All I Want for Christmas

 

. . . making the most of the time . . . –Ephesians 5:15 RSV

Leftover turkey in the fridge. Blaze orange clothing over backs of chairs. Plastic bins of Christmas decorations in the hall. Has it really been a year since I packed them away? Before I know it, I’ll be packing them up again.

Slow down, time, and let me savor each day as this season unfolds. Let me not get so caught up with lists and just the right gift and programs and housecleaning and baking, that by the time the day comes, I’ll be a bah-humbug.

Do you know what I’ve wanted to do for a long time?

Toss the lists—we have too much already. Closets and drawers overflowing. Food getting moldy in the fridge. Weight and health problems because we have over and above what we need and too many things we really don’t want.

I’d like to give Christmas away. Take all that money I’d spend on gifts that no one really needs and give it to someone who does. I’d like to go Christmas shopping for a family who wouldn’t have a Christmas otherwise. Food, clothes, toys. Pack it in boxes, leave it on their doorstep, ring the doorbell, and then hide and watch the wonder, the surprise, the joy.

But I’m locked in tradition. And I lack the courage to break it.

I can make a start—by telling my family not to get me anything. I’m not being a martyr here. Honest. I have more than enough.

And ask them, instead, for time. Time to enjoy a leisurely meal together. And it doesn’t have to be one someone spent all day in the kitchen preparing. Macaroni and cheese or bought pizza would be just fine. Time to watch a movie together and eat popcorn. Time to sit around the table and talk or play Monopoly or Sorry or Uno Attack. So what if my youngest son tromps me by fifty points every time we play Scrabble?

I want to call Sam and Deb and invite them to, as they so often joked, “come visit the poor folks.”

I don’t want to look back, at the end of my life, and cry, like poor, rich Solomon did, “Meaningless! Meaningless! Everything was meaningless!” (Ecclesiastes 1:2).

The most meaningful gifts don’t come with a price tag.

Like time. Like sharing. Like love. Like family. After all, when the chips are down, who else do we have? As Robert Frost once wrote, “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.”*

In the end, it all comes down to choice.

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” *

Dear God, give me the courage to take the road less traveled by. Amen.

*“The Death of the Hired Man” and “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost.

From God, Me & a Cup of Tea for the Seasons, by Michele Huey. © 2018. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

 

Steps of Faith

 

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.  ­–Psalm 32:8 ESV

When God called me out of teaching, I resisted. For the entire school year.

I loved teaching. It was – and still is – my passion. And don’t I preach, “Follow your passion”? I’d say, “If I’m cut, I’d bleed ‘teacher’.”

Was God really telling me to give up my job teaching English, journalism, and Bible at the Christian high school? This was my dream job. I must be mistaken, I thought. It made no sense. Our youngest son was in college, and my income helped pay college loans and other expenses.

Yet the nagging sense of unrest and unease persisted. Health problems arose, but I pushed through them. Where would they get someone to replace me? Certified teachers without permanent positions made more money substituting in the public schools than what the private school could offer.

When the school year finally ended, I asked friends to join me in prayer. I had a decision to make. I wanted to be absolutely sure I wasn’t misinterpreting what I sensed God telling me to do.

By the middle of July I had my answer. When I turned in my resignation, a sense of peace filled me. The year-long internal wrestling match ceased. The tightness around my head, like a giant rubber band, released its grip.

It still made no sense, and I still didn’t understand why. But I’ve learned sometimes God tells you to do something that, in your human perspective, doesn’t make sense. And I’ve learned I do not have to understand to obey.

I still don’t know why God called me out of teaching all those years ago, but it doesn’t matter. I won’t even ask Him when I get to heaven.

Two thousand years ago a bridegroom was about to send his betrothed away and divorce her quietly.  She’d told him she was pregnant – by the Holy Spirit. He knew the prophecies, but still . . .

Then one night he had a dream in which an angel of the Lord appeared to him.

“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife,” the angel said, “for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.”

When Joseph awoke, he took a step of faith and “did what the angel of the Lord commanded him and took Mary home as his wife” (Matthew 1:24).

He didn’t ask why. He didn’t demand a detailed explanation. He simply obeyed.

Understanding is not a prerequisite for obedience. Or trust. Or faith. Actually, understanding can be detrimental for faith.

What is faith, after all, but “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see”? (Hebrews 11:1) And “if we hope for something we already see, it’s not really hope. Who hopes for what can be seen?” (Romans 8:24)

Faith and hope are intertwined.

I took a step of faith when I resigned from my teaching position. DH and I took a step of faith when he retired. I’m facing a step of faith in the near future, trying to resist wanting to understand where God is leading me – and why He wants me to press on, forget what is behind, and reach for what’s ahead (Philippians 3:13–14).

What step of faith is God calling you to take? Will you take it?

Thank You, Lord, for those who pray with me as I contemplate and prepare myself for the step of faith You are calling me to take. Amen.

Read and meditate on Matthew 1:18–25

 © 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.