I remember there was a band in the 80’s called INXS. I also remember how for years I used to try and sound out INXS but the name never made sense to me. A few YEARS later I realized that INXS stood for In Excess. They used texting script before texting was even thought out – LOL!
I write that to tell you this…that’s what Christmas is about in many homes across America today. Does anyone else feel that “let down” after the Christmas day has passed? I often feel like there is so much anticipation and busyness leading up to the Christmas “events” that when it comes we have missed the point (yet again) and it’s a letdown. We buy too much JUNK and focus way too much on how we will pay for it, who has the best sale, and then after that hopefully the person receiving likes what we have stressed over for days or even weeks ahead of time. The recipient opens the gift and then they are quickly on to the next gift – even if it is an awesome gift – something else comes next.
If you are like a lot of people in America you too might notice that we get way too much stuff for Christmas. Well, the let down for me this year happened on the evening of Christmas. We were driving home from spending the day with our families and I started to cry. If you know anything about me, you know that it doesn’t take much for this to happen, but this cry was one of those sad cries. So sad for the people we have lost in our lives, broken relationships, and too much junk following me around. And since I am being honest maybe a little sad that it might also be the extra pounds that keeping following me around, too. Anyways, as I laid in bed that night I kept waking up throughout the night and my first thought was always “Too much stuff. We bought too much stuff. We missed the point for another Christmas.” Every time I woke up from sleeping the thoughts were there and they were the same. It wouldn’t go away. And then the guilt came, “Why can’t you ever learn, Paula?” Is it just so overwhelming to me that I forget every year? Is that it? Or is it that I just keep choosing to forget and choosing to replace God with gifts under the tree?
The day after Christmas was even worse. The meltdowns came hard and fast. It was so depressing. Plans that our family had made for the day were ruined because of it all – because of me. It was a hard day. So hard, that I didn’t want to know what God’s Word said about my selfishness. I didn’t want to think of His promises. I wanted to run far, far away. I was ashamed. Ashamed that I had been so prideful, sinful and disobedient throughout the day because I was so frustrated with myself. Frustrated that I did it again. I tried to fill the void that I had let Christmas become so materialistic that I hadn’t even considered the real reason for Christmas.
Boy, I am glad that day is over and today is a new day. I sat in my living room last night and thought, “God, I am so tired of not learning my lesson. I am so tired of disobeying You. I know You must be so disappointed with me. I am so sinful and ashamed.” I knew He was listening. He just felt distant. I had forgotten about Him. I had tried to fill the void of a right relationship with Him, and the people we have lost in our lives and replace it with JUNK. It doesn’t work, people! It only masks the issues and makes things worse off to deal with later. Take it from me.
Ok, so onto a resolution about this matter. God is so good. Let me say that again, and this time you say it with me. GOD.IS.SO.GOOD. I got up this morning. A new day. A new set of challenges, but still the newness felt so good. A Bible verse that pops up on my phone every morning with a verse for the NEW day. This was the verse for today. Psalms 3:3 “But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.” I was reminded that even in my shame and disobedience He was a shield for me, even from my own self, my own flesh, my own terrible and depressing thoughts. It was a new day and He is the lifter of my head…and still my shield.
I also think that in God’s infinite wisdom He gave someone the idea to start off a new year with resolutions, goals, aspirations, to start each year with a clean slate. A new beginning. We call it New Year’s Resolutions. We are all so human. Even though we know that God’s Word promises that His love for us is unending and unwavering and it is not based on our works or deeds, our sins or failures, we try and obtain His favor through ourselves. When we fail, we sometimes feel there might not be a hope for us through our failures. Psalm 3:3 is a promise. He will shield us. He will lift our head. We can be going through IT and He is still there. Dancing over us while we are unaware.
Here’s a challenge – name the Christmas gifts you received 5 years ago. Can you do that? Ok, 5 years is too long…how about last year? Still struggling – list what you got 2 days ago? As your sort through the INXS of stuff that you got this Christmas, remember that no matter what our Gift from God will never change. It will always be the same. No amount of money can purchase it. There is no need to make an exchange because it’s not the right size, color or duplicated. It is perfect. NOTHING – yes I said NOTHING can ever take the place or negate it. It’s free, and not just at Christmas, but all year long. The Son coming to the earth was the Lord’s free gift to us on Redemption Hill. And we can never have INXS of it.