Today I have the wonderful privilege of having Raquel guest post for me. She has a fantastic message to help us start the holiday season right. We don’t want to get caught up in the busyness of this time of year and miss out on the special gifts of time with family and reflecting on God’s love for us. Please visit her blog and social media accounts and give her a follow. She is a gifted writer and a really sweet person!
Author bio: Hello, friends! My name is Raquel and I’m a travel blogger, as well as a pastor’s wife. When I saw Collene was looking for guest bloggers to write for her faith-based blog, I was immediately intrigued! I believe God can use anyone to spread His Message through any means, even travel blogging. So here I am, combining my love of travel and my commitment to the Lord together to share what will hopefully be an uplifting read for you! Please check out my food and travel blog, Meals and Mile Markers.
- Blog: mealsandmilemarkers.com
- IG: @mealsandmilemarkers
- Twitter: @meal_milemarker
- FB: Meals and Mile Markers
- Pinterest: @mealsandmilemarkers
For many, Christmas can be a time of extreme busyness. Okay, for almost everyone who lives in the States, Christmas can be an extreme time of busyness.
For families across the country, the holiday season can be full of travels. Students have Thanksgiving week and Christmas time off from school. Adults have vacation days they need to cash in before January. Long-distance relatives want their loved ones to come visit because it’s the time of year devoted to family time!
- Maybe you travel several hours away to see grandparents and don’t plan to do any actual “traveling.”
- Maybe you’ll sleep in your own bed every night, but drive a few hours every weekend because your loved ones are spread out around the area.
- Maybe you’ll visit New York or London because you’ve fallen in love with the Christmas spirit that envelops those cities while watching Christmas movies every winter.
- Maybe you’ll fly down to Mexico because it’s warm and you want to make the most of your vacation days and you really don’t care about celebrating Christmas because it’s been over-commercialized and you’re done with it.
These are all fine reasons to travel over the holidays! But we need to ask ourselves: Has Christmas become about what we do and where we go rather than Who we serve?
With so much to do and so little time, how can we keep our focus in the right place?
First, we need to establish the true meaning of Christmas. Most people talk about the “true meaning of Christmas.” However, nobody really agrees about what exactly this true meaning is.
- It doesn’t matter what you get at Christmas. The important thing is what you can give to others.
- Christmas is about spending time with family.
- Santa is the symbol of Christmas because he was a real guy who showed generosity to people in need.
- It’s about seeing how many friends and family you can spend time with before school is back in session.
- Christmas is when we celebrate Jesus’ birthday.
While these reasons are all noble ideas, none of them quite get it right.
I’m sure you’ve heard the oft-quoted phrase, “Jesus is the reason for the season.” I once heard a less often quoted phrase: “Jesus is NOT the reason for the season.” Judging by my search results as I tried to find who said this, I quickly found out that this is a more widespread quote than I realized.
And I think it’s right.
Although it feels a bit heretical at first, hear me out. Most people go on to say that Jesus isn’t the reason for the season because “You are.”
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”John 3:16 (NIV)
Jesus wouldn’t have left his home in heaven to chill out in this sinful world for any other reason than you. God loves the sinners in this world so much that he prepared a way for us to spend eternity with Him. He didn’t send His Son to the world so that we’d sing Christmas carols in the wintertime and read a chapter of the Bible one day a year. He sent His Son to the world so that we would be free from our sin and share this lovely freedom with others all year long!
“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’”Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV)
That means today, that means December, and that means January 1-November 30.
But let’s start with today. How can we focus on the first “Christmas gift” throughout this upcoming holiday season in such a way that it becomes a habit by January?
For those of you who won’t be traveling far, but will be spending a ton of time in the car each weekend with your immediate family, there are ways to center yourself on Christ on these car trips.
Instead of using an iPad as the main source of entertainment for your kids, look out the window. Point out parts of God’s creation. The same God who created this beautiful scenery also created your beautiful family. Then He sent His Son to the world so that each of you could live in heaven, which will be even more beautiful than earth.
“It was you who set all the boundaries of the earth; you made both summer and winter.”Psalm 74:17 (NIV)
If you are traveling long distances, you can easily share the love of Jesus each time you make a pit stop–without adding much time to the already long trip ahead of you. When you get gas, go inside to pay. Instead of paying at the pump, use this as an opportunity to bring a little bit of Christmas spirit to the guy who has to work during this festive time. If you go through the drive-thru for a quick bite to eat, pay it forward by buying the order of the car behind you. You’re already buying Christmas gifts for everyone else in your life, why not add a bonus gift to the mix? While these are indirect ways of sharing God’s unconditional love, you never know how much they will mean to the other person. You might even be a little hint from God that there’s more to life than they realize.
“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”Hebrews 13:2 (NIV)
What if you’re on an exciting vacation, busy soaking everything in? You’ll have so many excuses to pray that this will be a great time to develop a more consistent prayer life. You have a layover that might not be long enough. You got lost in a new place. You can’t believe how cold it is and you’re pretty sure your fingers are about to fall off. These are all great reasons to pray. You made it to your destination safely. You can barely fathom the beauty of this new place. You can’t believe how wonderful it is and you’re pretty sure this is the best week of your life. Those are all good reasons to praise!
“He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’”Psalm 46:10 (NIV)
You think Christmas is overrated, but that doesn’t mean Christ is! Instead of worrying about all the holiday parties, decorations, gifts, and family traditions, focus on Jesus. You can celebrate his birth without celebrating the commercialism that comes with Christmas. Talk to your loved ones about your thoughts on Christmas. They might even realize the need to recenter their hearts on Jesus during these holidays and wouldn’t it be great if you could help them in this small way? You can still sing Christmas hymns and spend time with family. You can just do so without straying from what you think is the real reason for this time of festivities.
“The LORD has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad.”Psalm 118:24 (NIV)
I hope and pray that each person who reads this blog can take away something that will strengthen their relationships with Jesus. Let’s all pray for each other to focus on Jesus amidst the chaos of Christmas! I want to challenge you to keep the Christmas spirit alive all year long. Jesus was born so that He could die for each and every person on this earth. That gesture was too big for only a month of celebrations!
What a great message Raquel has brought to us! Important things to ponder and practical ways to spread some Christmas cheer. What are your thoughts? What do you do to keep the real reasons for the season in mind? How do you keep your focus on that first Christmas gift that was given out of love for you?