Tim Clinton, Ed.D.
“And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”” –Luke 2:7-14
Make sure you don’t miss this Christmas. Let’s take some time to reflect on Christmas, and what the season is all about. Slow it down a notch and figure out how to make sure the pace and the pressure and the pain of everyday life doesn’t cloud out the meaning and significance of Christmastime.
When you think of our culture and look at the powers of the world, we live in a seemingly complicated society with countless options and distractions. But with wisdom comes a deeper focus. I have found that everything in this life revolves around two things: faith and life. It doesn’t matter who, what, where, when – it all comes back to this, especially as you get older and you realize how fragile life is.
Don’t miss this Christmas.
How do you experience a deep joy and peace year after year at Christmastime? You remember the wonder of it all. I love Christmas because there’s a magic and joy in the air of Christmas. My family likes to go to New York City the weekend before Thanksgiving to kick off the holiday season. There’s something in the air – Macy’s store has special events and displays and the lights are everywhere. Of course, New York City is bustling year-round, but there is something special during the holiday season. You don’t have to travel far- bring it back home and you can go to Walmart and see the sheer joy and excitement that comes over a child’s face because they can see the wonder of the season.
To me, when I experience my personal favorite aspects of the holiday season like the Halleluiah chorus, or hearing the reading of the Christmas story, or simple traditions like families gathering, singing songs, Christmas caroling. I like watching The Grinch, Rudolph, Charlie Brown, and more. You know why? Because there’s something that underlines all of it – it has to do with the wonder of Christmas.
The second aspect of a meaningful holiday season is about worship. I think if you really want to make sure and dial into Christmas you go back into the Christmas story. Think about worship for a moment, how the wise men came to worship him. The Lord loves those who worship him. You can spend just a quick brief run on the word worship in scripture and it’s overwhelming.
“Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.”– Psalm 29:2
“True worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.” – John 4:23
The Wonder of Christmas, the Worship of Christmas, and also the Word. If you really want to make sure you don’t miss this Christmas, I want to challenge you with number three – really get into the Word. Spend time this advent season – start today! Just read sections of the scripture. 1 Samuel 3:1 says that the Word was rare in those days. People really weren’t into the word of the Lord. But we’ve been given the incredible gift of scripture, and when we get in it, God really reveals himself. The more you faithfully spend time in the Word, the more you want to. If you want to make sure you don’t miss this Christmas, start thinking, “You know what I’m going to do? I’m going to worship the Lord this Christmas. I’m going to spend time in his word this Christmas.” It just comes alive to you, it really does.
The final W is Want. I love sports, and part of what great coaches and mentors do in sports is to drive talented athletes to a place of belief and determination- they really “want it.” How bad do you want this game? How bad do you want to make something happen? How bad do you want to really be present and impacted by the Christmas season?
Part of what we need to get inside of us in terms of our faith walk and how we approach life is to just get some want back into us. What is it that we’re really looking for? Are we going to be caught up in the mundane of every life, or are we going to pursue something with passion and get some want back in front of us?
If this Christian faith really true and this is what we do, this is what should separate everything about us. And the want factor to me speaks about the drive that is inside being lost in the wonder of it, being lost in the worship of it, being lost in the word that’s been revealed to us. This want creates a dynamic inside of you that will change your world. It may not change your circumstances but it will change the way you look at and approach your circumstances. It really will. It’ll do something. It might just bring some of that stuff that happens in all those stories, Scrooge, the Grinch, or anything else to light in your own life. If you do that, you won’t miss Christmas.
Tim Clinton, Ed.D., LPC, LMFT (The College of William and Mary) is president of the American Association of Christian Counselors, the largest and most diverse Christian counseling association in the world. He serves as the Executive Director of the James Dobson Family Institute and recurring cohost of, Dr. James Dobson’s Family Talk. Licensed as a Professional Counselor and as a Marriage and Family Therapist, Dr. Clinton is recognized as a world leader in mental health and relationship issues and spends much of his time working with Christian leaders and professional athletes. He has authored and edited nearly 30 books, including The Struggle is Real: How to Care for Mental and Relational Health Needs in the Church.