When It's December 26th
I don't know about you, but I struggle the day after Christmas to get out of bed in the morning... and not just because of all the junk I ate! There is a sense of heaviness and sorrow that presses down on me like a weighted blanket, an unfulfilled longing that seems angry to wake the day after Christmas and not find itself satiated.
If you are willing to be honest with me, I wonder how many of us would admit that this gnawing emptiness bothered us long before Christmas was over.
In my house, we always open cards, then stocking, then eat breakfast, all before presents on Christmas Day. Somewhere in that space between opened stockings and opening presents, the gnawing tends to start up for me.
"Such fun has already come and gone," it whispers.
Christmas cards from me to my family are handmade masterpieces, usually accompanied by some small game to make them even more exciting. When these are complete, a major part of my Christmas prep has been exposed, enjoyed, and moved on from, and the emptiness warns that Christmas is half gone and I am not half full.
Worse, I often feel the gnawing Christmas morning as soon as I wake up or even Christmas Eve, the looming threat that all good will pass swiftly and the ebbing tides of daily drudgery are fast rising again to curl around my ankles and reach up to my neck before I know they are upon me.
And the empty comes with an awful sense of guilt and a wearying pressure to preform, make the most of every moment, savor every sweet, avoid every argument, sin not, fail not, and miss out on nothing. No mistakes or else all the fragile good and the fast disappearing sands of time will shatter like shards of glass and be carried away on the wind.
Do you feel this gnawing emptiness like I do?
If so, fear not.
This Christmas, my family enjoyed a wonderful Advent devotion written by the Perimeter Church leadership team, and it came as a much needed voice of truth.
We were asked what misguided longings we harbor like the Israelites harbored a hope for a political ruler to defeat Rome and were therefore disappointed and missed the riches of Christ. How often are we like that? We want what we think will make us happy, comfort, bring us joy, satisfy. And how often we fail to realize where our hunger really comes from.
Dear friend, your gnawing Christmas emptiness is a spiritual hunger pang.
Don't run from it. Don't stuff it down. Don't fearfully try to preform to appease it. Don't seek to fill it with presents and laughter and chocolate.
Your soul longs for nourishment such wonderful gifts can not provide.
Like a treat of rich chocolate, strong coffee, or sweet pie, Christmas festivities are a delight. But they were never meant to be the meal your soul hungers for.
So do not fear the hunger pangs. Listen to them. They will lead you to the right hand of the Father, the feet of the Savior, the cradle of the infant King. They will nudge you to seek His face, adore His beauty, savor His presence, rest, receive.
Thus equipped, you and I may just find the strength today to smile even with no more gifts under the tree and a few extra pounds to admire in the mirror because we have an adoring Father and a King worth adoring with whom to walk today. And next Christmas, we may just find ourselves a little more free to take it easy, enjoy, without the pressure to make it perfect. We may just find it easier to receive and taste and enjoy the messy treats of family gatherings, present unwrapping, and Christmas dinners without expecting them to satisfy. We may even learn to welcome the spiritual hunger pangs that keep us ever re-turning to gaze at the Savior at the center of it all. There we will find soul satisfaction.
"'I am the bread of life,' Jesus told them. 'No one who comes to Me will ever be hungry, and no one who believes in Me will ever be thirsty again.‘“ John 6:35 HCSB
Believe. Receive. Rest.
Happy December 26th!