I’d love to go to a Christmas dance this year and twirl under sparkly little lights. I’d love to sway in an elegant, shimmering red dress and watch as Mr. Right looks on in admiration. I’d like to have him smile, offer me his hand, his cheek and his heart while he pulls me in close to a Christmas melody. Yes, I’d love that.
But Mr. Right hasn’t shown up to invite me (yet), so I haven’t put any Christmas dances on my calendar. But I have decided that I’m still going to dance my way into Christmas anyway with Jesus as Giver, Emmanuel and Source of Life.
Dancing with Jesus as the Giver
At Christmas time, it’s so easy to get hung up on the commercialism of the holidays. To remember the real reason for the season is to have the heart of Christ—a giving one that is focused on what really matters, like giving your life for those you love, rather than what really doesn’t, like the latest technological gadget or newest fashion trend.
If you’re tired of running like a rabid dog from one store to the next purchasing things for people you barely know who hardly like you, take a lesson from Simon Birch. He can help you dance into Christmas with Jesus as the true Giver.
In the 1998 movie Simon Birch, the main character, 12-year-old Simon, is unusually small because of a birth defect. Even though he is little, his confidence is big, and believes God created him to do great things–specifically to be a hero. Though his stature causes him heartache, his size is the reason he is able to save many children when a school bus crashes into a freezing river. Simon climbs through a bus window too narrow for anyone else to set his classmates free. When I saw the movie, my heart screamed in jubilation, Yes! Simon’s dream came true! He got to be the hero! Then my heart sank when he died the next day.
I couldn’t help but think about the parallel between Simon’s life and mine. Many times I would like to be a hero for someone, (like purchase them a nice Christmas gift or take them some holiday cookies,) but that is as far as my sacrifice goes. I don’t want to have to die to be anyone’s hero. Of course, I’m not referring to physical death like Simon experienced, but dying to my own desires.
This Christmas, I want Jesus to teach me afresh that one paradox of His Kingdom is that death births life; losing means winning; and being the greatest means being the least–and sometimes that involves giving more than a gift but losing myself and dying to what I want to bring someone joy. It means serving, and letting go of the things that are really valuable to me, like my time, my talents and something that is not easily purchased at Target.
Will you join me in serving from the heart this year? You’ll look great dancing with Jesus as the true giver.
Dancing with Jesus as Emmanuel
Last year I attended a candlelight Christmas Eve church service with my family. While there an ache filled my heart because I knew that a young man I had once loved had seen my mother there at the church the day before. As we sang our way through Silent Night, Away in a Manger and Hark! The Herald Angels Sing my eyes fell on a small cloth laying on the communion table. “Emmanuel‚” it read. Ah yes, God with us. Immediately the Holy Spirit lovingly placed his finger on my memories about the young man I had loved and revealed that in this “life spot‚” I had doubted that God was with me, that He was my Emmanuel even then.
Fresh tears filled my eyes. Jesus, you have been with me all of my days, even in every one during my singleness. Forgive me for not trusting you.
Why is it that we can be convinced of God’s care and presence in many areas of life, such as in our careers and friendships, but when it comes to our personal lives and romance, we wonder if He took a leave of absence? We can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He is present in our friendships, but we doubt that He cares about our romantic loneliness. We can experience a kind of “schizophrenic faith‚”—believing on one hand, but being unbelieving on the other. To doubt His love and presence in one area and champion it in another is to live life with a divided heart.
Do you doubt that God is with you, that He has always been and will always be the Emmanuel of your single life? Are you not entirely convinced of His presence?
If you said yes, will you take the hand of Jesus this Christmas and dance with Him into the truth that you are never alone? You’ll be glad you did.
Dancing with Jesus as the Source of Abundant Life
Do you remember the last time you had the post-holiday blues? Did you feel like you wanted to go hide in a closet and eat an entire bag of chocolate? Were you desperate for something you couldn’t quite put your finger on? Believe me, I can relate. Post-holiday blues have hit me many times. But this year, I know there is something I can do to combat the blues—desperation for Jesus.
When the world and all it has offered during Christmas (stuff, stuff and more stuff) doesn’t satisfy my hungry soul, this year I will choose to remember that all that Christ wants me to be desperate for is Himself, his presence, to know Him more, to hear His voice and to do His will. This kind of post-holiday desperation will lead me to the abundant life that He wants to grant me (John 10:10). All other objects of Christmas affection will receive second place on my list under Christ, because if they don’t, I’ll struggle with post-holiday blues more than necessary.
Don’t get me wrong, there can be a lot of fun in giving, getting, and the stuff of the holidays, but no matter how much my stocking has been filled, nothing in it will ever satisfy like Jesus, and nothing can make me more desperate than living without Him at the center of life. This is truly something to celebrate! It means that Christ so jealous for those he loves that He will not allow them to be completely satisfied in anything but him.
My prayer is that this year you’ll be desperate for Jesus like never before so you can dance with Him into Christmas and post-Christmas with a smile on your face and a joy in your heart. And I pray that you’ll discover or rediscover Him as Giver and Emmanuel.
Shana Schutte is a freelance writer, author and speaker living in Colorado Springs, Colo. (www.runtogodministries.org)