Merry Christmas! I don’t know about where you are, but here in Wyoming it’s a White Christmas, indeed. We went from 50s and sunny yesterday to 5 inches of snow already – and it’s only the early afternoon. We trekked to church in the snow, but I think we’re hunkering down here at Brandon’s parents’ for most of the day, which means I can finally thaw. Although I hate being out in the snow, there’s something so romantic and beautiful about a White Christmas. I’m just thankful we weren’t planning on leaving town anytime in the next few days.
It’s so easy to be wrapped up in the traditions of Christmas: stockings, presents, twinkling lights, decorated cookies, and time with family. While I love all of those things (especially cookie baking!), I’ve made it a point this year to be intentional in how I think about Christmas. I’ve been trying to consciously think about and process through what Christmas is meant to celebrate: the birth of Jesus Christ.
What’s been revealed to me so powerfully this year is what Jesus’ birth says about God as our Father.
God, a parent like any other parent, could have sheltered us from the world. He could have locked us in the Garden of Eden, knowing that the Garden was the best place for us. He could have saved us from all of the heartache, pain, and challenges of the world of sin. But instead, He gave us something much better.
He gave us the gift of freedom.
One part of being a good parent is allowing your children to make their own decisions, which means allowing your children to make mistakes. Any parent knows that being a parent means loving your children enough to allow them to learn for themselves while still being prepared to catch them when they fall. As the old saying goes, “If you love someone, let them go.”
As the ultimate example of a good parent, God did just that. Instead of locking us up and forcing us to make the best choices, God allowed us to make our own choices. He knew we wouldn’t always make great choices; in fact, He knew we’d make a lot of terrible ones. That’s why He planned from the beginning to send His son to save us and mend our relationship with God so that we’d still get to have eternal life with Him.
When I encounter heartache, it’s all too easy for me to get frustrated with God. Why do we have to endure hard things? Why does God allow us to suffer? But then I remember that the challenges of the world are just a small price to pay for the gift of free will that we have. I get to go running into the loving arms of God not because I’m forced to but because I want to. That’s real love.
As you celebrate Christmas today, I hope you take a minute or two to thank God for being a truly good, good Father. Even as “rebellious teenagers,” God parents us with love and grace every time. How darn cool is that?
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family!