When I was a youngster, a kid of single digit age, Christmas was an exciting time for me - just as I can imagine it was for you. I was wide-eyed when it finally came time to set up the tree that dad brought home.
Within a few days after the tree was up, presents would magically appear under the tree overnight. My excitement would reach a peak as I searched the name tags. After I found my presents, I would carefully shake them and squeeze them while trying to imagine what they contained. No matter how much I tried, my guesses were almost always wrong. It was awful to wait out the remaining days until Christmas morning when they could be opened.
Today, a tree is still a traditional part of our Christmas, as are the presents placed under the tree for our now-grown-up kids and friends. But, last year there was a new kid in the family to help us celebrate Christmas. That kid was a bright-eyed, two and a half year-old beagle named Betsy. She seemed to be as excited about the presents as I was when I was young. Betsy carefully sniffed each one, and then, she decided to lie down for a time - apparently to plan her attack strategy.
It would have been great if the story had ended there, but it didn't. With no one nearby to witness her next move, Betsy put her planned scheme into action. Our fur covered kid selected a small size present, and proceeded to remove its colorful wrapping paper. Actually, a more accurate description of the paper mess discovered hours later would be, "shredded."
Although better late than never, I scolded her for what she had done. Betsy responded by simply giving me her "I'm so sorry" look. The present was re-wrapped using a much different paper and, then, placed in a new location under the tree. I might add here that there was absolutely nothing about the present that would have been of interest to a dog.
Well, as you might have already guessed, her devious actions were not yet finished. A determined battle of wits and wills were clearly at work, and we were losing the war. Within a few hours our destructive little brat had found that re-wrapped present, and had successfully stripped it of its new paper.
With an almost imperceptible grin on her lips, Betsy simply looked at me as if to say, "So there, dad! What do you think about that?" From that moment on, she has ignored the presents under the tree as if they were no big deal.
We must understand that Christmas is not about our presents, but rather, is all about His Presence. Christmas is a time when believers celebrate the birthday of the King of Kings, who left His heavenly Home to dwell among us as Almighty God manifest in human flesh. His Name would be called Immanuel, which is translated, "God with us."
The Eternal One's physical earthly presence began as a babe in Bethlehem exactly as foretold hundreds of years earlier. He brought with Him the greatest gift of all - the gift of everlasting life for anyone who would believe on His Name and confess that He, Jesus, is Lord.
Where is your heart this Christmas season? Are you focused on the presents and the trappings of the world, or, is your Christmas centered on His Presence? Have you reached out to Him to receive His precious gift? It is a gift that can be opened at any time - not just on Christmas morning.
Is He present in your heart today...and everyday? You must be very sure!
During retirement, my prayer is that I might serve the Lord by sharing the Gospel through my writing. As the Lord leads, my work will inform, challenge and encourage. I also enjoy Biblical theme woodcarving, Bible studies and Christian music. Watch, pray and keep looking up!
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