by Candy Arrington @CandyArrington
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10 ESV
All was in readiness. Outside, luminaries flickered on the curb. Inside, polished furniture gleamed, a fire crackled on the hearth, strains of Handel’s Messiah filled the house, candles glowed, and mouthwatering aromas wafted from the kitchen. The presents were wrapped, the Christmas china in place, the relatives on the way. Everything was perfect, except for one thing.
I was in a rotten mood. My sour attitude had been building all day like dark thunderclouds on the horizon and now threatened to storm all over the festivities. I was being a grump at the least, and at most, closely impersonating the Grinch.
Circumstances earlier in the day combined to fuel my mood, culminating with a last- minute request to purchase a gift for a family member to give. As I drove around in the cold pouring rain, dashing in and out of crowded stores without finding the requested item, I fumed. Why didn’t she ask me to do this weeks ago? I’m suffering because of her procrastination!
I arrived home hours later to find the children lounging all over recently straightened sofas, pillows strewn across the floor. Their chores remained undone. My husband had gone on some secret Christmas Eve gift-purchasing mission, failing to do the one job I requested of him before leaving. His foray was probably for my benefit, but by this point I didn’t care. As I barked orders to reluctant children, I knew I was being unnecessarily gruff. When my husband returned, all smiles and excitement, I greeted him with a sullen look and a cold shoulder.
Now, I attempted to plaster a polite hostess smile on my face as the relatives arrived. I looked nice and managed warm greetings, but inside, my spirit was anything but right. Following our tradition of having a birthday party for Jesus, we gathered around the piano and sang carols. I heard the words of each song in my heart as my husband played the piano, our beautiful daughter played the violin, and our handsome son sawed away at the cello. Precious grandmothers and great-aunts sang in beautiful harmony.
A lump formed in my throat and tears stung my eyes. What is the matter with me? I am so blessed, but I’ve chosen to allow a negative, ungrateful spirit to overwhelm me on Christmas Eve.
During the reading of the story of Jesus’ birth from Luke 2, I silently asked God to forgive me for my attitude. I thanked Him for home, family, traditions, and most of all, for the precious gift of his son, Jesus. As we circled around a fluffy white confection of a birthday cake and sang “Happy Birthday, Dear Jesus,” I whispered, “And renew a right spirit within me.”
King David wrote Psalm 51 after the prophet Nathan confronted him about his sin. Not only had David committed adultery, he had arranged for Bathsheba’s husband to be put forward in battle, knowing it would ensure his death. Until Nathan confronted him, David ignored his sin. David’s plea for God to cleanse him from his transgressions and create a clean heart within him demonstrates humility and repentance.
All too often we compartmentalize sin and allow it to hamper our relationship with God. Is there something festering within your heart that is stealing your joy today? Search your heart for any sin that you’ve been ignoring. Come clean with God and ask him to restore a right spirit within you. It could make this Christmas Eve especially bright.
About the author: Candy Arrington has written hundreds of articles and devotionals, often on tough topics. Her books include AFTERSHOCK: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B & H) and When Your Aging Parent Needs Care: Practical Help for This Season of Life (Harvest House). Candy is a native South Carolinian, who gains writing inspiration from historic architecture, vintage photographs, nature, and the application of Biblical principles to everyday life. Learn more about Candy at www.CandyArrington.com, where you can also read her blog, Forward Motion: Moving Beyond What Holds You Back.
Candy’s book, When Your Aging Parent Needs Care, is a help to those who face the special effort of caring for a parent. It provides support and direction to enable the caregiver to be spiritually, physically, and emotionally prepared for the day to day challenges they face.
Join the conversation: Are you struggling to have a happy heart this Christmas season?