Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Secret that Changes Everything {Don't keep it to yourself!}

Five children means many, many gifts under our tree.  Add to that their enthusiasm for shopping for one another and we easily end up with twenty-five more gifts to stash find a place for after the Christmas season is over!  Not only do I not want my kids to totally focus on receiving gifts, I also want what they do receive to be special and meaningful.
So this year I totally stole an idea I saw somewhere on the internet.  They drew names.

Yeah, I know.  BAH, Humbug.

After the announcement that they were drawing names this year, as their faces fell in disappointment, I threw in the twist.

"Now you cannot tell whose name you drew...and when you open your gift you have to try to guess who gave it to you!"

That changed everything.

I mean, what kid does not love a secret?

The game was on, and the shopping trips were so fun and sweet.  Each child got a special outing with Mom to buy for their chosen sibling.  The thought that went into their gifts warmed my heart.

candy cane, gingerbread, love, heart, Christmas

Despite all the bickering that can overtake our household, they really do love each other.

(As if to make my point, as I typed the sentence above one child came down to tattle on another for coming into their room without being invited.  Excuse me while I have another sip of coffee.)


As I have thought about why the mood change with the addition of secrecy to the Christmas drawing, I have noticed several things that I believe the Lord is using to teach me more about Him and about Christmas.

First of all, their determination to figure out who got whose name.  I mean, y'all, it has been so funny. Some just blatantly ask who got their name, and I remind them it is a secret.  One child, my ever-inquisitive oldest daughter, used Sherlock Holmes-like powers of deduction and guessed every single one.  She is too smart for her own good, but at least she is keeping her knowledge to herself.

The secrecy makes the gift so much more appealing.

Think back to that night, two thousand years ago, when sweet Mary carried the most wonderful secret of all inside her womb.  Imagine those first moments when she held her son, the Son of God, wet and red and wailing in her arms and looked in awe at her husband.  Imagine Joseph and Mary in the quiet of the stable, Joseph's strong body sheltering Mary from the elements, staring in awe at the newborn baby Jesus.

Then there were the shepherds, just minding their own business when the night sky lit up with countless angels proclaiming the Promise.  Has it ever struck you that no one else in all of Bethlehem saw what the shepherds saw?  This glorious show was just for them.  They were told the secret.  They alone were told to go and unwrap the gift God had sent just for them.  And they went.

And the Magi?  Following the Star, knowing it led somewhere, to someone who would turn out to be the most important human being to ever live.  The gift was theirs, if only they were willing to go.  And they went.

Now what if God had done it differently?  What if He had opened up the sky and made a grand announcement to all the world that "Today I am coming down.  I am going to become a man and live a perfect life and die for you, K?  Get ready and I'll be there in 3...2...1..."

It's just not the same, is it?  There is something about a secret.  There is something about knowing you are being given privileged information, knowledge of something wonderful that is just for you, a gift hand-picked by someone who knows you best because it is exactly what you needed, a gift that you carefully unwrap because something precious is inside.

As the redeemed of the Lord, we are the privileged ones.  Hand-picked for us, the Son of God, the greatest Gift, is ours.  But what do we all do when given a gift?  Do we hide it and tell no one about it?

No.  Of course not.  We pass it around.  We share it.  We tell our friends about it.  We celebrate and cherish the giver and the love that went into the selection of that gift.

Yes, friends, that is our calling this Christmas.  The world is so dark.  It seems that the news gets worse every day.  The labor pains are terrifyingly close together and we, the light of the world, have been given a gift.  We have been given the Light.

And here is the best news of all:

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  (John 1:5)

If even the rocks must cry out in praise, how much more should we, the redeemed,  refuse to be silenced in a world that so desperately needs the Light of Christ?  We have been made privy to the most beautiful secret that really isn't a secret at all.  We are called to shine the light into the darkness because darkness cannot overcome light.  

Light always wins.

Merry Christmas.

candle, light, Christmas, Jesus, light of the world, shine, advent, cradle to cross