Christmas time. It brings memories and gives us much to look forward to. It can be a time of hope and celebration. However, it can also be a hard time, and an extremely busy time. Normally there are so many things to do that it’s hard to stop and remember what we are really celebrating. It’s easy to get wrapped up in planning, trying to find the perfect gift, or all the activities of the season, from Christmas programs to parties and holiday festivities. I don’t remember it feeling this busy when I was a child. I remember feeling anticipation: Christmas was coming, and felt like it would never arrive. I remember using an Advent calendar and counting down the days until Christmas.

Maybe, as adults, we make it too complicated. I enjoy Christmas but don’t have that same sense of anticipation. I can get caught up in the busyness of the season and all that needs to be accomplished: Presents need to be purchased, cards need to be written and sent, food needs to be bought and prepared. Then there are church events and Christmas parties. All great things, things that can be enjoyed–but sometimes, too many things.

However busy the season is, Christmastime also reminds me of Operation Christmas Child and packing a shoebox filled with simple items. A toy, a piece of clothing, soap, pencils, pens, a washcloth. All are simple things that I can take for granted. Yet the stories shared about the children who receive them remind me that sometimes it’s the simplest things can have the greatest impact. Whether it’s a box with white socks or crayons or a shirt, these simple items reminded children that God knew them. Sometimes, the items were an answer to prayer and taught them that God heard them.

As I keep busy going from place to place, this year I want to stop and remember. I want to remember that God delights in children and in childlike faith. In Mark 10:14-15, Jesus talks about how we have to become like children. Faith can be hard, yet it is also simple. I can get so busy with what is going that I forget to remember Jesus. I know his presence is truly all I need in life. I don’t need presents, or to make a good impression, or to have the perfect holiday. In truth, that can be so hard to remember. Children have a faith that we don’t always have as adults. And sometimes the gifts they give are simple but filled with love.

Perhaps what we do for God or for others doesn’t have to be anything big. I often feel
like it has to be dramatic to make a difference. Yet, that’s not always how God works. He can and does use big events, like when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead after Lazarus had been dead three days (John 11). But maybe God isn’t asking me to do any grand gestures for him.

Maybe he just wants me to be faithful in the small things that are right in front of me.

After all, Jesus’s first miracle was turning water into wine at a wedding (John 2). And Gideon was only allowed to have 300 soldiers to fight so God would get the glory (Judges 7). My faith–and what God is asking of me during this time–may be small, but it can be used for his glory.

Rachel Roen enjoys learning, traveling, and spending time with friends. She recently completed her master’s degree and is looking forward to the next adventure God has in store.