By Donna Gaines
Member, Bellevue Baptist Church, Cordova
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! And yet for those of us in ministry, it can be stressful, overly busy, and can leave us exhausted as we roll into a new year. How do we prepare for the season in such a way that it doesn’t leave us depleted? How do we prevent our schedules from crowding out the very One we are celebrating?
When our children were small there was a popular character in children’s books by the name of Waldo. It was always a challenge to find him. He was hidden in the midst of very “busy” pictures with a multitude of things taking place. I remember their excitement when with a squeal of delight they let us know they had located him! There he was, hidden in plain sight.
When I reflect on the first Christmas it reminds me of a Waldo picture. Think about all that was taking place that first Christmas Eve. People were traveling back to their hometowns for a census required by Caesar. Roads were crowded, inns were full, and life was anything but quiet. And yet in the midst of it all, God came near. He entered our world through the womb of a virgin and the only ones who noticed were those who were watching. The unlikely group included some simple shepherds, a couple of senior citizens, and wise men from afar.
How was it that they “saw” the Lord when others living in the same place and at the same time missed Him? Watching characterized the lives of the shepherds: “they were keeping watch over their flocks by night.” The senior citizens, Anna and Simeon served the Lord in the temple and were waiting for the consolation of Israel. The wise men came seeking the One Who had been born King of the Jews. They were all watching, longing, seeking.
Yet, those who should have been watching weren’t. The most “religious,” the ones who knew the Scriptures and could even answer Herod’s questions pertaining to His birth, overlooked Him. Like many Christians today, caught up in religious activity and blinded by the blur of Christmas celebrations — Jesus is often disregarded. Much like Waldo was hidden in the children’s book, we have to look closely to find Him.
How tragic — especially for those of us in the ministry. We should learn from those who were there to proclaim the first Christmas. After all, it is His birth we are celebrating. It is His story we are telling. What are some ways you can make Jesus apparent to all this Christmas?
One of the best things you can do is to say NO! You cannot attend every party, luncheon, cookie swap, and children’s play to which you are invited. Begin by calendaring with your husband. Reserve time for your family during the holidays, especially if you have children in your home. When that well-meaning church member hands you “another” invitation, tell them you will check the date and get back with them. Then if you have family time scheduled, you already have another commitment and will not be able to accept their invitation.
Reserve time on your calendar for you as well. Spend a little extra time in the Bible. Don’t rush from your quiet time to hit your “to do” list. Instead, linger in His presence and ask Him to fill you and use you for His glory during this most wonderful time of the year! Ask for divine appointments and then expectantly enter your day. Remember, Christ appears to those who are watching, longing, and seeking.
Have you allowed the commercialism and busyness of the season to crowd Him out? Will you miss Him this year? Or will you be one of the watchful ones? He promises to be found by those who seek Him. Will you “see” Him this Christmas season? Better than that — will you join with the angelic chorus and announce the good news of great joy for all people? Christ the Lord has come to give us salvation!
Lift Him up for all to see — let everything you do point to Him! You just may “see” Him more clearly this year than you ever have.