That’s me as a child in the top left. My older brother (on the right) and I were often mistaken for twins.We are in the Advent Season, and the word “anticipation” seems like an appropriate word to describe how I feel about the approach of Christmas.
Saints of old, by faith, anticipated the coming of Christ on that first Christmas. Simeon, for example, rested on the promise God had made him that he would not see death until he had gazed into the eyes of his savior (Luke 2:25-32).
As a child, my parents required that my siblings and I complete two things before we could officially start the celebrations on Christmas morn. We had to feed and water our horses, and then we had to eat our entire breakfast. We did horse chores and ate breakfast every day, so it shouldn’t have been that big a deal for us to complete these activities on Christmas morning, but the anticipation for Christmas celebrations and gift-giving was at such a high note on Christmas mornings that both of these tasks seemed overwhelming.
When my older brother was 13 and I was 12 we hatched a brilliant plan. We decided to wake up super early on Christmas morning, feed the horses, and then sneak back into bed for more sleep. We laughed with delight at the thought of being able to say triumphantly to our parents “We’ve already fed the horses” in response to their demands that we complete our chores before opening presents.
We set our alarm for 3:00AM.
When it beeped we donned our winter clothes and snuck out of the house undetected. We breathed in the clean, cold Michigan air as we made tracks in the snow all the way down to the horse barn. We giggled with anticipation. There was a lightness to our steps and to the work as well as we broke the ice out of the buckets, refilled them with fresh water in the pump house, and then stuffed each horse’s trough with hay and oats.
In less than thirty minutes we were walking back up to the house. Our spirits were high. We were on course to pull off our biggest Christmas victory until, to our horrors, we discovered that we had locked ourselves out of the house!
We thought about going back to the barn – to try to get some sleep in the hay loft. We debated this option for another thirty minutes, but with temperatures well below freezing we decided in the end to ring the doorbell.
Our father woke to the sound of the doorbell. He was at the front door in a flash, and when we identified ourselves he opened the door, let us in, and then read us the riot act.
We sabotaged our grand plan and, I am sure, caused my father undue stress. In the end, though, we all had a good laugh about it.
I am reminded each Christmas of this silly story. It remains a wonderful memory of my own Christmas anticipation. Years have passed since that Christmas morning. I am now a father of five and a grandfather as well.
Even though I am much older, celebrating Christmas hasn’t gotten older.
Remembering this story also makes me thankful that the Christmas plan God hatched before the foundations of the world was perfect and perfectly executed. It might appear as if things didn’t go as planned when we recall that there was no room in the inn, Mary’s fiancee almost put her away privately, King Herod ordered that all Bethlehem boys under the age of two be put to death, and Jesus and his parents had to flee to Egypt. While the nativity story may seem chaotic and full of mistakes, God was not surprised, and many of these events were foretold in ancient prophecies.
There were no locked doors in God’s Christmas plan!
According to God’s plan, Jesus made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross (Philippians 2).
Thankfully, Jesus’s time on earth didn’t end with His death on a cross either. Instead, he defeated death and, through the power of God, was resurrected. Because He lives we can know the same abundant and everlasting life by putting our trust in Him.
Praise God for His perfect plan!