We don’t simply decorate our house for Christmas; we do a Christmas Load In. It’s as though every Elf on the Shelf comes to a pre-season-kickoff-convention and collectively loses their minds partying. Let’s call it the 6 Days of Chaos at Our Rich Retreat. Sometimes as I empty the boxes, I learn a lesson.
Must … not … accept … empty …
Around Day 4, I pulled out an ornament-holding tree that stands about two-feet tall. I decided I would adorn it with a set of dinky-sized, metallic-red bulbs. Due to the way I’d used these itty-bitty ornaments in past years, the little guys were in various totes around the house. Digging through dozens of boxes, I came up with almost enough ornaments to fill the little tree, but I was one short. It became a game-stopping quest to find this missing one-inch bulb. To understand the scope of my quest, check out the number of totes we have for Christmas (… and check your judgment; I know I’m crazy).
Empty Spaces are Meaningful Spaces
I eventually had to admit defeat; I couldn’t find that last bulb. My decorator-elf-self started thinking about unearthing another set of small ornaments to alternate and fill the tree. In the next moment, however, the Holy Spirit gave me a better idea: Leave that spot empty because it’s a picture of so many things.
- The lost. As diligently as I’d searched for that missing little bauble, God is searching for those who currently are rejecting His offer of love and grace. Going past that tree this season, I’ve been reminded to pray for the lost. I pray for some by name. I also pray that my eyes are open to seeing how I can reflect God to those I meet … maybe it’s an opportunity to point a lost soul to Him.
- Those who feel left out. Many come to church but don’t feel included. They look around and see all the “matching ornaments” and don’t feel like they belong. Because they feel different, they drift away and leave an empty spot. When we’re at church, we need to look up and around. Let’s break away from our friend groups when we see someone alone. It could be the difference between those folks feeling the joy of being visible and connected or them leaving feeling empty.
- The missing people in our lives. I lost it last night looking at pictures of my mom holding my kids when they were little … she’s been gone for 10 Christmases. The missing ornament on that tree reminds me to pray for those who are also navigating the holidays with those empty spots on the trees of their hearts.
- Seasonal emptiness. The holidays can usher in so many disappointments that leave many feeling hollow. Again, let’s keep our eyes open for those who need encouragement through a kind word, an extra hug or an invitation to spend time together.
Emptiness Leads to Holiness
That spot on my tree is empty for a reason. Only one thing can fill it – prayer. I pray expectantly – not only that God would work in others, but that He will work through me.
Out of the chaos of decoration boxes came an invitation to holiness. Out of the manger in Bethlehem came the One who can fill our emptiness with His holiness. May any emptiness in our lives lead all of us to more holiness this Christmas.