‘But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.’ Luke 2:19
Just recently, Kristina shared with me that this was the first year that we didn’t get our oldest child any toys for Christmas. Instead, our oldest will receive gifts true to her age and maturity. She still plays with her toys, but who knows for how much longer she will continue to do so? One day she will play with her toys for the last time, and she will replace those toys with other things more fitting to her growth and development within adolescence. The thought of this broke my heart, instantly, and I told Kristina immediately, ‘Time is a thief.’ But after some reflection, I have a different thought, ‘Time is a gift.’
The Christmas season always reminds me that time waits for no one, and if we’re not mindful of the time, we can let it steal away precious moments. What are these moments? It’s the tiny moments of every day, that seem insignificant and mundane, that matter the most, especially to a child. Now I know that not everyone reading this will have children, and I’ll address this concern a bit later. For now, though, I think these tiny moments that make up our day are precisely the ones that make time (days, months, years) a gift to us. Why does Christmas remind me that time never slows and that tiny moments are the most significant?
Well, the Christmas season usually brings about certain rituals that we do every year to help make the season seem bright and merry. Some of us may go look at Christmas lights and yard décor, or perhaps others go to a Christmas market. Some of us wait until Dec. 1st to set up the Christmas tree, while others set it up much earlier. There are certain things that happen chronologically that probably make us feel like Christmas. We didn’t just create these habits overnight. We created them over time. These small moments are probably our way to transport us back to a very peaceful and happier time in our lives. We may be trying to ‘go back’ to something familiar because it feels good, and our attempts today become a way to recover what seems to be lost due to time waiting for no one. Time truly is a gift. The small things we do today make some sort of an impression upon those near and dear to us, and this is where time feels like a thief sometimes.
Our attempt to recover that which is lost can be the result of misperceiving the current moment. I get it, I really do. More than anyone, I want to transport to past Christmases just to feel the sense of provision, peace, and comfort, but I can’t. You can’t either. We have today, and that’s really about it. So, if we just have today, then doesn’t that reveal how precious of a gift time really is to us? When we misperceive the present moment, it often looks like we’re so focused on unknown future that we feel frustrated because we have not achieved a sense of constant peace. The future, somehow, tries to steal us away, leading only to fear and worry, while the past tries to remind us of our age, only leading to regret and sorrow. When we view time as a gift, we start to see what really matters, and it probably isn’t things that matter: it’s people.
This text from the Gospel of Luke has always taken a special place in my heart during the Advent and Christmas season. It feels like Mary is very in tune with the present moment, that she seems to be capturing everything happening, whether or not she understands it, within her heart. She stores and treasures these moments as though she plans to open them again one day. I think she is really perceiving that time is a gift, and not a thief. Not that she will try to go back to this moment in Luke 2:19, because I’m sure she did at times, but I think she realizes in this small moment how big it really is. She probably forgot the details of the moment, but I doubt she forgot how she felt. It’s these moments that we carry with us into the future, but it’s understanding that time really is a gift that helps decipher what and who is most important to us.
If there is something in our lives that try to steal us away from good company, such as our family and friends, and it brings about a sense of unhealthy fear and worry, then is it really that important? What is creating tension in you today? Perhaps it’s an unfulfilled dream, or a life-sucking career, or an unresolved conflict with friends or family. Maybe it’s simply feeling let down, lonely, or scared. While I don’t think anyone should simply ignore these feelings, I also don’t want anyone to let these feelings, or emotions, completely hold you hostage to the past or the future. Time is a gift, remember?
Don’t let the time slip by and wonder ‘what could be.’ Look around you, especially to those who are close to you, and know that time spent with someone you love is more important than anything else in this world. And if you are one of the people without children, a spouse, or maybe even family, I believe there is someone who cares and loves you very much.
His name is Jesus, and his Church in the world will exhibit such a love. Don’t let time steal away from you. Let time be a gift to you.
I do hope and pray you have a most wonderful Christmas. If you need help in finding a local church who will love you, or if you ever need prayer, then please contact me. I’ll find you a church, no matter where you are in the world, and I’ll pray for you, wherever you may be in life.