Christmas 1991. If you ask me to tell you something about that particular Christmas, I’ll come up empty. The best I can do is use my kids as a reference and see if that triggers any memories.
Tim was 12 and Kate 11. That means 5th and 6th grades. Hmm, what else? I’m sure I can pull out pictures which will jog some memories. But no matter what job I held, no matter what church we attended, and no matter what was going on in the world, it must have been a crazy busy year. And it must have really gotten to me.
Why you ask?
Because I wrote a poem. I found myself wide awake in the middle of the night adding more and more things to my mental to-do list…the Christmas to-do list. The list that would ensure Christmas would be perfect for all my loved ones.
This list was supposed to keep me on track and stress-free. Instead, the opposite happened. I became filled with stress over how much there seemed to do. And in the wee hours of that morning, after this realization struck me, another reality presented itself ever so clearly. In the middle of trying so hard to have a wonderful Christmas for everyone, I had completely missed the reason for the holiday…Jesus.
Jesus was nowhere to be found.
Shopping, baking, concerts, get-togethers all took up time. They became the centerpiece of all my efforts. I was stressed out, tired, melancholy, and certainly not enjoying this beautiful time of year. I didn’t even understand why I was feeling this way. But for some reason, I put a pen in my hand and began writing. I don’t think I had written a poem since grade school. But I wrote and wrote and what you see below is what I wrote that night in 1991.
I poured my heart out. I had been so busy, that I took my eyes off of Jesus, the one who gave me new life. The one I was supposed to be celebrating. With tears streaming down my face, I realized I was the problem. Jesus wasn’t missing. I had left him out.
I learned a lot that night.
Christmases are not always perfect. And I don’t always do the best job at keeping Jesus at the center. But I learned that it’s up to me to find him. And the truth is that he’s right there. I had just covered him up with my to-do list. Once I could set it aside, I was able to uncover the greatest gift of all.
My prayer for you this year, is the one I have for me and my family as well: that amidst the Christmas joy we share with others, we will clearly be able to experience the joy of Jesus.
Jesus, Where Are You?
In the still of the night my mind cluttered with thoughts
Of the approaching season and the gifts to be bought.
There are lists to be made and things to be done,
Never enough time—certainly no fun.
Jumbled thoughts steal my time and my plans go awry.
I meant to be with You Lord—I did! my heart cries.
Yet somehow the busy-ness and crowds came right in
And took up the space where You should have been.
“Jesus, where are you?” my heart longs to shout.
Do You have anything to do with all that’s about?
We say it’s because of You that we rush and we spend
Vast amounts of money, much more than we intend.
A gift for Sally and Susan and John.
One more for Mary and Alice and Tom.
Quick bake a cookie, trim a tree, tie a bow.
Christmas will be here before you know.
Christmas day dawns, everything is all set.
The presents are bought—wrapped all pretty and yet
As I look through each room and the preparations I’ve done.
There’s just one thing still missing—Jesus, God’s Son!
It seems I made time for the pies, gifts, and friends.
But what it boils down to right in the end
In the midst of the rush and the gifts and the carols
I left out the One whose birth angels herald.
It is this One who the season should be about.
Let’s forget all the rest and His praises shout!
Yes, the presents are fine and the food is great, too,
But Jesus was born—for me and for you!
Let’s remember His birth at Christmas this year
Let’s remember God’s gift to us—Jesus is here!
Let’s not get caught up in all the ways of the Earth
But rejoice that in Jesus we have second birth!