We are smack dab in the busiest season of the year. The perpetual motion of this season seems to be a great churning spin cycle leading up to Christmas Day. I have three children and we celebrate advent each night with three different activities because we attempt to have an equal opportunity culture over here. Oh sure, it sounds all cute and cozy, but last night saw one child throwing a fit on the floor because it wasn’t her night to flip the calendar. That calendar flip can be intense. All the activities, advent, parties, traditions and gift giving are meant to build excitement and anticipation for our Lord’s day of birth, but they also create a phenomenal amount of busyness and occasional fits on the floor. Some years I just want to crash and spend a week doing absolutely NOTHING after the holidays because there was no rest or leisure in that slow build of anticipation.
The great lie at Christmas is that one needs to do all the “things” to make it meaningful and purposeful. What is it exactly that is ESSENTIAL to Christmas? In Isaiah 30:15 we hear, “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.” The only essential at Christmas is an invitation to experience our Lord’s presence; no more or less. I’ve been approaching this season as unhurried quietness and rest – even in the midst of busyness. It’s an invitation to a paradigm shift of the mind in the midst of work to invite God’s quiet rest and strength into each moment. It’s allowing for a conscious detachment from the business of the day with giving my soul and body permission to do so. It is an invitation for time to be silent in His presence. It’s experiencing the soul breathing leisure of being with God. It is an enjoyment with the company of God. Advent is an invitation from the Lord to come and experience Immanuel, God with us.
The great lie at Christmas is that one needs to do all the “things” to make it meaningful and purposeful.
Every year my kids quote Isaiah 9:6 as part of our advent. “For unto us a child is born, for unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulders. And his name shall be called, wonderful counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting father, the prince of peace.” My favorite part of this was two years ago when my daughter thought that He was the “prince of quiche” and joyfully shouted it every time. It was so good that I let her do that for a week before I finally corrected her. Better than quiche, which once gave me the worst case of food poisoning I have ever had, He is the prince of peace.
Advent is a time for coming into this marvelous God’s peaceful presence. He is a wise counselor, he is mighty, he is a father and he gives rest. Advent is a time for leisurely savoring His life among us and experiencing the enjoyment of unhurried time in His companionship, even if I only sneak five minutes of dedicated time before Him.
Are you lost with where to start? Start here:
- First sit for a couple minutes thinking of nothing else but Christ with me and me with Him. Nothing else. Banish all thoughts of what you will possibly feed the minions from the bare pantry, or which room is currently being destroyed by them. Give yourself permission to bask in his peace. Be silent before the Lord himself. You can do it.
- Take a small chunk of scripture and read it slowly. Ask God to speak and then reread. Perhaps stop on a phrase. Listen. Ponder. Meditate. Savor it. This is metaphorical chocolate and fine wine for the soul.
- If you have a thoughtful devotional reading, this might be the time to break it out, but don’t read for knowledge. Read for the enjoyment of being with Him and being able to listen to Him, as you would to a friend who is telling you a story.
- Pray. Don’t pray to get something. Pray and listen. I really want the wise counselor to speak to me, but sometimes I do all the talking. Forget perfect phrases and “right” words. Just tell him your jumble of thoughts and let Him sort them out. Don’t worry about presenting whatever is in your head in the right way or with the right emotion. Dump them out. Be messy and take off the filter. He can handle it. And then BE QUIET. Yes. Be silent again in your thoughts and let Him be your companion. This is a back and forth conversation, so be careful not to do all the talking. Rest in the peace that you have given it all to Him and that you trust him to sort out your thoughts and the events of the day. Fist pump. He’s got this.
However you choose to practice solitude with God in the middle of busyness, the intent is a leisurely rest in His companionship and peace. I truly want this season to be “Immanuel, God with me.” While the season won’t slow down, I can. I can’t promise that you will be as rested as if you were vacationing on a sunny beach in Cancun, reading your favorite Jesus Calling and One Thousand Gifts, journaling with your perfect slim point felt black pen and non-bleed Bible highlighter, but I do know that a lifeline can be found five to fifteen minutes at a time. Leisure is about quality, not quantity. Busy holiday person, that’s all you may get, but it can be enough.
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Editor’s Note: This article was adapted from Notes From the Plumb Tree and has been published with permission.
Image Credit: Stephen Brace, Creative Commons