Every year at Christmas it seems a different song gets my attention. Twelve years ago we were anticipating the arrival of our second child when "Joy to the World" had my attention with it's words about preparing. In 2008, "Christmas Makes Me Cry" was a reality as I grieved the loss of my grandma and the baby we lost to miscarriage. One year, after seeing Go Fish at a Christmas concert, I couldn't stop singing "It's About the Cross".
I can't carry a tune or read a note, but music always speaks to me. Words are powerful...they remind us of Truth and point us to our Savior. This year the song that has risen to the service is an old, familiar hymn - "O Come, O Come Emmanuel". Theologically this hymn is full of truth and it has stood the test of time. It reminds us of who Christ is and why He came. It offers hope and encouragement for today and the whole year through.
Personally, it matches up with much God has had on my heart. As we turned the calendar to December I made a vow to be more intentional and as a Mom had the desire to enjoy the season instead of simply survive it. During this time, God has been answering this prayer and continues to lead me on a journey. He has me pursuing holiness and studying sin. He's calling me to step out and press on.
When we sang this hymn in church, I was focused on one word - "Emmanuel". This is a name of Jesus, the one that was given long before He was born and one that stands strong long after He's risen from the dead. Isaiah 7:14 says, "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel." This prophecy is fulfilled in Matthew 1:22-23 - "All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 'The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel.' (Which means 'God with us')."
Over 2,000 years ago Jesus came to earth to be God with us. And today as we approach the celebration of His birth we find ourselves singing "O come, O come Emmanuel". The other day as I did that I found myself singing words I've always sung, but feeling something I had never felt. As I sang, God convicted my heart and posed a question I've been pondering - I ask Him to come, but what do I do once He arrives?
Friend, Jesus is here - His Holy Spirit lives in each of us who call ourselves a believer and claim to be a disciple. At Christmas it's easy to sing the song, but in reality it needs to be about so much more.
Think about it like this...you really want to see a friend or family member and find yourself asking them to come. Eventually that longing is filled and they arrive, what do you do? You spend every minute you can with them while you are together...you talk, you share, you serve. Now switch your thinking...reflect on the time you share with those you live with or are closest to. Do you treasure that time or take it for granted? Are you as intentional with those people as the ones you rarely see?
I'm not sure of your answers, but I've been convicted and received some insight too. God came and He is with us. We no longer have to wait for Him to arrive, He is here and it would be best if we acknowledge, appreciate and enjoy His presence.
As I've thought about this...I've been convicted and encouraged and my perspective has changed. I'm treasuring my quiet time in the morning and seeking God throughout my day. I'm pausing to enjoy my people and thinking differently about God's call. Friend, God leads each of us in unique directions, gives us all specific gifts and expects us to fulfill our roles. As we walk this journey, we must remember it's not about us doing something for God, but all these things present an opportunity to be with Him.
The next time you find yourself striving to do something for the God we call Father remember He wants us to be with the One He sent as Savior. Jesus, our Immanuel, is here, He is with us and wants us to be with Him. As Christmas draws near, do your shopping and buy the presents, but remember to abide with the One who is present. And as the new year unfolds, do what God calls you to do and go where He leads, but let's not forget wherever we go He has answered the song of our hearts and come to be with us!!
This Christmas may we sing this song, but also make this our prayer. Ask God to fill you with His Holy Spirit and eagerly look forward to when Jesus will come again. May we also take time for the ones we are with this holiday season and if death or broken relationships leave us feeling alone let's not forget the One who came is with us always!
Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them,
for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”
Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”