With a twinkle in his eye and a grin on his face, my youngest son excitedly pleaded with me to come to his room. “It’s decorated for Christmas!,” he exclaimed. He had been busily working on something for the 10 minutes prior, but like the distracted and multi-tasking Mom I am, I had not stopped to see what he was doing.

As I walked into his room, he proudly pointed at the top of his dresser. “Look, it’s for Christmas!,” he proclaimed. His dresser had been transformed by Christmas decorations, and it looked surprisingly good! I then realized that his decorations looked awfully familiar. He had carefully removed each piece from the living room bookshelf and painstakingly placed each one on the top of his dresser.

I looked at his face, and the pride was so evident. He had done his best to decorate. This had been his grand idea, and he had pulled it off. “Wasn’t I so happy?,” he seemed to be asking. How would I respond?

“It looks great, buddy! You did such a good job,” I told him.

Little did I know, this was the only encouragement he needed to continue his decorating escapades. The following day, as I unloaded groceries from our van, he disappeared again. Before I had finished unpacking groceries, he ran into the kitchen to find me. “Mom, come to my room,” he said and grabbed my hand. “What is it?,” I asked, trying to finish in the kitchen. “Come see my Christmas decorations,” he insisted.

I followed him down the hall and into his room, where he excitedly pointed to his dresser. There, next to the decorations he had previously taken from the living room, he had placed two more Christmas knick-knacks that he had confiscated from the entryway. These decorations had been hanging higher up on the wall, and I wondered how he had reached them.

“Um, those things are mine. I want you to leave those where I had them,” I gently responded. ” You need to ask before you take other people’s things.”

Crestfallen, he begged me to leave his new-found treasures. “I want them in my room!,” he insisted. I responded, “No those are my things, but I will give you something else you can put up in your room.” Easily persuaded, he wanted to see what else I had. I pulled a Christmas card off the counter and told him he could hang it up in his room. With his new treasure, he ran off happily to find the tape.

Within minutes, he was back in the kitchen stuffing paper into the garbage can. “What are you putting in the trash?,” I asked. As I got closer, I could see with dismay that, in order to hang up his card, he had taken down a poster his older brother had hung in the room they share. Before asking anyone, he had crumpled it up and stuffed it in the trash.

Losing my patience, and feeling sympathy for my older son, I explained that he could not take other people’s things. I told him that, because he shared a room, he had to ask his older brother before taking his older brother’s things down. At this point, feeling ashamed, my little guy burst into tears. As I hugged and rocked him, he told me that he just wanted everything in his room for Christmas.

Having four boys means that I find some interesting decorations in our home…

There’s a lesson here for all of us. Christmas is a time to celebrate our Savior, Emmanuel. He came to save us. All of us. There is enough of Him to share. Yet, like my son, we often find ourselves trying to hoard resources to ourselves at Christmas.

My son wanted to keep all of the decorations for himself, enjoying his own private Christmas. I have found myself feeling less than generous this month as well, with both my time and my finances. The more I feel overextended, the more I draw inward, finding myself guarding my time and resources. My guess is we can all relate to some aspect of this story.

The last two Advent candles symbolize joy and love. Jesus coming to save humanity is the manifestation of both joy and love. He came as an infant and grew up with the poor. He fashioned wood with his hands. He walked dusty roads and desert places in sandals. He had dirty feet and worn hands. He formed the universe with His words, yet had the patience to carefully disciple twelve ragamuffin men for 3 years. He did not keep his joy, love, or resources to himself. Not even his own life. There was and still is enough of Him to share.

Now, I am the first to preach boundaries, because all of us have limited time and resources to give. We certainly cannot give what we don’t have. However, as believers, we’ve been given a Messiah who loves in a way that multiplies and never runs out. In I John we are reminded that as an outpouring of the love He’s shown to us, we will love others. What could celebrating the love and joy of our Savior look like for you this Christmas?

Pause: Take a moment to rest and still your mind. Listen to and meditate on the song, We are the Reason, by Avalon. What are your reflections as you think about Christ’s love for you?

Renew: In what ways have you found yourself guarding your time and resources or overextending yourself this Advent season? Spend some time reflecting on what you want to prioritize this week.

Next: Think of one way you can show love to someone in your life this week and intentionally look for moments of joy.

May you experience the love and joy of our Savior.

Pause, Renew, Next!