By now, you’ve noticed all the of hustle and bustle that surrounds December. We’re all getting ready. People are making quick maneuvers to snag the coveted parking spot. The cashiers carry looks of weariness after scanning people’s purchases. People zip in and out of stores, hunting for the perfect gift. The toy aisles are especially crowded. Men and women pick up one toy, compare it to the next, and drop one into their carts. I wonder if the gifts are for their children, nieces, nephews, neighbors, or godchildren.
We’ve been in those aisles, too. What will excite my nieces and nephews? What will thrill our daughter Joanna this year? I get caught up in finding the right gift for adults, too. What would make my friend’s life easier? Will she like it?
I’ve also been preparing my home for Christmas. We put up our tree and decorated it. We have the red and green paper chains hanging above doorways. The baking has begun. The Christmas letter mulls around in my head.
One of my favorite things about preparing for Christmas, though, is putting out one special nativity set. A dear friend made it for Jerome and me as a wedding gift. It is lovingly handcrafted. I am reminded of God’s great love for me as I unwrap Mary; she is the handmaiden of the Lord. Watchful Joseph protects his family as best he can in meager surroundings. The manger is filled with hay. I don’t put Baby Jesus in it, though. He won’t be placed in the manger until Christmas Eve. That used to puzzle Joanna, but she has learned that Advent comes first.
Advent is a time of waiting and preparing. During Advent we recall our sins and how much we needed Jesus to become a man and live a perfect life for us. We use the weeks of Advent to confess our sins of coveting and hear the good news that we are forgiven of those wrongful desires. It is a time to clean out our hearts and make ready to receive the Christ-child.
I need Advent. My heart is full of sin. I covet other couples’ children. I covet the husband and wife who will be surrounded with children and grandchildren at their dinner table. I want to hang several stockings for little ones in my house. I’ve been waiting a long time to do that. Yes, the Lord has been gracious and given us Joanna, but I desire more. I’ve been waiting for another child to become part of our family. I feel I’ve been waiting long enough. These are the times when I forget that God gives me the things I need. I need a Savior – one who saves me from my wrongful thoughts and desires.
And so I continue to prepare for Christmas. I go to the Word, where I hear the words of John the Baptist. He says, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” In God’s Word, I hear and read that my sins are removed by the crucified and arisen Christ. I have Jesus.
Now I’m awaiting Jesus’ final coming when He will take me and all believers to Himself in heaven. In this earthly life, I am hoping and praying that God would end my wait for a larger family. While it may or may not happen, I don’t have to wait to find out if heaven is for me. Jesus has told me that He is there, and He is preparing a place for me. Come quickly, Lord Jesus!