Inside Out 298: A Better December

12.10.13 | Martha Manikas-Foster

By this time in December, I’m guessing that your schedule—and maybe your emotions—have gotten out of control at least once. I understand. We know that the coming celebration is about Jesus, but we’ve got some pretty specific expectations about what that will look and feel like.

“There is the great pressure—and it’s not all bad—to try to shake a snow-globe Christmas out of every December, you know?” says today’s Inside Out guest Steven Estes. “Visions of Norman Rockwell swimming in our heads, or pictures of Currier and Ives that we imagine settling down in our living room at yuletide: family bliss. And you want it so badly. It only comes once a year.”

Steven knows that what goes into our picture of how Christmas “should be” or “has always been” are the same ingredients that—when missing—can send us into a tailspin.

“When something goes wrong, somebody gets a call last minute and has to work on Christmas Day, or the turkey gets burnt . . . people, sometimes, they just almost collapse out of sadness, that ‘Here are few moments when we’re finally all together, half the family’s flown in from all around the country, and the sand is slipping though my fingers and I can’t grab it.’”

Steven has just released a new book, A Better December, where he applies the wisdom of King Solomon to the celebration of Christmas.

“It really struck me when Solomon said, ‘You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail,’” he says. “And I thought, ‘My goodness, if that doesn’t speak to Christmas!’ You plan and plan, and you should, and it’s good, and many times it goes well. But He has a purpose bigger than that 24 hours, or even that whole week when your kids are home.”

Steve’s got the audacity to say that God’s got bigger plans for us than orchestrating our vision of “the perfect Christmas.” We feel contented—we feel fulfilled—when we’re nestled in a warm house, surrounded by the people we love—often eating food that’s off limits the other eleven months of the year. But God may not have included gift wrapping and sparkling garland in His deeper purpose for each of us.

“His purpose has to do with the very long look, the eternal look,” Steven says in our interview. “He’s often doing things in our hearts by causing us to remember who He is, what it’s all about, and that He can meet the needs that we feel somebody else has to meet. And those things will stay with us through eternity, even though this particular Christmas may be a little disappointing.”

Click above (on the Listen or Download icon) to hear our about 13-minute conversation about wisdom, expectations, and how often we come face to face with our desperate need for the God-Man Jesus just as we are preparing to celebrate His coming to earth at Christmas.

You can also learn more about Steven Estes and his book, “A Better December.”

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Inside Out airs Wednesdays at 12:20pm EST during the Family Life Noon Report.

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