The Beauty of Christmas Through a Child’s Eyes

IMG_9572On weekdays, around 5: 40PM, I drive down to the ferry to pick up my wife and then we both travel together to pick up our daughter, Bella, from her preschool. On our way back home, Bella usually talks up a storm and rare is the day when she doesn’t sing out a nursery rhyme that she had just learned in school. However, this December is extra special. As we drive home, as usual, she would sing or talk to us about several important issues in her little two-year-old world. However, whenever she would pass a house that is decorated with lights or spots a Christmas tree, she would stop chattering and shout out, “Look! Christmas!” She would do this every time. Sometimes she would shout, “Pretty!” or “Oh, that’s nice!”

On one particular drive home, we passed a large Nativity scene in front of a building close to the road. It was decorated with lights and the figures themselves were lit up. When Bella saw this for the first time, she quieted down and said softly, “Beautiful!” I responded by telling her it was indeed beautiful.

In thinking this over, my daughter has (once again) taught me something. In our lives, we do encounter many things that either point to God or reflect something wonderful about Him, and we exclaim how wonderful it is, or that it reminds us of Jesus. That’s the amazing thing about beauty: it reminds us of something greater. Paul agrees with this when he said:

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse (Romans 1:20).

In a novel that I am currently writing, two of the main characters (Aldwin and Tymon) were discussing the issue of beauty. When Aldwin asked Tymon why did his country try to bring about beauty in everything it created, from architecture to the appearance of their technological hardware, Tymon responded by saying this:

“The thing about beauty is that it is not something you can codify, or make some mathematical formula for it, or even properly define it, no matter how eloquent your description. It has to be seen, or even felt, to be discovered…Yet, when you see beauty, when you see something that is undeniably beautiful, you have a sense that this beauty is revealing a shadowy reflection of something more real than this world has to offer. In many ways, beauty gives us a glimpse of divinity.”

This Christmas let us not forget Christ Himself. With all the lights, the Christmas trees and festivities, we have shadowy glimpses of the beauty that is Jesus. But take the time to encounter Him personally. Let us react just as my daughter did when she saw the Nativity scene. May we humble and quiet ourselves in the sight of Christ, and like Bella, say softly to the King… “Beautiful!”

Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris’n with healing in His wings

Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark!The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

~from the hymn, “Hark! The herald Angels Sing”

What My Daughter Taught Me About Prayer

daddy & bella 2My two-year-old daughter, Ruth Ysabella (whom we affectionately call Bella for short), has been sick for a couple of days with a fever. The fluctuations between warm and cool weather these past few days have been a perfect season for diseases to spread. Add in a preschool with little two to three year old viral incubators running about (otherwise known as children) and you have the perfect hot zone.

One evening, I was in the living room attempting to catch up a project for church that I needed to present to the elders board. My daughter was with my wife in bed, who was attempting to get her to sleep. However, Bella was in no mood to sleep. My wife, on the other hand, succumbed to sleep’s hazy embrace, leaving Bella to her own devices.

As I typed away on my laptop, I noticed the door handle to the closed bedroom door was jiggling back and forth. Someone was trying to open it but without any success. And there was only one person in our family who would have trouble opening a door: a three-foot princess called Bella!

I smiled and rose from the table to open the door. When I did, my beautiful daughter stood there in her pajamas looking up at me with those deep brown soulful eyes. Smiling, I told her that she needed to be in bed since she wasn’t feeling well. What she said to me, for the first time ever, melted my heart: “I wanted to be with you, Daddy.” I picked her up and she hugged my neck and placed her head on my shoulder, kissing it every now and then. I enjoyed being with her every second after that.

I needed this interaction with my daughter. Not because I am starved for her affection, but because it helped me to recognize my interactions with my heavenly Father. Many times I struggle in prayer to God because, deep down inside, I believe that He really doesn’t want to be around me. Yes, I know the verses that say otherwise. But being transparent, that is how I feel sometimes. But Bella helped me to put things into a proper Biblical perspective.

When I consider God, He does not need a single thing from me. He is God after all. In Psalm 50:12 it says, “If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is Mine, and all it contains.” He doesn’t even need me for company; He is after all a part of the Trinity. But He actually enjoys being with me. To me, that is crazy! But it’s true nonetheless. In Isaiah 30:18 it says that “Therefore the Lord longs to be gracious to you, and therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; how blessed are all those who long for Him.”

He longs for me! He waits on high to have compassion on me! This is just seems too good to be true. But the amazing thing is that this is completely true of God. Even in John 17:3 when it says, “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent,” it conveys the idea of relationship. It doesn’t say, “that they may know about you,” but “that they may KNOW you.”

Even the verse that most people associate with evangelism, but was actually directed to a lukewarm church, shows that God wants interaction. The verse in question in Revelation 3:20 where Jesus says “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” In Middle Eastern culture, to dine with someone was considered an intimate affair; sharing a meal with someone meant close interaction, communication and friendship. And here is Jesus saying that this is what He is looking for in us His Church – a close relationship; face to face interaction (like Moses in the Old Testament).

So maybe I will finally give up in this deep-seated apprehension of coming to God. It is time for me to approach God, jiggle the handle of prayer, and when the door opens, I will look up with the same child-like faith that my Bella had with me, and say simply to my Abba, my holy Father in heaven, “I wanted to be with you, Daddy.”