I was driving in the car with my Mom the other night and she said something that really stopped me in my tracks.  She was sharing about a recent talk she attended where the speaker challenged the audience to see those around them, not just look at them.

This really resonated with me because the past few weeks I’ve felt the Lord challenge me to look beyond myself.

It amazes me how this time of year I quickly turn my head from looking out to looking in.  My thoughts and calendar become consumed with tasks to complete that surround my friends, my family, and our traditions.  Can you relate?

These seasonal tasks go on top of our already full schedules of work, classes, parenting, studying for exams, cleaning the house, preparing for that presentation, taking out the dog, doing homework, and remembering to make dinner.

But we have to juggle it all, right?  Because if we don’t buy the gifts, decorate the tree, frost the cookies, hang the stockings, hide the elf, and make the egg nog from scratch (does anyone do this!?) Christmas will be ruined.  

As my head starts to spin I can’t help but think back to the very first Christmas.  God gave us the gift of His Son in the form of a baby.  He was born to a young girl named Mary who was betrothed to a man named Joseph.  They couldn’t find a single room, so Mary gave birth in a stable.

After 400 years of God being silent to His people, He chooses Jesus to be born in the tiny town of Bethlehem, to fulfill the scriptures.  And who were the first people to hear of this great news?  The shepherds of course.  A great multitude of angels appeared to them and they were soon on their way to worship the King of Kings.

So that’s the scene.  A young mother and father, in a dirty stable, surrounded by shepherds, and a tiny baby, lying in a manger…which was most likely the feed trough for the animals.

No one was prepared for the long awaited Savior to come into the world that way.  No one could have predicted that.  But nothing was a mistake.  And nothing would ever be the same again. 

That was the very first Christmas.  God giving us the greatest gift of all.  And while many of us can recall the day or time we first received the gift of Jesus into our hearts, first trusted Him to forgive our sins and surrendered our lives to Him, many of us have pushed that gift to the side a little bit.

So many other things and people have taken priority in our hearts, at least for these busy December days.

But what if, what if we pulled that gift of Jesus back to the center?  What if we filtered all of our tasks and commitments through that gift?  What if we looked at our lists and calendars and prayerfully approached them with an open heart?  A heart that is willing to let go of a Pinterest worthy Christmas, a heart that says no to a few commitments to make space for seeing.

Remember that conversation I had with my Mom about seeing people, and not just looking at them?  Don’t you think that’s how God looked at Mary and Joseph?  And don’t you think that’s how He looked at the shepherds?  And don’t you think that’s how He looks at you and me?  All undeserving of His gift of Jesus, but because He sees us, and our deep need for Him, He gave this gift freely.  And that’s just it.  Jesus is a gift, and all we have to do is receive Him.

That’s what Christmas is all about.  Our Savior coming to earth as a baby to live the life we could never live and to eventually die the death we all deserve, and then to rise from the grave, defeating death.

My prayer and hope for us all this Christmas is that we bring the gift of Jesus back to the center of our celebrations and that we ask the Lord to help us see others, not just look at them.  Whether we are checking out at the store, sitting in traffic, welcoming guests into our home or working in the office, I pray that God helps us to see others the way He sees them. Together, let’s bring His light and peace into this busy and distracted world.

And when asked why we are so peaceful this time of year, let’s share the gift of Jesus that God gave us all those years ago in Bethlehem.  A God who saw us in our brokenness, gave us His Son, and through Him alone, we are healed.

Merry Christmas!