December 16, 2011

Joy To The World by Christina Felt

fantastic holiday card via The Wheatfield
As far as Christmas hymns go, Joy to the World has become one of my favorites. I can’t sing it without hearing a full choir and orchestra in my head, I can’t sing it without feeling like I’m proclaiming the greatest truths of the gospel to the world, and I can’t sing it without tearing up as my heart is full with the joy I feel knowing that my Savior HAS come and the He WILL come again. 

In the first verse of Joy to the World, one phrase that always hits me is “let every heart prepare him room.” I've thought a lot about what that means. It’s significant to me because although there were no inns with room for the Savior, we all have the opportunity to make room for Him in our hearts, always, but especially at the Christmas season. 

Several years ago I had a light-bulb moment regarding how the holiday season works together to testify of Christ- I become grateful and my heart is softened at Thanksgiving, my heart turns to my Savior at Christmas and I long to become more like Him which prepares me to make goals at the New Year to repent and improve. I then realized that I didn't want to wait until the New Year to improve (although I’m sure I’ll take stock then and set goals once again), but I wanted to give my own gift to the Savior throughout the Christmas season. I wanted to prepare my heart to have room for Him. As I have made room in my heart for Christ, I have become aware of changes I need to make so that He can have room to dwell there and be comfortable in doing so. It's been a humbling process, but one that has brought me great joy. I loved the following excerpt from these remarks by Henry B. Eyring. It's changed my perspective greatly.

"Jesus gave his gift freely, willingly to us all. He said, “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. “No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself” (John 10:17–18). I bear testimony that as we accept that gift, given through infinite sacrifice, it brings joy to the giver. Jesus taught, “I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance” (Luke 15:7).  If that warms you as it does me, you may well want to give a gift to the Savior. But he seems to have everything, doesn’t he? Well, not quite. He doesn’t have all of us with him again, forever—not yet. I hope we are touched enough by the feelings of his heart to sense how much he wants to know each of us is coming home to him. We can’t give that gift to him in one day or in one Christmas. But we could show him today that we are on the way.  If we have already done that, there is still something left to give. All around us are people he loves, and he wants to help them—through us. One of the sure signs of a person who has accepted the gift of the Savior’s atonement is a willingness to give. The process of cleansing our lives seems to make us more sensitive, more generous, more pleased to share what means so much to us. I suppose that’s why the Savior used an example of gift-giving in describing who would finally come home to him: “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: “For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: “Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. … “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matt. 25:34–36, 40).  And that, I suppose, is the nicest effect of receiving great gifts: it makes us want to give and give well. I’ve been blessed all my life by such gifts. I acknowledge that. Many of those gifts were given long ago... And so what shall we do to appreciate and to give a merry Christmas? “Freely ye have received, freely give” (Matt. 10:8). I pray that we will freely give. I pray that we will be touched by the feelings of others, that we will give without feelings of compulsion or expectation of gain, and that we will know that sacrifice is made sweet to us when we treasure the joy it brings to another heart."

This year as a family we've discussed together the gifts we want to give to our Savior this season.  We have been working hard to sacrifice and to fulfill those promises.  It has brought us closer to each other with that common goal, but more importantly it has brought us closer to Christ as we celebrate Him.  ----

Christina is a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend who loves to be inspired and is always working to become a better person.   She has been blogging since 2007, but earlier this year she changed venues.  Christina now blogs at Bee a Little Better where she shares her journey of self-improvement as well as lessons learned caring for her dad when he suffered a massive stroke days after the birth of her third child.        



Abby said...

I love it. Thanks for sharing your great thoughts!

Kendra said...

I just found your blog and think that your postings for December are fantastic! I love the idea of finding out more about Christ from those of different religious backgrounds than myself.

trisha*n said...

Just came across your blog - love it! Thanks for helping keep the real meaning of Christmas in all of our hearts!