Present or Presence

Christmas Day morning – 5:30 a.m. Can’t sleep. No, I’m not excited about the presents under the tree. The tree is only 2.5 feet high and sits on a table and I have reached the stage in life where I don’t need anything nor do I want anything. So, getting a present under the tree is not what it is all about.

Many people and families get excited about Christmas because their families travel back home so everyone can be together. I understand. That’s really neat. However, my six children all puchased homes within 10 minutes of this home where they grew up. And, I see them regularly – in fact, having coffee or a meal with my girls almost weekly … and with the boys whenever work schedules (their’s and mine) allow. So, Christmas is not a big ‘family reunion’ time for me.

No, it’s not about ‘family’ per say although we do get together with each family unit during this two week span of time and share a meal and the whole gang gets together for an evening. And presents have not been a focus (never were THE focus) for a number of years. But, I do look forward to the season as things slow down and I travel less and so have more time at home – allowing me quality time to take a spiritual inventory and see where I’m at – to take stock of what the Lord has done over the past 12 months in me (not looking at ministry – but at my personal relationship with Him). It also allows me to look at how things are right now and what might be the direction for my relationship with Him in the coming new year. I call it a time of spiritual inventory. King David would have said: “Search me O God and know my heart…” I find it is often me that has lost touch with his own heart due to constant activity and so I am the one who needs to become reacquainted with my own heart. The Christmas / New Year’s break is a good time to do just this if I can avoid too many additional seasonal activites.

One thing I have discovered over the past 12 months (one of many) is that when I am in need of something – and I go to God with this need (personal or ministry related) – I expect Him to give me something (wisdom, financial blessing, healing…) He often responds with His “presence” and not with a “present” (the money I need, the healing I asked for…). And, in His love and grace this always turns out to be exactly what the doctor (Dr. Jesus) ordered.

Oh, I am often disappointed that the specific thing I asked for was not directly given to me by the Lord. I am often perplexed about the way He is or (to me, at least) is not answering my prayer request. But, during these times (usually twice a year – Christmas and a week-long summer break) I quickly come to realize that although I didn’t get what I wanted (present under the tree syndrome) I was seriously blessed by an increase of His presence during these times of waiting for Him to give me the “present” I was asking for. If you are reading this … I hope that made sense.

One of the changes I am planning to make for 2009 and beyond is to stop asking for “things” (presents) when there is a need in my life or ministry. I am going to try and remember simply to ask for more of Him (presence). Surely He is really all I need and if I have Him everything else (all those needs and wants – presents) I may mention in passing as I walk in His presence will then be there if it is His will to answer my prayers in that way. If not, that will be okay as well – for I will still have more of Him and there is really nothing else I want “under the tree” anyways.

Just more of You (and less of me) in 2009 Lord! And, I’m in tears because of His presence in my study right now – early on Christmas Day – so I will simply leave it there.

Merry Christmas friends!

6 replies
  1. Sergei
    Sergei says:

    For many years I’ve been in a Christian group that considered Christmas something pagan, and therefore being a Christian for 20 years I’ve never celebrated this holiday. Being now our of this group, I don’t see any problem with celebrating it. However, I have to learn how to do it. Last year was the first time when my wife and I got a Christmas tree. It was wonderful: the smell, the atmosphere it created. So I have a lot to discover how to have fun with this day, but I am still young and I get all excited about this 🙂

    Reply
  2. Sergei
    Sergei says:

    As a side note to my post, isn’t it amazing how “religious theology” can deprive people of having freedom and fun with the Lord. I remember one movie where strict father punished his kid for eating Christmas pie, because he believed this holiday was pagan.

    It makes me to wonder why many paganism fighters still use the names of our week days despite their pagan origin (they actually are formed from the names of pagan gods). But… in the group where I was we never said “Sunday”… 🙂

    Reply
  3. Ralph
    Ralph says:

    Sergei,

    If I am not mistaken Jehovah Witnesses also do not celebrate Christmas and believe the Christmas tree to be a pagan symbol.

    Interesting that you belonged to a Christian group (church) that outlawed this tremendous seasonal celebration of the Lord’s bith. And, you make a good point regarding why then this same group continues to use the names of the days of the week as they certainly have roots in pagan society and are named after pagan gods.

    it is interesting the man-made rules that can be and are created that take from the freedom that Jesus came to give us. It is interesting how quickly that freedom can be stolen from us by the good intentions of man and cause us to come back under legalism that simply and always lead to bondage.

    Sounds like quite the spiritual journey into freedom that you have embarked upon.

    Reply
  4. Sergei
    Sergei says:

    The saddest thing is that such groups speculate on people’s desire to be absolute for the Lord. And it shows how dangerous is our zealousness when we want to serve the Lord by our flesh. “…they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law…” (Rom. 10:2-3).

    Grace is abusive to carnal mind, coz it deprives us of our own glory. So this is what it is all about. Who gets the glory – me or God?

    Reply
  5. Bev Wensel
    Bev Wensel says:

    …grace is abusive to the carnal mind…a grt way to put it,(as is *insulting the intellect*)
    I’ve discovered that those {IN the church, but not necessarily saved} who show little love & compassion, have not YET come to the place of needing grace(love/forgiveness/understanding)It’s amazing how quickly we change when humbled!
    B&V

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  6. Ralph
    Ralph says:

    “Jesus came”, John’s Gospel states, “full of grace and truth”. No wonder people did not receive Him (again, John’s Gospel – chapter one). People don’t want to know the truth or, at least, they prefer their own version of the truth. Of course, it is always different than Truth as found in Jesus and the Word. And, grace is hard for the flesh to grasp and receive.

    Reply

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