Every evening in December, as lie down to sleep, I notice that I am more exhausted than the night before. School programs, extra services at church, family get-togethers, the shopping: these are all good things, but they take their toll. Fatigue sets in and then frustration. The simplest of troubles cause you to start to lose your cool. What’s supposed to be a season of reflection and joy passes by at such a frenzied pace that we find ourselves like the people of Bethlehem – close to Christ, but ignorant of his presence in our midst.
We do trust that Christ is near, even if we are unaware. That is the message of the season. But how do we tune our hearts so that we might be sensitive to his presence in our lives? Three suggestions for finding Jesus this year:
- Schedule a day of peace – We schedule days for parties and for shopping and for family. Schedule a day of reflection (or even half a day). When others invite you to do something on that day, politely respond, “I’m sorry, I already have plans for that day.” Unplug the TV, turn off the computer and the cell phone (all of your emails and texts will be there the next day). Spend the day reading a good book (include The Good Book), listening to your favorite Christmas music, and resting in God’s presence.
- Look for God in the busyness – I know, this sounds weird, but hang with me. Yes, God is often found in the quiet moments of our lives, but he’s also there at the parties, family get-togethers, and church services (Lord, we pray!). We just need to be on the lookout for him. One thing I’ve gotten in the practice of doing before I go into any setting with other people is to pray, “Lord, help me find your presence among the person/people I am about to interact with.” It’s amazing how that simple prayer changes tasks on my to-do list into opportunities for experiencing God’s presence in my life.
- Do something for someone else – I don’t mean just give money to someone in need. That’s one thing we can do for other people. Giving money is a good thing, but there are many others. Take time to visit someone in nursing home who doesn’t get many visitors. Invite someone who can’t go home to see their family to enjoy your family’s Christmas celebration. Write a letter to someone letting them know what they mean to you. As you do things, remember that Jesus said, “Whatever you did for the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”
At Christmas, we celebrate God with us. Trusting he is here, let’s not forget to be on the lookout for his presence in our lives.
“So roll up your sleeves, put your mind in gear, be totally ready to receive the gift that's coming when Jesus arrives. Don't lazily slip back into those old grooves of evil, doing just what you feel like doing. You didn't know any better then; you do now. As obedient children, let yourselves be pulled into a way of life shaped by God's life, a life energetic and blazing with holiness” – 1 Peter 1:13-16, The Message