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Keep your eyes on the prize during Christmas

Well folks, Thanksgiving is over, and so is November. I have a problem with the way the calendar treated us this year. 

Thanksgiving Thursday fell too late in the month, causing most of us to join in a sprint to Christmas. With such little time, how in the world am I going to get the weight off from Thanksgiving before I start eating those Christmas cookies? I guess I will just have to keep my eyes on the prize and not worry.

The Amazon UPS and Fed-Ex trucks are clogging my street. Cars weave around them, and as I watch, I pray the dogs and neighbors keep their vigil for wayward vehicles and distracted drivers. The packages are landing on door stoops everywhere, and I worry that perhaps the Grinch will take them away. However, I shouldn’t stress over ‘maybe’s’ but instead, keep my eyes on the prize.

I heard the Christmas tree lots could experience a shortage of firs, pines and spruces because of the severe drought and fires some areas of the country have endured this year. I pray all those affected by disaster will soon detect the scent of evergreen again filling the air. Courage and hope is found by keeping their eyes on the prize. 

As we hustle to buy gifts, wrap packages, bake cookies, hang ornaments and stockings preparing for the grandest of Holidays, let’s all keep our eyes on the prize. 

Have you noticed that there are a bunch of folks who partake in the celebration of Christmas that believe we should all say, “Happy Holidays” instead of Merry Christmas? What? “Happy Holidays” is a sweet sentiment, and I say it often, but not as a replacement for Merry Christmas. Just a reminder, the first five letters in Christmas is the reason for the Holiday. If I offend anyone by saying Merry Christmas, then by gosh, they will just have to purchase earplugs because until the day I die, “Merry Christmas” it is. I would much rather offend them than the Savior who I am celebrating and who saved me. Yep, I must keep my eyes on the prize.

We all get so distracted with everything from politics to candy canes, we often lose sight of the real essence of Christmas. When I think of God sending a child into the world to remind us of his love and grace, I frankly get chills. When I listen to the story of Christ’s birth, I see stars sparkling, the earth wrapped in joy and angels cascading down from heaven. “For God so loved the world” is one of the most precious sentences in the Bible. He cherished us so much he showed us through his son how we were to live and not worry or be afraid. What a gift. Our prize is with us every day, guiding us to discover peace, comfort, and hope. We become so “earthbound,” we often forget to look above, beyond and within to find the daily joy of Christmas.

The other night, I couldn’t sleep, pondering all the tasks I needed to accomplish before my family arrives for the holidays. Plus, write columns before my deadlines each week. As I lay in the bed staring at darkness, a light bulb moment occurred. In the middle of making a mental list of “to do’s,” I heard, “Lynn, keep your eyes on the prize.” I understood it was to be a title to a story before there was a story. 

You see, the prize is never far away and is always clear enough to hear and see if we just are willing to listen and open our eyes. Many times (far too many), I need to be still and experience the love of Christ, whispering, “Don’t worry, just keep your eyes focused on me. I am the gift; the prize God gave you long ago wrapped in swaddling clothes lying under the stars. I am Christmas.”

As we rush toward December 25, let’s pause for a moment, and thank God there is a Christmas to rush to.