My husband and I have a very simple Christmas tradition, or so I thought…
I prepare a special meal for us to share on Christmas Eve. We light all the candles in the house and let them burn for several hours. The house smells wonderful, and the lights set a nostalgic sort of feel. We read Luke 2 and trade a handful of presents between us before falling asleep.
This year, my husband offered to change the tradition. He came home yesterday and offered to purchase a backyard fence as my present. I was ecstatic, but then, I wondered what about Christmas. He said, let’s simplify it. Read Luke 2. Watch a movie. Eat Thai.
Sweet, right?–See, I thought my tradition seemed simple. I thought my plans for holiday cookies and a special dinner would make the evening really feel like Christmas. But I lost focus… It’s easy for us to do this time of year amid the holiday rush.
There’s a story in Matthew 14 that relates. You probably know it well. Jesus’s disciples had set afloat on the sea. The Bible says a “contrary wind” battered the boat, and in the midst of this, the disciples spy a “ghost” walking across the water. It’s not too far-fetched, is it?
Picture riding out a stormy night on such a vessel. Many of them were fishermen and had probably known sailors that had drowned. Of course, they assume it’s a ghost. But Jesus calls out to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”
At that moment, my stomach would have turned sick. Peter though, asks Jesus to have him come to his side. He uses the phrase “if it is You”. In that simple exchange, he acknowledges full trust. It’s as if he says, “If it is You, I’ll have the ability to come.”
Today, we also have the ability to come to Jesus. Sometimes life’s waves seem immense. It feels like we’re drowning, but Jesus is able to help us walk in the midst of storms. Peter had a moment of immense faith. He steps out and begins to walk across the water. What would it have been like?
I think we, as Christians, have the ability to know how Peter felt. Picture how we might live with joy, faith, perseverance in the midst of life’s storms. What a testament we could have with others. Peter certainly had a moment of pure glee. But then, the wind howled. He looks down, and fear replaced the faith he had carried.
In our busyness, we have moments of fear too. We forget who carries us over the water, and we begin to tread on our own. It never works. God wants us throughout our day. He wants our entire faith, through good and bad. Jesus took Peter’s hand and rescued him from the waves. Will you let Him rescue you?
I don’t know how we’ll end up celebrating Christmas this year, but it’s the focus of the celebration that matters. May we remember Him throughout the coming weeks…
In His Mercies,