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Are you ready for Christmas?

“Are you ready for Christmas?” I asked my friend.

“Pretty much. The tree is up and cards are out. Still have a bit of shopping to do and some baking, of course. How about you?”

“I think I've got it under control,” I said.

But if someone had asked me that question on December 15, 2010, I would have replied in a frustrated, “No!”

Our younger son had just left to report to his first naval base assignment after being home for over a month. Just a few days before he left, our family returned from a week-long vacation in California with him. In less than a week, our older son was coming home for a visit. I had a lot to get done, and I was frustrated.

When we ask others if they are ready for Christmas, we usually mean the outward trappings of gifts, decorations, food preparation, and activities.

But what about preparing for the Christ of Christmas? Are we ready for what He wants to do in our lives? For His presence?

I wasn’t ready for Christmas 2010 on either level. Then, just four days before Christmas, we received the devastating news that our younger son, newly arrived in Guam, had died by suicide.

On Christmas Day we gathered with family as usual. But I remember frequent feelings of confinement, of no escape. I felt like the drawing of Alice in my childhood Alice in Wonderland book. Remember when she was in the White Rabbit’s house and she drank the cordial that made her so big she became cramped in a room far too small for her? That was how I felt. Only my room had no doors or windows in which to escape.

That sensation plagued me until I invited Jesus into the mess. I visualized Jesus beside me in that cramped room. When I did that, my cramped prison fell away . . . for a while. The sensation would return later, and again I would visualize Jesus’ presence.

Isn't that what Christmas is about? The presence of Jesus? Him coming to Earth in flesh so He could live the things that we live, experience all the hard things of life that we experience?

I ask you: Are you ready for Christmas?

Perhaps you’re living with a difficult situation. Try visualizing Jesus right there with you, in the middle of it. While your circumstance won’t go away, perhaps the increased awareness of Christ’s presence will bring peace and comfort, setting your spirit free of the confining situation.

Christmas is not about Jesus freeing us from earthly difficulties and making our life outwardly perfect. It is about setting our spirits free so that we can enjoy His presence.

Again, I ask: Are you ready for Christmas?

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