2014-12-23 - Focus
When we recently got on Atlanta's I-285 to take our dog for an eye surgeon appointment, I was reminded of the first time I drove on that interstate alone. I missed my exit, and was thoroughly confused. For this is not one of those standard interstates on which you can simply turn around and get back on the road. No, this is one with very little grace or margin for error. I just kept driving until I saw an exit with a road I recognized. It was miles and miles from my regular exit, but at least I was vaguely familiar with the road, so on I went.
At the time, I was working as receptionist at a large church in Atlanta, and within my office window view was what was at that time, the largest building in the Southeastern United States. On the day I was lost, even on the other far side of the city, I could see that beautiful bank building. So I realized that if I kept my eyes on that building and followed it as it became closer and closer, eventually I would end up back on Peachtree Street midtown, and I would be "home" again! So I drove and drove and drove. There were many distractions, for of course I needed to monitor the stop-and-go traffic, both vehicular and pedestrian.
That's how Christmas can be for us, too. There are so many distractions, and most of them are inherently good. Buying gifts for people - gifts that we spend a lot of time on and that express our love for them - is a good thing. Going to church services and worshipping with other Christians, being reminded of Christ's birth, is a good thing. Special music that expresses the joy of the season - that is a good thing, but sometimes we need to meditate more about the meaning of those memorized verses. Watching Christmas-related television shows or movies that remind us of love, peace and good will are good things. All these are related to the original Christmas, because of Christ's love for us that we are to share with others, worship of Christ in services - and reminders to live by Biblical values of love and generosity.
Sometimes there are negative distractions. Some people actually outspend their budget or credit, falsely believing that they can buy approval or love. Some of us are missing our deceased loved ones, though that can be turned into a joyful occasion, as we reminisce about meaningful times together. Some have to work on holidays, though Richard and I have plenty of experience with that, and we know that holiday celebrations are not based on a legalistic date - but rather the fact that those you love are around you, and that you are celebrating together! Like most things in life, Christmas is just what you make of it!
And whatever we make of it, we need to think about the meaning of all our traditions. And we should continue to keep our eyes on the "reason for the season," the coming of Christ to live with us, love with us, and ultimately give His life for us.
On behalf of the entire Christian Fellowship devotionals staff, I would like to wish you a meaningful and joyous Christmas.
Janice P. Moser
All scripture references are from the NASB unless otherwise noted.