I am surrounded by all the busyness of Christmas. My tree is lit, the lights are in the windows, the cookies and candy are ready, the gifts are under the beautiful tree. All day long, people have been asking, “Well, are you ready for Christmas?” I have been answering, “Yes, I am ready.”
I hope you are ready in the same way I am ready. You see, twenty-five years ago, a significant event took place in my life at Christmastime. I was a very worldly and unhappy person back then. I was in a bad way, a miserable marriage, and loaded down with debt and sins. I used material things and alcohol to soothe my empty heart and fill up the lonely hours of my life. As a result of those awful decisions, my life was a complete wreck, and I despaired of living any longer.
I knew who God was, I believed in Him, and I thought (hoped) I could do enough things to make up for the bad things in life so that, at the end, I would get to go to heaven. I did not understand much more about God than Jesus died on the cross because I was a bad person. I never gave it much more thought than that. I prayed religious prayers, did my religious duty (when I felt especially guilty), went to church on Christmas and Easter, and even sometimes in between.
I was encouraged to read the Bible by a friend who had recently “gotten saved.” Now, I was pretty sure I didn’t want anything to do with that whole business, but I knew I needed something, or life was just not worth living.
As I began reading in Matthew, I fought to keep going, for none of it meant much to me. The genealogy was difficult, and the Christmas story I knew… But, I kept reading and was just about ready to quit when I came to Matthew 7.
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. “Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? “Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” Matthew 7:7-11 (NASB)
In whatever mysterious way the Spirit moves upon the heart of a person, those were the words He used to begin the transformation of my heart from one of stone to one of flesh. I recall reading and re-reading them and finding that they were entirely appropriate for me. I was most certainly evil, and I knew how to give good gifts to my child. I also admitted that I was seeking something; I just wasn’t sure what — until that moment.
In just those brief moments of time, everything changed. Everything changed! I changed! And suddenly, I prayed to God as I never had before, asking Him to save me from my sins, to come into my heart, to give me the Holy Spirit, and to give me the gift of eternal life. I changed in an instant from one who was lost to one who had been found by God; from one who was God’s enemy to one who was God’s child!
So, yes, yes, yes! I am ready for Christmas! I am ready for the return of Jesus Christ! Oh, come! Oh, come, Emmanuel!