Every year, we decorate our home for Christmas. I take pleasure in hanging ornaments made by our children when they were little. We also enjoy the soft glow of the Christmas tree lights in the evenings and the smell of cinnamon candles.
Last year, we went skiing the day after Christmas with our adult children. I still decorated; however, I scaled back a little bit. The thought of having to undecorate on Christmas day or a week later when we arrived home caused me to do less decorating. We decorated our Christmas tree and our dining room table but did not display our nativity scene.
In 1986 before Neal and I were married, my mother-in-law hosted a Christmas Around the World party. We ordered our nativity scene at that party. Our nativity scene is nothing elaborate – – a wooden stable and cheap ceramic figurines. We have used it every year that I can remember, except for last year.
The day after Thanksgiving this year, Neal and I carefully retrieved all of our Christmas decorations from the attic. I found the box which contained our nativity scene. I carefully unwrapped each figurine, spread out my fake straw stored in a plastic sandwich bag, and placed ceramic baby Jesus in the middle of the display. It felt right for it to resume its regular spot on our hallway table.
Unboxing baby Jesus last year was just not a priority because I was busy packing for our trip. Then it struck me that I oftentimes keep the real Jesus in a box.
Do I keep Jesus in a box for my own convenience? Do I pull Him out when I have time, when it conducive to my schedule, or when I need Him? Do I let Him be the center of my life and guide my every decision – – how I spend my time, what I say, how I respond to people and situations?
Do I hide my Jesus because of my worldly priorities? I catch myself thinking, “Jesus, I am just too busy right now. Let me get through my “to do” list and then I will pull you out of the box when I accomplish my priorities or get through this busy season. Just hold tight, Jesus. I will get you out of the box when it works for my schedule or when I need you.
But wait a minute, Suzanne. Shouldn’t Jesus be the center of every moment of every day and every task I encounter? When Jesus was asked what was the most important commandment, Matthew 22:37 says, “And He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God will all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is a commandment and should be our priority every waking moment of our lives. Our hearts should be full of Jesus — thinking about Him, talking with Him, seeing the world through His eyes, and serving with His heart.
Another verse that speaks to this is Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” The word first is clear. Everything else is secondary. He comes first. It is not about our priorities and our “to do” list, but about His will – – His “to do” list.
Proverbs 16:9 reminds us, “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord established their steps.” I need to let Jesus establish my “to do” list and show me how to spend my time. His priorities need to be my priorities.
And when things are challenging, Psalm 62:6 reminds us, “He only is my rock and my salvation, My stronghold; I shall not be shaken.” I must not attempt to navigate the difficulties of life by myself; I must look to Him to guide and comfort me every step of the way.
Psalm 39:7 says, “And now Lord, what do I wait for and expect? My hope and expectation are in You.” We don’t have to live this earthy life alone, nor should we. He is not only with us; He will guide us, but we must ask Him and listen for His voice.
I plan unboxing my ceramic baby Jesus every Christmas season, but more importantly, I am figuratively unboxing Jesus and asking Him to consume every aspect of my life – – every moment of every day.