Christmas becomes a more joyful season for me with each passing year. It was at Christmas time many years ago that I read this book, The Purpose of Christmas by Rick Warren, and accepted Jesus into my heart as my Lord and Savior.
I wish I could remember exactly what year this happened. My mom used to put this book out on our coffee table with a few other childhood Christmas books that we like to re-read each holiday season has family tradition. It was in good company with The Night Before Christmas and Santa Mouse. I first noticed it mixed in with the childhood books one Christmas when I was home from school, so I picked it up and read it over. But that wasn’t my Christmas.
I read it at least one, if not two, more times when it would appear during the Christmas season. I can remember thinking the first few times I read the book that if it moved me, I would pray the prayer at the end of the book and accept the gift of God.
I used to tell myself that at sermons, too. In all the Baptist church sermons I’ve ever been to in my life, there has been a call to action at the end which invites you to accept Jesus into your heart if you haven’t done so yet. Those usually make me squirm in my seat and stifle back tears because I felt like I should respond, but I wouldn’t let myself respond, out of control or fear or embarrassment or who knows what else.
I think that was part of the power and the beauty of this book for me. When I read it again, and when I was finally ready for it to touch my life, I felt the call to respond. I felt a stirring deep inside of me that let me know now it was time.
“Regardless of your background, religion, problems or circumstances, Christmas really is the best news you could get. Beneath all the visible sights and sounds of Christmas are some simple yet profound truths that can transform your life for the better here on earth and for forever in eternity. Right now there’s nothing more important for you to understand than the implications of Christmas for your life.” – The Purpose of Christmas by Rick Warren
I remember that night. It had been a nice relaxing day, the house was decorated to the nines, and I was feeling happy. I was on Christmas break from school and I was home home for the holidays in my bed in my childhood home. Everyone had gone to sleep and I was awake re-reading The Purpose of Christmas. This time through, it felt so natural to finish reading and pray the Christmas Prayer at the end.
The book recommended that you customize your own prayer as well, which I did and based it upon the “Our Father” prayer. I must have written it down, but I don’t remember doing the writing, only memorizing it. I have prayed my personalized prayer every night since as I’ve gone to sleep.
My relationship with God has become deeper and richer with each passing day, but it feels especially meaningful to me at Christmas. I see more beauty, feel more gratitude and connect to more peace this time of year than any other.
That’s why I’ve chosen this time of year to take the leap of faith in beginning to share my story, my testimony. I feel a stirring deep inside that says now it’s time.
Just as each story I’ve heard from the lives of other believers has enriched my life through understanding and relation, I hope that my story will do the same for you. I offer it in the spirit of giving that makes this time of year so wonderful.