"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly." John 10:10(NAS)
My childhood Christmases were ones of material abundance. All the latest toys and games could be found under the ornately decorated tree. Our house was filled with Christmas music and the entire family was in the Christmas spirit. We had all our favorite cookies, snacks and candy that would keep us on a sugar high as we played with all our wonderful gifts late into the night. As a young married adult, I also experienced the material abundance of Christmas. We had parties in elegantly decorated homes with our friends and spent lavishly on gifts. Yes, many Christmases of my past were overflowing with material abundance.
One Christmas in particular, however, had no such worldly pleasures. Such extravagant Christmases of my past had no place inside the prison walls where I would spend that Christmas. In fact, it was easy to forget that it was Christmas. There was no tree, mistletoe or other festive decorations adorning the concrete walls inside the prison dorm. None of my fellow inmates were in the spirit of Christmas either. The day would come and go like any other day.
However, it was this Christmas in prison - spent without family, friends, gifts and delicious meals - where I discovered the real meaning of Christmas. I had already received the greatest gift ever given when I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior in a dark, lonely prison cell. I now understood that Christmas was not about all the extravagance we stress over every year. Christmas is about the ultimate gift delivered to each of us in the form of a helpless baby. That baby, God's only son, who would grow up and die for me so that I might have abundant life.
Funny word - abundant - it is not about all the things we can accumulate in this life. It is about the gift that has already been given to us and the relationships we build as we continually share that gift with others. How many people will we cross paths with this Christmas who do not know of the true abundance they have in Jesus Christ? How many people are seeking fulfillment in material things when all they need can be found in Christ? Let's all take time this season to share with another person the abundance we have in the greatest gift ever given.