Taking Time for Jesus
Can I be honest? I've never loved the holiday season. The busyness, the expectations, the sheer weight of the happiness they all tell me I'm supposed to be feeling. Smiling salespeople, crying children, presents to be wrapped just so—the expectation of perfection like a physical weight on my chest. I feel it year round, but Lord how the holidays amplify it. And then I met Him. When it's three days 'till Christmas and I'm stressed over family or funds or any of the million stressors we impose on ourselves, He whispers straight into my heart, "Christine, my daughter, it is perfect." And suddenly it is. All of the little flaws and minor imperfections become beautiful under the light of His love. It becomes perfect simply because Jesus loves me.
From the time I was little, I would escape outside on Christmas Eve, away from the frantic heat of the fire and the too bright electric lights. Escape those expectations. I would step out into the cold night air, the only sound the delicious crunch fresh snow makes underfoot. My breath so vibrantly alive in front of my face. And I would look up.
I would look for the star, His star. I didn't know Jesus then like I know him now, but I knew of him and that was enough. Enough to make that small moment of me, alone, away from the lights and voices and presents, so special. I was praising Him without knowing Him because He knew me, had already called me by name.
Every year He calls me out into the sweet silence on the night of His birth. And I look up at His stars, more brilliant by far than any tree or screen could ever hope to be, and my soul just rejoices in worship. My King has come! When He said in the book of John that He came so we could have life, and have it to the full - this is what He meant. It's incredibly difficult to ascribe words to, but never do I feel more fully alive than I do basking in his goodness and glory by the light of the stars on this night. The best I can do would be to quote the prophet Isaiah, and say it feels as though my spirit is 'soaring on wings like eagles' (Is. 40:31). My breath catches in my throat every single time.
It's nothing fancy, this Christmas tradition of mine. There are no treasured heirlooms to speak of or bible verses passed through the generations. No one will ever write stories of it besides myself. But looking to to the stars on the night of His birth the same way the shepherds did all those many years ago, feeling the same awe at His glory, it's then that I am able to grasp the full meaning of His name, Immanuel. God with us. He was sent to us on this very night to bring us freedom, to exchange our ashes for beauty, our mourning for dancing. To be our comforter, our redeemer, our strength. To make a way for us to go back Home. He promises that if we know Him, we know the One who sent him. God is with us in the person of Jesus Christ, here and now. Yes, He is with me, and He is with you. You need only step away from the lights and seek His face.
"Therefore The Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel."
— Isaiah 7:14
Christine has made a gorgeous Immanuel print (shown above) which you can download here.