This is the time of the year when I feel as though I am getting ready for the next Olympic Games “Carrying the most bags from the car to the house” competitions. Yes, I am one of those guys who feel that needing to make two trips is a sign of weakness. It is in the holiday season that the best practice takes place. Whether from the grocery store with goodies for holiday dinners or treats, or after a run to get gifts at the mall, the opportunity to challenge myself in how much I can carry intensifies as Christmas draws near.

It reminds me of a story that I have remembered, attributed to a nationally known youth minister named Les Christie. At the time of the story, Les traveled to conferences and conventions to speak and share many of his innovative ideas around the country. One day, as he returned home from just such an outing, he opened the door as his 4-year-old son was passing through the entry hallway. To explain this a little further, Les’s son was at the age where he had come to understand the concept of “Mine” very well. He recognized his toys and didn’t really want to share them very often. To help ensure that no one would use his toys, he would gather them up in his arms and carry them from room to room with him. It was when Les walked in the door and saw his son that he saw an internal battle that we all share. His son, arms wrapped around his toys so no one else could get to them, looked up at his father and smiled an incredible smile of excitement that his father was home. But then the little boy realized his conundrum. His father was home and he was excited to see him, but he had his arms filled with his toys. What could he do? Les said that he felt immense joy when after looking from his father to his toys, back and forth several times, he dropped his toys, scattering them across the floor and ran to his father, arms outstretched, to be lifted into his father’s arms and hugged.

In a season where the ads overwhelm us with their constant cry of “You need THIS!” it may be time for all of us to remember the example of a 4-year-old boy. While we race around to get the newest and freshest gadget, toys, or tech, the best step to take may be to stop, look to our Father, and drop all the things that keep from our Father’s embrace. To recognize that what we need most is not more “things” or “stuff”, but to find the joy in our Father and his most perfect gift of his Son, Jesus. “And when you draw close to God, God will draw close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and let your hearts be filled with God alone to make them pure and true to him.” – James 4:8