I love this time of year! Especially here in Ohio, where the weather is appropriately chilly. In California, it was more difficult to get into the Christmas spirit, as the temperature was typically over 60° and fall never even happened. For my family, Christmas really begins with Thanksgiving. Yes, we start decorating even before the turkey has gone into the oven. The boxes of decorations come out of the basement early, and we get our tree as soon after Thanksgiving as possible. I don’t view this as short-changing Thanksgiving or rushing to get started on Christmas. Thanksgiving is the logical place to start when we think of Christmas. We should be overwhelmed with thankfulness when we think of our Lord and Savior coming to this earth as a little baby, growing into a man and taking the sins of the world on His shoulders, so that we may be restored in our relationship with God and enjoy eternal life with Him.
God has been impressing on my heart lately the importance of thankfulness. It is a lifestyle, not just an event at the end of November. We all know that life brings a series of challenges and trials, but through those difficulties we often experience our greatest growth in our relationship with God. However, as Jesus speaks in Matthew 7:9 – 11, we serve a God who delights in blessing us. “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!” God is not our personal genie, giving us whatever we ask for, but He does delight in giving us good gifts. I am convinced that God would much prefer to see us grow through His blessings rather than by His leading us through our struggles. Thankfully, we serve a God who is there in the midst of hardship, but who is also there in the midst of our blessings.
All too often, we focus only on the struggles or on what we lack, rather than being thankful for the blessings and our abundance. If we develop an attitude of thankfulness, we will be able to live a much more contented life. Whether we have little or plenty, we have more joy if we are thankful. But being thankful is more important than merely seeking our own satisfaction. When we have a habit of thankfulness, we see God at work more clearly. We draw nearer to Him through our blessings as well as through our struggles. If we want to maximize every day for Christ, we need to be thankful.
So, let me wish you a very Merry and Thankful Christmas. As we look forward to the New Year, please consider all that our Savior has done for us, and all that He continues to do. Let’s enter into 2010 with an attitude of thankfulness and praise for our Heavenly Father.
Jonathan Burton, Ed.D.
Open Door Christian Schools