Happy New Year! Advent has come and gone, a whirlwind season that passed all too quickly yet again.
For the past few years, the Lord has grown my love for this beautiful time of year leading up to Christmas. And yet, even when I start planning in September, December arrives as the busiest and most stressful time of year. We moved to North Carolina in December 2012…and moved across town in December 2013. For a whole month last year, we at most slept in the same place for three nights in a row. This year, we had (wonderful!) visitors for two weeks and not a speck of routine while we unpacked the house.
Even still, I fought to keep my attention focused on Christ, desperate not to miss the beauty of Christmas. I read Ann Voskamp’s The Greatest Gift (a must-read daily Advent devotional). We did a Jesse tree devotional, though our “tree” didn’t get hung until Christmas Eve! I unpacked Christmas decorations and Advent candles as soon as our furniture was in place, intent on filling our home with holiday beauty.
But then on Christmas Eve, perhaps the greatest threat to my Jesus-seeking heart arrived. It came in an unassuming envelope, a Hallmark card adorned with an otherwise beautiful flower. Hidden inside was a gut-wrenching attempt at a guilt trip for sins that are not mine, bookended with vague, misguided references to prayers and Jesus and the reason for the season. It tore through my heart, ripping open wounds that were healing with the passage of time.
I commiserated with my family, but that didn’t help. After awhile, I went upstairs to get ready for our church’s Christmas Eve service. As I stared into the mirror, wielding my mascara wand, God made everything clear. This wasn’t about the letter or its author at all. Those things? They were meaningless pawns in the hands of Satan. The enemy hates Christmas and all it stands for. When Jesus, Immanuel, God With Us, was born in the flesh as Lord and Savior, it was the beginning of the end of Satan’s futile reign on Earth. Jesus was born to die in order to rise again and conquer both sin and death. Jesus won, and Jesus wins, and Satan knows that. So when Christians remember the birth of Christ and look forward to His coming-again for a month of Advent, Satan is furious.What is the best news for the world is the worst news for Satan. He will do anything to disrupt a Christmas celebration.
So that letter? It was a flaming arrow, but it was merely a distraction. And praise God, He helped me see that in time to put it aside and return to worshipping the newborn King. With this understanding, I told Satan to leave me the heck alone. I had Christmas to celebrate!
O come, O come, Emmanuel!
O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!
I’m looking forward with faith to Advent 2014. And I’m putting in my requests now to not move in December again. Here’s hoping.