren’t ever things.* 

No matter the barrenness you feel, you can always have as much Jesus as you want. 

Maybe I should have said that to the man at the gas pumps?

We’re ready for Christmas, not when we have all the gifts — but when we’re ready to give all of ourselves to Christ.

At the end of the day, the carols hardly play, and I stand in our messy lives and I hear them.

I light the candles at the hearth.

And I can feel how it comes.

The warmth and the flame and this slow unwrapping of everything bound …

 

 

* excerpted from The Greatest Gift 

Related:  Everything to make you breathe easy &  have the best, most memorable traditions for The Greatest Christmas
Resources: The heirloom porcelain ornaments on our Christmas tree and our 24 candle wooden Advent wreath 

The Photography Gift Book from the farm — that’s giving deep joy & makes everything into a gift 

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