My 10-year-old daughter went to a birthday party this weekend, and she was the only girl there without a cell phone. She really wants a phone for Christmas.
I feel for my daughter. I know it can't be easy being the only one without a phone. Nearly every child in her class has one. But she's not getting a phone for Christmas.
While clearly the majority of the world doesn't agree with us, we don't see any reason for our 10-year-old to have her own phone. She doesn't walk home from school, she never comes home to an empty house, she rarely goes places where she would not have access to a phone and she doesn't talk on our land line that often. It's an extra expense that we don't need right now, and we don't want her tied to an electronic device, texting her friends, when we can't see what's being said at the time it's being said.
Sometime in the next couple of years, we'll probably get her a phone. When she's in middle school and needs a phone to call us to come pick her up after school and goes more places without us we'll probably add another phone to our cell plan. But our daughter is going to be disappointed this Christmas.
This is really the first year we haven't fulfilled the big wish on her Christmas list. She's gotten used to waking up on Christmas morning and finding the one thing she wanted more than anything in the world under the tree. This is the first year we've had to say, "we don't think what you want is the best thing for you."
I think my daughter will get an inkling of how the Jewish people felt when God sent Jesus. You see, the Jews were living under Roman rule. They were oppressed and taxed by the Romans. They had few rights and were subject to laws in which they had no say. It had been centuries since the Jews had been their own nation.
When they read the prophecies about Jesus, they were expecting a warrior -- not a baby. They wanted someone who would save them from their current situation, someone who would overthrow the Romans. They didn't expect that when the prophecy of Isaiah 9:6 was fulfilled -- "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." -- that it would be fulfilled in Jesus.
When they heard that "the government will be on his shoulders," they thought He would rule over them. After years of exile and mistreatment, the Jews thought their Savior would finally put them in charge.
Instead, God fulfilled His prophecies with a tiny baby, born in a smelly stable. He gave all of us what we needed, not what the Jewish people wanted. His Christmas gift didn't fulfill the wishes of the Jews. No, it was much better than that. God's Christmas gift fulfilled the needs of all mankind.
Two thousand years later, we realize that God's gift of Jesus was perfect. We have forgotten the disappointment of many of the Jews. When Jesus died, it was a crushing blow to many Jews. They couldn't see the rest of God's plan.
Our kids need to know that not everyone in Jesus' time was thrilled with God's gift. They need to know that the Jews were expecting something different. And they need to know that God's plan is always perfect.
Illustrate this for your kids by putting something really practical in a box and giving it to them. Put it in a box that's the same size as something they really want. When they open the box and find socks, ask them how they feel. Remind them that they need socks. Socks will keep their feet warm. Talk about how sometimes God gives us what we need rather than what we think we want. Remind them that the Jews wanted a warrior -- someone to throw off the burden of Roman rule. God gave them Jesus who would give them eternal salvation -- not just salvation from their current situation.
Talk with your kids about how God is still giving us the things we need, rather than the things we want. His plan sometimes requires that He withhold the things we think we want because we need something different. And that different thing is always better.
A savior for the world was a much better gift than a savior from Roman rule, don't you think?
For more practical ways to get your kids focused on Jesus during the Christmas season, check out Lori's new e-book Everyday Christmas. It's available for Kindle, Nook and as a PDF file.