The week following Christmas is like an over stuffed stocking filled with mixed emotions. The pace of life quickly shifts and our thoughts point to the New Year knocking on the door. The New Year always seems to yell, “Ready or not, here I come.” It comes bursting in and there is no stopping it. But wait, Christmas cannot be over yet!
We desire to pause and relish the good times recently shared with family and friends, but the remnants of celebrations beckon us to clear the left overs. Left over bows and bags, lingering glitter, decorations that now seem awkwardly out of place. Left over gifts and yes, let’s not forget the left over turkey. I must admit left over turkey is not an issue at my house, but the green and red M&M’s still filling the Christmas tree jar tempt me to have just one more.
As I take down the decorations, there are many things I just want to hold on to a little longer. Longer, as in forever! The baby Jesus nativity piece is one I never want to push back into the styrofoam tray. It feels so wrong. And then there are the words of Christmas carefully placed throughout my home that need to remain as gentle reminders all year long. My focus has been on joy throughout the month of December and this I certainly don’t want to pack away. I think I counted six “joy” tree ornaments; a “joy” nativity on the mantel; “joy” candles on the bathroom shelf; “joy” on a kitchen plate. And there it is on the beverage napkins too!
Of course the words themselves do not guarantee joy in my home or my heart, but they certainly remind me of this great gift of Christmas. Joy didn’t come wrapped in a package or carved into wood or painted onto glass. Joy came wrapped within a wooden manger. Love went to the cross and joy came from the cross. Joy came through His lavish love.
Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2
Herein lies the secret: We look to Jesus and keep our eyes fixed on Him. We watch how He lived and how he died and we will know the secret of real joy. Jesus endured the cross, the pain, the suffering, the brokenness for the joy set before Him. The joy of obeying His Father; the joy of returning to heaven with His Father; the joy of purchasing you and me as His own. We too can endure all of the pain, suffering, brokenness, injustices because of the joy set before us. He accomplished the victory for us; therefore we can live with joy etched into our hearts.
As we open the door to 2017, let’s step through it with great joy in our hearts. Unafraid of what the year will bring, but confident that He has gone before us and lives within us enabling us to do all things in His strength. The world awaits to know this great love and joy and we have the privilege of delivering it to them like a lit banner declaring the glory of the Lord.
“May His joy flood your hearts beyond capacity that He may spill out on a world desperate to know Him.”