We are in the Advent Season, and the word “anticipation” seems like an appropriate word to describe how I feel about the approach of Christmas. Saints of old, by faith, anticipated the coming of Christ on that first Christmas. Simeon, for example, rested on the promise God had made to him that he would not see death until he had gazed into the eyes of his savior (Luke 2:25-32).
As a child, my parents required that my older brother and I feed and water our horses before starting our celebration of Christmas. We did horse chores every morning and evening, so it shouldn’t have been that big a deal for us to complete these activities on Christmas morning, but the anticipation for Christmas celebrations and gift-giving was at such a high note on Christmas mornings that this task always seemed overwhelming on just this one day each year.
When my older brother was 14 and I was 12 we hatched a brilliant plan. We decided to wake up super early on Christmas morning, feed and water the horses, and then sneak back into bed for more sleep. We laughed with delight at the thought of being able to say triumphantly to our parents “We’ve already fed the horses” in response to their demands that we complete our chores before opening presents.
We set our alarm for 3:00AM.
When our alarm beeped we donned our winter clothes and snuck out of the house
undetected. We breathed in the clean, cold Michigan air as we made tracks in the snow all the way down to the horse barn. We giggled with anticipation. There was a lightness to our steps and to the work as well as we broke the ice out of the buckets, refilled them with fresh water in the pump house, and then stuffed each horse’s trough with hay and oats. In less than an hour we were walking back up to the house. Our spirits were high. We were on course to pull off our biggest Christmas victory until, to our horror, we discovered that we had locked ourselves out of the house!
We thought about returning to the barn – to try to get some sleep in the hay loft. We debated this option for another thirty minutes, but with temperatures well below freezing we decided in the end to ring the doorbell. Our father woke to the sound of the doorbell. He was at the front door in a flash, and when we identified ourselves he opened the door, let us in, and then read us the riot act. We had carelessly sabotaged our grand plan and, I am sure, caused my father undue stress, but even as that Christmas day officially began we were all able to laugh at our own failure to execute.
I am reminded each Christmas of this silly story. It remains a wonderful memory of my own Christmas anticipation. Years have passed since that Christmas morning. I am now a father of five and a grandfather of two,
And even though I am much older, celebrating Christmas hasn’t gotten old.
Remembering this story also makes me thankful that the Christmas plan God set in motion before the foundations of the world were formed was perfect and perfectly executed. It might appear as if things didn’t go as planned when we recall that there was no room in the inn, Mary’s fiancée almost put her away privately, King Herod ordered that all Bethlehem boys under the age of two be put to death, and Jesus and his parents had to flee to Egypt. While the nativity story may seem chaotic and full of mistakes, God was not surprised, and many of these events were foretold in ancient prophecies.
There were no locked doors in God’s Christmas plan!
According to God’s plan, Jesus made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross (Philippians 2). Thankfully, Jesus’s time on earth didn’t end with His death on a cross either. Instead, he defeated death and, through the power of God, was resurrected. Because He lives, we can know abundant and everlasting life by putting our trust in Him.
Have you bowed your head and your heart to Jesus? We often hear that “Jesus is the reason for the season,” and because we celebrate his birth at Christmas this is a true statement. But it is truer still that we are the reason for that first Christmas. “Unto us a Son is born, unto us a Son is given.” Jesus made himself nothing for us. He became Immanuel – God with us – for us. He died on the cross for us. We are the recipients of this incredible Christmas gift.
Have you received it, unwrapped it, made it your own and thanked God for it?
But as many as received him, to them gave he the right to become children of God, even to them that believe on his name. John 1:12
Patrick Fitzpatrick is a Christian school educator in his twelfth year as the head of school at Plumstead Christian School, located in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Patrick and his wife Sharon have been married for thirty four years and enjoy being the parents of five children and the grandparents of two. Patrick enjoys writing poetry and children’s books including his latest, Princess of the Misty Mufu Mountains, a story of adoption, adventure, and love. Patrick’s mother worked for many years at Focus on the Family and still lives in the Colorado Springs area.
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