Do you have a checklist of all the things you need to get done? I keep all my to-do’s in my planner and for the past month, every single day’s list has been completely full. I feel like I haven’t had a second to stop, take a breath, and admire this time of year until this week. This is supposed to be the time of year where we prepare our hearts (not our houses) for Jesus’ coming. We are supposed to be intentional and slow down and take time to prepare for the coming of Christ. But I’ll admit, I have been too busy for Jesus.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Jesus has been part of some of these activities I’ve written in my planner… plan the Advent Bible study lesson, help with the children’s play at church, volunteer at the Valley Mission… but have I really let him be present? Have I been fully present? I realize now looking back on everything I’ve been so busy doing, most of the time, I was just breezing through from one activity to another in a daze so I could check it off of my to-do list. I rarely stopped to slow down and just be present. There’s a difference between just being somewhere and truly being present. I showed up, I did my part, and I left. Did I take time to question how anyone was really doing? Or take time to tell them my story and ask them theirs? No and no. And did anyone do the same for me? Nope.
I think our world has gotten caught up in the chaos of Christmas. We have fallen in love with being busy, and in this busyness, we have missed Jesus. The one who came and broke the 400 year silence. Do you really think he’s going to show up when we are flying around from one Christmas activity to another like this? We sing the words: Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright,” but do we live like that? I don’t. Even when I have my daily time with God, I can rarely quiet my thoughts about what I need to get done, and I can’t expect to hear him if I can’t even be quiet and still and give him a chance to speak. And then I wonder why I feel drained at the end of the day when I do all these things for God. This Bible verse has the answer: “This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.”” -Isaiah 30:15 God’s salvation and strength come only through rest and quietness, and I have rejected that so many times. He does freely give to all who ask, but we have to take time to be still and wait for an answer.
So, my hope is that you would learn something from my over-committed self, and stop and be still this Christmas. As soon as we got done with school this past Thursday, I could feel a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. Everything that had seemed so urgent and necessary to get done suddenly got pushed to the background, and I was able to be present. I went downtown and walked around and went to the preschool program at our church that night with some friends from Nicaragua. I sat around the table catching up with them until all the tables and chairs around us had been cleaned up and we were some of the last ones there. And it felt SO GOOD. I had nowhere to rush off to and nothing else that absolutely had to be done that night. I hadn’t felt that relaxed in a long time. The next day, I had a lot to do, but that night I went to my FCA leader’s house, and we just hung out, and even sang a Christmas song. Again, I felt like I was more present than I had been this whole semester. I felt Jesus’ presence in their home and in my heart as well, as we laughed and played board games together. I think I finally found Jesus hidden in the middle of this increasingly superficial season, and I am not letting go.
“Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” – Psalm 46:10
Will you pray with me?
Heavenly Father, thank you so much for giving us your son. Please help us to find him in this crazy busy season of our lives when it seems we can never get everything checked off of our to-do list. Help us to be still and quiet, and give us strength and salvation so that we can really be present in everything we do. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.