A Blog by Jennifer Aulthouse

A heart for those who want more of God. A desperate plea for those who don't.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

For Your Christmas

“Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.” (Luke 12:51 NIV)

“Jesus, knowing that they (the people who had just experienced the miracles of the loaves and fishes) intended to come and make Him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by Himself.” (John 6:15 NIV, parenthetical explanation my own)

Not exactly the sentiments “peace on earth” and “glory to the newborn king” that I read and sing about in the cards and carols. Yet they’ve claimed my attention over the past 24 hours.

I’m one of these people who have just about all of the Christmas preparations completed somewhere around August 5th.....well, no, but they’re all done and they’ve been done for a couple of weeks. It’s one of the best gifts I give myself so I can simply enjoy the anticipation as the day draws near and immerse my spirit into the “true meaning of Christmas”.....which has become so muddled that, besides the obvious way to answer - Christmas Is About Jesus! – I ponder whether I’m considering this in the manner I’m called to.

In this area last week, 8 children were killed in car accidents within 24 hours, and just about every day since there’s been another traffic fatality. I know another family that has been through one trial and tragedy after another over the past few months, this last one just makes the grief seem unfathomable to me. There was a fire that displaced a few families in an apartment complex just a couple of streets away, and another fire that killed three family members.

Umm, peace on earth?

No, these particular things aren’t the result of human division, I guess, and this isn’t about what or who or Who caused them or why. It’s not time for that debate. Just......none of those things would suggest anything about peace, as the violent pain of loss ravages the hearts of those whose lives have just been overwhelmingly rocked. It isn’t peace as the world knows that we celebrate at Christians, which I suppose I would describe as the absence of conflict, but I think that’s the “peace on earth” we’ve actually been proclaiming is on its way and that we’re longing after as we sign our cards and sing our songs. Jesus said He didn’t come for that.

In my own house these days the atmosphere is quite different, as we’ve been spared thus far from such trial. As a parent, my excitement for Christmas has me about to burst! My children just cannot wait for the day, and I can’t wait to receive my gift of watching their happiness as they drown in the blessings of receiving, of being loved, of experiencing things they have longed for. The countdown is on, and it’s not simply about the gifts. They know there are treats prepared only for Christmas, and that favorite relatives are coming, and there is time off of school, and there is extra sleep and play time to be had in the mornings, and, and, and.....!

And I go through each day with the assumption – no, the demand – that this will all occur precisely as I’ve planned it to. It very well might, to which I should be thankful, right? Well, yes. But I’m missing the point.

I look at these two scriptures on Jesus. The will of God isn’t about our expectations. We need peace, oh how we need it. But maybe He wants me to stop focusing my attention on Him through the lens of my needs. I have dreams, desires, plans.....but maybe He wants me to stop seeing the potential fulfillment of these things as the greatest gift I can receive.

Jesus lets people down all the time, as we read through the gospels. He doesn’t always give what is asked, perform in the way He’s expected to, show up when He’s wanted. He bursts bubbles with His words, He flees from those who cannot see beyond their plans, especially their plans for Him.

It’s obvious that I should be thankful and grateful for my blessings, for His provision of all that I need, His provision of many of the things I want. He should be praised for those things. But I shouldn’t do this and just, only, simply go merrily along my way, watching Snoopy decorate his doghouse and sipping my hot cider.

For me this year, I don’t think I’m being drawn so much to ponder love, peace, hope, joy......these are the gifts bestowed on us as His children and they indeed should be treasured and celebrated. There’s something different for me this year, though. Instead of finding the meaning of Christmas in Him as a Savior who has met my existence-hinging need for peace.....communion with God and the joyful acceptance, therefore, of myself.......instead of finding the meaning of Christmas in Him as a King who reigns and provides for His people with blessings and dreams.....freedom and protection to pursue His will for my life......I see now that I’m being drawn to celebrate that I know Him. My supreme gladness should come from the abundance of relationship, above my very real and worthy needs and my very honest and pressing dreams. Perhaps Jesus just longs for me to be first and foremost celebrating that I know Him, no matter what else should happen. Maybe on the mountain that He withdrew to, fleeing the demanding wills and dreams of those who simply saw Him as the vehicle to get them to the lives they were panting for, He’s inviting me to sit and be with Him just because I’d like to. And I can.

The rest of the gifts – gifts that He delights in giving to us, by the way - will come as He should so deem. Not instantaneously, most likely. But it’s pretty amazing that He treasures and celebrates knowing us.

Merry Christmas.


  1. Very well said..you write from the heart and spirit...thank you for sharing your gift of writing that God has givin to you..Paul

  2. You have written about the side of Christianity that we long to overlook....the same side that caused the apostle Paul to say "to live is Christ, to die is gain." There would be no need for us to be admonished to "rejoice when we meet various trials" if all was outward blessings in the Christian life. We are never closer to our God and Savior as when we are suffering, because it is then that we allow Him to carry us. I love this post, Jen!.