Do You Hear What I Hear?
Have you ever played the game where everyone sits in a circle and passes a whispered message from one person to the next? What comes from the mouth of the final person in the circle is often very different than the original message.
I thought of this game when I read the poignant lyrics to the Christmas carol, Do You Hear What I Hear?
The night wind asks the little lamb, “Do you SEE what I see?”
The little lamb asks the shepherd boy, “Do you HEAR what I hear?”
The shepherd boy asks the mighty king, “Do you KNOW what I know?”
And the king says to the people everywhere, “LISTEN to what I say … “
In order for the true message to reach the people everywhere, the lamb, the shepherd boy, and the king had to be very careful to retell the exact information they received.
What if the little lamb had tuned out the message from the wind or had dismissed the meaning of the star? What if the shepherd boy regarded the celebration in the sky as an irritating ruckus that prevented him from sleeping? What if the mighty king refused to listen to a lowly shepherd boy?
Perspective can change everything, can’t it? I know there are years when the Christmas season is tough to endure. I’ve heard many say they’d like to disappear in November and reappear in January. And my heart breaks for the pain they suffer.
My sweet friend lost her husband just weeks ago in a shocking turn of events no one expected. We understand that she doesn’t feel like celebrating Christmas this year. But how does she prevent the natural seeds of this year’s unhappiness and mourning from growing into strangling vines of bitterness and defeatism in future years?
I believe it starts at the manger.
One Christmas, a few years back, I was in a similar situation. I felt numb. The decorations seemed an empty display. The carols sparked memories of precious times that would be no more. What used to be a season I loved and eagerly anticipated now stoked severe depression within.
My good life ended with the loss of my spouse the year before. I would never be truly happy again. These messages tormented my mind—the very type of messages I mentioned above that get jumbled as they are passed from one person to the next. Or more precisely, from Satan to me.
I refused to buy the lies, as real as they seemed, because I knew the truth. God promises us abundant life in Him, and I wanted that enough to face the pain. To enter into the holiday routines with raw faith that God would heal my broken heart and return my joy. I believed God had more for me than just “getting through” the season. I asked Him, “Will I ever enjoy Christmas again?”
Instantly, the thought came to my mind: Stop thinking about what Christmas WAS, and think about what Christmas IS.
Though my feelings fought me all the way, I obeyed the instruction the Holy Spirit.
I returned to the manger—the Truth, the Light, and the Way—and chose to focus on what Christmas is. Because of Christmas, I have unending fellowship with my heavenly Father. Because of Christmas, I will see my husband again. Because of Christmas, I will spend eternity with God and those I love.
My heart gradually changed as I allowed God to cleanse my lens of understanding. My object of focus. My perspective. Once again, I began to SEE, HEAR, KNOW, and SHARE the miraculous truth embodied in the Christmas story.
New life in Christ. Unending love, joy, and peace—not to be found in, or based on, circumstances, but received as a direct result of spending time in fellowship with God. Of course, I have to consciously purpose to walk in this new Light as life repeatedly dirties my lens with new sorrows, fresh fears, and troubling circumstances. All things I cannot change or control.
But this I can do . . . I can celebrate the birthday of the Christ Child. The King. My Lord and Savior. I can purposely determine to allow every Christmas tree I pass to remind me of the sacrifice Christ made for me, and the privilege I have of being rooted in His love. Every candle, the Light of the World—so brilliant, yet intimate enough to reside in me. Every gift, the body of believers who encourage and support one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. And when I hear the Christmas carols, I will join with the heavenly hosts in joyful adoration of the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
“The Child, the Child. Sleeping in the night. He will bring us goodness and light.”
Barbara E. Haley
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