As I look back upon this past Christmas with my family, I can honestly say that once again, the Lord has taught me so much in just one day! For the first time in 4 years, we were able to celebrate Christmas at our house, by our tree, in our pj’s. Of course, my kids were clamoring to rip open the presents. For the first time, I was able to put in to practice something my Dad always did with us as kids. Before the living room was destroyed with wrapping paper and toys, we paused to read the Christmas story together as a family. In that short time of devotion, my wife and I were able to explain to our kids why we get presents this time of year. We did our best to explain to a 6, 3, and 2 year old, the reason we give presents to one another; noting the gifts of the wise men, and the ultimate gift given to us, Jesus. This was a moment I’ll never forget, as my 6 year old started to reiterate the story to her little sister and brother as we proceeded to hand out presents. As Christmas day progressed, and our living room started to represent a war zone of paper, plastic, and the bazillion twist ties used to keep those toys safe inside their boxes, I started to notice something. All the preparation, all the money spent on presents, and all the wrapping, meant nothing. I witnessed the joy, smiles, and laughter of our kids playing with their new toys and games, and didn’t give a second thought to the sacrifice that went in to that day. We received our “tank toos” and our hugs, but did our kids stop and reflect upon what mom and dad had done for them? Nope. Does that matter to mom and dad? Nope. We found joy and contentment in their happiness.
However, many of us do that in life, the other 364 days of the year, to our Heavenly Father. He gave us the greatest gift, and we sometimes just say our “thanks” and then move on to focus our time and attention on what matters to us, our own life. We go through life “playing with our toys” and allow things to distract us from our Savior and the relationship we need to work on developing every day. We don’t realize that those things are just “empty cups” that will never satisfy or fill our lives with what we need. We don’t stop often enough to realize the sacrifice that our Father in Heaven gave up so that we could be free. The ultimate sacrifice of giving up His one and only Son to die on a cross, so that we could be free from the bondage of sin. In fact, many choose bondage to sin and emptiness to freedom in Christ. I proceed with the following example because I’m a daddy to 3 kids that passionately love Disney movies…
Lightning McQueen’s ultimate goal in life was to win the Piston Cup and all the glory, prizes, sponsorships, and fans that came with it. He wanted the best that his life as a race car could offer. He was good at what he did. He was at the top of his game when it all came crashing down around him when he lost his way. It was when he was at his lowest point when he realized that there is more to life than just an empty cup. It took a washed up old race car and a rusted out tow truck to teach him that.
As I look forward to 2011, it is my prayer that my eyes will be open to everything and everyone around me. That I would not get caught up in the race of life and lose focus on what’s important…my relationship with my Heavenly Father and growing closer and closer to Him everyday!
“But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away. Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity.” – Luke 8:13-14
I have set the LORD always before me; Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will rest in hope…You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” – Psalm 16:8-9, 11