Sixteen days to Christmas. That should be proclaimed in joy. Instead it often is a statement of fear and dread. Time is running out. Can you feel the pressure and stress? Is the fear that Christmas won’t be perfect going to wreck Christmas? Fear not. Easy for God to say. He doesn’t have to deal with this stress and all these crazy people…… oh yeah, I guess He does.
We are in the process of moving to a different house and the stress level is pretty high in the O’Reilly household. The other evening I came home carrying a casserole for dinner (God bless my mom). I was in a hurry to drop off dinner and run some errands. Of course, the cat chose that moment to run under my feet. I slipped and the casserole went everywhere. Being the cool, calm, collected adult Christian male that I am, I chose to take a deep breath…. And shout and swear so loudly, my mom probably heard it. I told the two youngest that I had to leave and I wanted this cleaned up by the time I got home, I didn’t care what they had to do. They asked if they could use the dog. Later, when I had calmed down, I actually thought that was pretty funny and a practical idea. My wife told me later that the boys had said I had frightened them. Being a good father is so important to me. The whole episode really upset me. I don’t want fear. I don’t want boys who dread the season. I don’t want to be the one who steals the smiles from my sons’ faces. I want a healthy relationship. I want them to see God’s love. I want to be Christ’s ambassador. I want to leave a legacy of faith in God. I would rather not be remembered as the Grinch who flips out when the noodles hit the floor. How do I do that?
I guess that is part of the reason I read scripture. I want to be assured of God’s love. I want to learn about Jesus. I want to be a better husband and father. Learning how to be more like Jesus is part of that.
God says to fear not. This command usually seems to come when fear seems pretty normal. Why? I think part of it is because God wants a relationship with us. God wants us to trust and put our faith in Him. Fear never seems to encourage or build a relationship. When a bear is approaching, fear is a good thing. When Christmas is approaching, fear is a bad thing.
My prayer this day is for those of us who at times dread Christmas. That we would recognize the true meaning and wonderful gift that Christmas is. God says fear not. God sends his Son to be with us. I think we can take that to mean God loves us. That we truly can trust God.
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