As I write this, Greg’s 70th birthday is just around the corner. It’s a big one as decade birthdays go, and it’s been on my mind for at least six months. I have all my ideas of how to celebrate him. But when I shared them with Greg, he has entirely different thoughts about what he would enjoy most—so I have some serious re-thinking to do!


Planning a party for someone is a joy when we know what makes them feel loved and valued. But when we get into the details—the guest list and invitations, where to have it, what to serve, decorations and shopping for the perfect gift, writing the perfect Instagram tribute  . . . whew!


If we aren’t careful, all our efforts to make it picture-perfect are reduced to groaning under the task.


You see where I’m going with this, don’t you. Christmas is coming! Well yes, it’s nearly here and we are feverishly fussing to make it the best one ever for our families and our friends. We want this season to be joyful, especially for the children in our lives—so by all means, deck the halls, light the tree and make merry! This is not a rant against holiday traditions, I promise. But truly, can we pause for a moment and think about this together? We know whose birth we are celebrating, so what would He enjoy most?


A gift? A card? Greg says that guys only open a card to see if there’s money in it—not true! His wall is covered with cards filled with artwork by our grandkids!


A card, yes. But what would I say? All I have to do to stir gratitude is imagine the unthinkable. What would our lives be like without the people we love, our dear ones we so often take for granted? How much truer for my soul when I stop running all around and think for a moment what my life would be, if not for Christ. Without Him, my life would be a wasteland!


I am who I am because of who Jesus is to me.


He loved me and gave Himself for me.


That’s what Christmas is truly about. Advent reminds us to focus on the story of Jesus’ birth. To teach our children how this babe in a manger was born to set His people free and bring joy to every longing heart.


It awakens the joyful remembrance of Christ’s first coming and stirs deep eagerness for His second coming!


In many ways, the church today is in a similar position to God’s people in the time when Christ was born—marginalized, dismissed by this world, holding onto hope in darkness, waiting in stillness for the day when Christ returns.


Advent reminds us that all the promises, hints and signposts of His first coming were fulfilled on that night in Bethlehem; now the signs and promise of His second coming are all around us.


We truly are living in between “the Hallelujah of that first Christmas day and the Maranatha of Christ’s return.”


All of this reminds us to push back on the busyness and let every heart prepare Him room.


This is a busy season, but it doesn’t need to be a blur. Pause and savor the sweetness of knowing how great and incomprehensible was the price of Jesus’ incarnation. How magnificent His plan from eternity past to become Immanuel, God with us. How costly the gift of salvation He purchased for you and for me!


This is my prayer for you, for me, this Christmas. Lord help us slow down and cultivate a worshipful heart that prepares room for You.