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Getting ready for the Christ child

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Some of us never feel quite ready for Christmas. It always seems like there's something left undone. The tree is trimmed, the presents wrapped, the Christmas cards addressed and mailed. Yet, a nagging thought insists something has been forgotten. Recently, I joked that Jesus is coming and I'm still not ready!

Jesus came over 2000 years ago, and each of us still has to prepare to receive the Christ child. So many times, He shines the light of His truth into my heart, revealing yet more things that have been pushed toward the back. Those are the things that can wait. There are so many more important things to do. I try to take care of the surface clutter, but some of the dust is often swept into a corner until a more convenient time. Too many things are demanding my attention. As our pastor recently mentioned, distractions can be the beginning of our falling away.

It seems the more I clean my house, the more there is to do. It's so overwhelming at times. So it is with my heart. I can never just sit back and say it's all done. Every day brings a new opportunity to align myself to His truth.

Jesus' plan of salvation and sanctification is not really so overwhelming, but so simple. We must be always turning away from our selfish desires and turning toward the truth of His word. We can't just do it once and be finished. Like the laundry and the kitchen floor, it takes a daily maintenance to keep our hearts in order.

My heart often feels more like a rusty hinge than a blossoming rose. I can't force it to open and receive the light of His truth before it's ready, else the petals will fall off and die. It needs oiling and attention to slowly open wider and be filled with more love.

I have always loved to climb up on a soap box. I use the soap box to help me climb onto my high horse. More often these days, though, when I catch myself climbing onto that soap box, and I'm about to hoist myself onto that high horse, I see Jesus high and lifted up, and I close my mouth in silence. He said, "If I be lifted up, I will draw all men to me." (John 12:32) He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, but He uttered not a word. (Isaiah 53:7) He took the shame and the punishment that should have been mine, and I am speechless at His grace. I have no room to point a finger at anyone, but must just keep turning and aligning, turning and aligning day after day.

An old Shaker folk song called Simple Gifts has long been a favorite of mine. It says

'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free

'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,

And when we find ourselves in the place just right,

'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gained,

To bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed,

To turn, turn will be our delight,

Till by turning, turning we come 'round right

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