In your house, when does Thanksgiving officially come to an end and the Christmas season begin? Do you follow the Advent calendar? Do you have your tree up yet? Or do you resist the peer pressure, thumb your nose at your neighbors, ignore your social media feed, and wait until later in the month? My daughter confessed to me last night, "Don't tell Dad yet, but we have already put up our tree."
It takes me a few days to slide from Thanksgiving into Christmas, but sure as shootin', I can tell that the season has truly kicked in when the cravings begin. All that symbolizes Christmas for me has been resting contentedly in that alcove of my memory, receiving the occasional visitor of thought or recollection throughout the year -- for weeks and months silent and undisturbed, all the way up until just a few days ago. All such peaceful existence came to a screeching halt. I want Christmas now, in complete abundance. I crave Christmas.
My eyes crave twinkling lights and curling ribbons and tiny Dickensian figurines. My ears crave favorite carols and songs and jingle bells and pa-rum-pa-pum-pums. My nose craves the scent of pine and cinnamon and peppermint. I want to start decorating now. I want to light candles and hang greenery. I want delicious treats, and glowing lights, and happy faces, and I want everyone and everything to be perfect.
Paul writes to Timothy about those who will creep in among the believers under his care in order to stir up cravings, to propose ideas and expectations and anticipations and needs that will tempt the weak to wander from the faith in search of satisfaction elsewhere. Paul doesn't go easy on these interlopers, saying they are puffed up with conceit and understand nothing (6:4), declaring they will come to ruin and destruction (6:9) with their bellies full and their hearts empty.
Simply looking forward to Christmas and the joy that comes from the sights and sounds does not result in ruin and destruction, but neglecting the warning against idolatry might send me down that disastrous path. As if the craving cannot be loaded with traps and tripwires -- because it's Christmas and how can that ever be bad? Should discontentment ensnare me, then I -- who knows my weaknesses very well -- will go to any length to find satisfaction, even wrapping up the season of the celebration of the birth of Messiah in my expectations and "senseless and harmful" cravings. (6:9)
Fleshly desires are a powerful lot, intrusive, manipulative, and deceitful. At this time of year, they are especially compelling when driven by the idolatry of "the perfect Christmas." She who would be victorious over them cannot just "remember the reason for the season" or "keep Christ in Christmas" or "believe", still craving something more, something better. She must assume a warfare mentality and put them to death. She must come to the battle with nothing but her desire for Christ above all. She must trust Him to be true, the Savior, her Savior in life and in death.
There is no room in the inn for both the cravings that fester in and erupt out of a heart of unbelief and ingratitude and a desire for Christ (Galatians 5:17). If, like me, at some point in the craziness of this season, you look around you and realize your flesh has been ruling the conduct of your heart, come back to Jesus. Spiritual things cannot begin with us, so don't regard what it is you want -- "put no confidence in the flesh" (Phil. 3:3) -- seek out what it is that the Lord wants. Crave the Incarnate Son of God; take hold of his promises, "O woman of God . . . Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith."
Desire Christ this Christmas.
From Thanks2Giving '17
Return to Thinking again
December 1: Being a Pilgrim for Christmas
December 2: Craving Christmas, Desiring Christ
December 3: Strangers on Christmas Day
December 4: Hail Redemption's Happy Dawn!
December 5: Eureka!
December 6: O Henry, the Magi, and the Gift
December 7: Christmas Impersonators
December 8: This Year's Best Christmas Ad?
December 9: Why So Much Joy?
December 10: Where is the Method in the Madness?
December 11: Waiting for Redemption
December 12: Winter for a Reason
December 13: A Special Little Christmas
December 14: Mary and Holy Merriment
December 15: The Christmas Eve Truce
December 16: His Name Shall Be Jesus
December 17: C.B. and the Meaning of Christmas
December 18: Peace, Not Peace
December 19: Moonless Darkness Stands Between
December 20: He Makes Room for Us
December 21: Speaking of Glory . . .
December 22: A Christmas Carol That's Not About Christmas
December 23: Lessons Learned from Lean Christmases
December 24: All My Heart This Night Rejoices
December 25: The Neverending Gift Exchange
A Concluding Note: Do Not Open Until Christmas 2016
Laura Miller, home for the holidays