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The Most WONDERful Time of the Year

The Most WONDERful Time of the Year

A few years back I had the amazing, awe-inspiring privilege of going to the Grand Canyon. My band and I were touring my new album, and while in Phoenix, we had the realization that we were only a few hours away from the Canyon. Since none of us had ever visited it for ourselves, we decided on a whim to make the quick detour before heading home to Texas.

As we stood around plotting our adventure, a nearby eavesdropper interrupted, “You don’t want to see the Grand Canyon. It’s not that great. It’s just a big hole in the ground that looks like a painting. Just go check out Sedona and then head home.”

I couldn’t help but wonder if we were about to drive hours out of our way just to be disappointed. In the end, we succumbed to our fear of missing out and decided to do both. The next morning, we made our way to the Grand Canyon by way of Sedona.

And we did not regret it.

As soon as we could see Sedona in the distance, we couldn’t help but stop every few seconds to take pictures. Every corner revealed a new angle of breathtaking grandeur. It didn’t matter that we were taking essentially the same picture over and over. We had to take turns driving because none of us could keep our eyes on the road.

I couldn’t bring myself to stop exclaiming, “Wow!” Could there be anywhere on earth more beautiful?

Then we came to the Canyon. I have never seen anything like it. It’s truly glorious in every way.

We walked around this huge chasm for hours trying to get a better vantage point to see its glory from another perspective and feed our sense of awe and amazement. I couldn’t wipe the grin off my face as joy overwhelmed me. It felt transcendent — like I was participating in something much bigger than me, and not about me.

Thank God I didn’t listen to THAT guy. I never regretted the extra hours we tacked on to our journey. It was just a little inconvenience for a seemingly infinite amount of awe.

A few months later, I was hanging with a friend of mine and telling him the story, and he said, “Have I ever told you about the time I went to the Grand Canyon? I got out of the car, took a quick look, turned to my wife, and said, ‘Cool. What’s for lunch?’ ”

I was absolutely floored. How on earth were our experiences so different? Did we go to the same place? I almost felt offended!

But the Grand Canyon doesn’t need my defending. It’s one of the seven natural wonders of the world for a reason. However, we sometimes miss out on even the greatest wonders not because they’re “not that great,” but because we are distracted. Or cynical. Or hurt. Or burnt out. Or entitled. Or just actually hungry.

I think we can sometimes do that with Christmas. I don’t know how that is when you consider that we are talking about GOD becoming a BABY so He can save His people and give them life forever. It’s not because the story isn’t actually that great. It’s a classic case of “it’s not you, it’s me.”

  • Maybe the wonder gets lost in the hype.

Maybe the awe gets swallowed up in exhaustion. Maybe we feel like we’ve been there, done that and just stop looking for it. Or maybe we are just looking at it all wrong. 

Rather than immersing ourselves in the wonder of God coming to be with us and letting that amazing truth captivate our imaginations and childlike sense of “WOW”, we celebrate the season like we are looking at pictures in an old album.

Like that man who said the Grand Canyon really isn’t that great or my friend who just wanted some lunch, perhaps we are settling for watching from a distance, or we’re distracted by the wrong things — like “Cool. Where’s my present?”

In my book The Art of Getting it Wrong, I throw myself under the bus quite a bit because of my own propensity for being so distracted that I miss out on the moment. Whether it’s because of my blind spots of dreaming about tomorrow or simply being too busy today, I don’t want to allow those things to rob me of the wonder and awe of this season — which can happen far too easily if we aren’t careful!

All the hustle and bustle of finding the right gift and planning the perfect meal and entertaining guests and going to parties and decorating the most aesthetically pleasing Pinterest house for the ‘Gram — it can leave you hungry, missing the Grand Canyon-sized sense of hope and happiness of Christmas because you can’t see past the metaphorical lunch you’re so fixated on.

  • We find many things in this world amazing, yet we are far too easily distracted by lesser things — and that robs of experiencing what is ACTUALLY wonderful!

My band and I wouldn’t have experienced the awe of one of the greatest wonders of the world if we hadn’t gone out of our way to do so. If we had just kept coasting comfortably toward home, we would have missed out on it  completely. But that’s how wonder often works. You have to be intentional. If you want more “WOW!” in your life, sometimes you gotta go out of your way to experience it.

Christmas is all about disruption. It disrupted darkness and gave us the light of Heaven. It disrupted the old religious “pick yourself up by your bootstraps and just do the list of rules and regulations only to realize that they’re completely impossible” ways and gave us grace. Heck, it disrupted space and time itself by putting an infinite, boundless, eternal God into the physical limitations of human flesh! Having God be subject to the laws of physics, the passage of time, the weaknesses of the human body, and death itself is pretty disruptive! If Christmas is that great, I think it’s worth a little disruption in our own lives and schedules.

Maybe today before you coast your way into your bed tonight, just sit down by the fireplace if you have one (or put a fake one on the TV), turn on the Christmas tree lights, and spend a little time thinking about how absolutely incredible it is that the infinite greatness of God would wrap Himself in the tiny form of a baby human born to a carpenter named Joseph and a teenage girl named Mary in the humble barn of a little town called Bethlehem — all to show how much He loves you and make sure you could live forever with Him in Heaven! That’ll blow your mind way more than a million Grand Canyons combined.

Written for Devotionals Daily by Stephen Miller, author of The Art of Getting It Wrong.

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Your Turn

Let’s get intentional and turn up the wonder this Advent! We need to be willing to be disrupted. But, isn’t the wonder of Jesus so worth it? ~ Devotionals Daily