For months I’d been telling my youngest daughter that I wouldn’t even think about Christmas until after Thanksgiving.
The day after Thanksgiving she asked me what I’d like to get for Christmas. I paused, trying to really think of an answer to the question. Eventually I lied and told her that I didn’t know.
I did know what I really wanted that night. I just couldn’t tell her.
I wanted a good appointment with her psychologist that week.
I was searching for a medical professional that could really help our family, someone who cared.
I longed for a party where I didn’t have to bring our own homemade, allergy-safe treats.
I was desperately hoping that we could spend our busy December days doing something other than running to doctors’ appointments.
Let’s face it. I was going in to the Christmas season with a severe case of the grumps. My heart was two-sizes too small, and I was quickly turning into a Grinch.
I was focusing on myself and my circumstances, not on God. I was worried about the crazy logistics of providing for special needs children in the midst of all the holiday activities.
A few mornings later, I settled into my
sleigh SUV and started on the long drive to another round of doctors’ appointments. Our youngest daughter was listening to Christmas songs on her iPod, singing along joyfully. I absentmindedly left the car radio on a Christian music station.
I wasn’t really listening, but I did keep noticing how so many of the songs talked about Immanuel.
From studies years ago, I remembered that Immanuel means God with us.
And that’s when I realized what I really needed this Christmas season. I needed God. I needed God to be here with me.
I already knew that what I wanted wasn’t going to be found under the Christmas tree. On that lonely morning driving towards the hospital I remembered that what my soul needed most had already been found — it was found two thousand years ago in a manger.
When Isaiah prophesied about the coming Messiah, he wrote, “They will call him Immanuel (which means God with us).” (Isaiah 7:4, NIV)
The best gift of this holiday season is knowing that God is with us.
During the sometimes crazy season of Christmas, I leave you with this reassurance:
Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10, HCSB)
When my heart feels two-sizes too small this Christmas, I’m reminding myself that the real gift will always be found when I look in the manger. God is with me.