Thursday, December 03, 2009

When I don't desire Christmas

The first book I read by John Piper was called Desiring God. I was amused when I later saw he had written another book called When I Don't Desire God (both of which are excellent reads and highly recommended).

I thought of the title recently as I was reading comments and e-mails from people who weren't ready for the Christmas season.

I can relate entirely to those years when I don't desire Christmas. The season comes upon us whether we are ready or not and... let's face it... there are cultural expectations to be jolly.

This was almost one of those years for me as there have been more-difficult-than-usual health and financial challenges.

I came very close to not decorating at all when I remembered the advice I am always giving others... do the opposite of what the enemy of your soul expects you to do.

It can be as simple as that when one is fighting the temptation to depression or bitterness or feel they are at the end of the proverbial rope. All such emotions are magnified this time of year.

In my case, I had hubby pull out a few Christmas boxes from the shelves in the garage... mostly those which had to do with the tree and ornaments. Even then I found the battle in my mind raging as I put together the inexpensive tree and thought back to the gorgeous artificial tree we had in our former home... the one which was damaged during a move.

I begin to think of our former large house in a nice neighborhood (even though I love this little place at the edge of the woods) and how lovely that tree looked, past Christmas seasons full of joy, the horrible move in which the tree was damaged... losses past. It doesn't take long for a mental rabbit trail to take us down a road which leads only to an unthankful heart.

Once again I did just the opposite of what the flesh wanted... I opened the laptop to this blog and listened to the beautiful Christmas music playing in the background. The tree was assembled and partly decorated before I became tired. The next day I was refreshed physically and mentally, the remaining ornaments were placed and then tweaked... a few other decorations which had been in the boxes were placed around the rooms and on the porch... very simple presentations.

Just enough... it was just enough to bring Christmas beauty to the Season and a smile on our faces as we enter through the front door. We won't miss the contents of the other boxes, although I feel badly for all the remaining snowmen and snowladies who will miss their annual opportunity to escape their plastic prison and show off for a month or so. :)

Did just a few hours of work make a difference? Oh, yes... the circumstances have not changed but my soul finds such joy as I plug in the tree during the dark of early morning, enjoying my first cup of coffee while pondering as the light reflects a sparkle of vintage red bulbs.

I will look over my list from last year which I recently posted, to see what is possible given limitations. I've mentioned so many times that the best gift we can give our children is to manage their expectations so they can enjoy the Season regardless of the number of gifts under the tree or outside activities... to swim against the cultural stream that more is always best... and learn to enjoy the simplicity of less. Some years we have to remind ourselves of this Truth.

Only by learning these lessons can we truly develop the gift of a thankful heart when God provides financially or we awake pain free. When we experience the joy and lightheartedness brought by reading through the Psalms or listening to the music of the Season as the lyrics proclaim the Glory of God... we truly can thank The Giver of All Good Gifts.

This journey we are on as fellow Sojourners of the Gospel is in a world which is still fallen, the tares still grow among the wheat, war is prevalent in the four corners of the planet, greed and power corrupt those at highest levels of government and business which brings grief to families, our bodies weaken with illness or age... it is not Perfection.

All we can return to the Creator at times is our attitude. What will we choose? What small action can we perform today to show the enemy of our souls that he is not going to win. We are not covering our head with a blanket, holding our breath, and waiting for January 1st and the Season to pass.

No... we may not feel full of joy and expectation this year but we will choose to celebrate the birth of Christ whether you... oh, evil one... like it or not. Choosing joy is a form of spiritual warfare on this fallen planet, my friends.

But... there is coming a Time and a Place... where joy will be the very atmosphere we breath. Until that time, let our lives reflect His love and His peace and His glory. :)


Samantha said...

Thank you, so many reminders I needed this morning!

Beth said...

Thank you so much for this lovely post. I especially love the question you pose to us, "What small action can we perform today to show the enemy of our souls that he is not going to win?"
I'm going to put that in my blog today (giving you credit, of course,) and mention it to my family tonight at our devotions. Thank you, dear one, for your thoughts you shared!

Lorrie said...

Thank you. I just wrote out the sentence, "Do the opposite of what the enemy of your soul expects you to do" on a card to have here at my desk. Very timely words.


Heather L. said...

Thanks Brenda. This was a very encouraging post -- especially about doing the opposite of what the enemy is telling you and also that choosing joy is a form of spiritual warfare (and can I say sometimes it has been extremely difficult!!!!)

Scrappy quilter said...

Beautiful as always. Slowly, ever so slowly I'm starting to get excited. How can I not when all but one of my kids will be home along with 3 of our grandkids.

Thanks for these posts about Christmas the past couple of days. You definitely have the gift of encouragement. Hugs and love

Susan Humeston said...

Oh aren't you wonderful. Thank you SO much. I completely realize you are right right right. I'm not going to give in to the doldrums. We'll get a small tree this weekend and I'll decorate - or maybe even sooner. You reminded me oh so eloquently that we CHOOSE joy. What a wonderful friend you are - sigh. You are such a fulfillment of the verses in Timothy where the one who goes before (you're not much older than I if at all, so I won't use the phrse, "older woman" for more than one reason) prepares those behind her and lights the way. This post is going to be copied to my computer and put in a "favorites" file.

Anonymous said...

Brenda, you are so inspiring! I really liked the idea that joy is a form of warfare against the evil one; it is also a glory to God!

Friend Debra

Lynn said...

Well said, Brenda. I love your advice to do the opposite of what the enemy would have us do. That's a new thought for me, and one well worth pondering.

Anonymous said...

I read this post right before I had to take my fur baby to the Vet, and thought about your words several times over the course of the afternoon. It's been one of those weeks, you know, the kind where you just want to not have to deal with stuff?
Thank you Brenda, for being willing to allow the Lord to use you to reach out and encourage the rest of us even in the midst of your own challenges.
I don't think you will ever fully know this side of Heaven the lives that you've touched through your blog, and I pray that you are encouraged by the comments that are left for you.
God Bless,

Connie said...

Beautiful and true words. We have a choice don't we. I choose to be happy, peaceful, eager, in my walk through life. Things are not always the best, everything is not perfect, but we, as Christians, have the best GIFT anyone can possiblilly have. The gift of salvation!

Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

Hard earned wisdom today Brenda.

You are right of course, all we can give Him is our attitude!

Thanks for the reminder!

Anonymous said...

Awesome! Thanks for sharing your thoughts - they are loaded with spiritual wisdom. And coming from you I know it's wisdom gained from going through hard circumstances and learning the hard way how Satan defeats us. Your words aren't easy platitudes from someone whose life has been trouble-free. God's been teaching me so much in the last couple years about my sinfulness in choosing to think negatively and obsess about the less-than-perfect. He's teaching me to CHOOSE JOY, but I'm a slow learner and your words have helped.
- Marcia

Anonymous said...

Thank you for taking the time to minister to others as the enemy seeks to stifle your voice through discouragement and fatigue! What precious truths for all of us to remember during this beautiful season.

May God continue to bless you with insight and wisdom (and lots of tangible things too!).

Merry Christmas!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the lovely words Brenda. I don't know what led me to read your blog today, but I really needed to hear these words. Our family really has alot to be thankful for, but we as humans lose sight as to what is really important. Thank you again

Anonymous said...

I want to quote your post in my blog. It can?
And you et an account on Twitter?