Every year folks talk about how busy the Christmas season is. They declare that THIS will be the year they slow down and enjoy the true meaning of the season. Good intentions. I’m guilty of it too. Every year I begin December longing to truly feel that silent night, holy night. And while there will be moments late at night, or in church on Christmas Eve, I don’t feel like I experience what I long to have during the holiday. I’m not looking for movie-like Christmas miracles, just a little deeper peace; an expectancy throughout the season seeking the coming King.
Part of the problem is the noise and clutter in everyday life. What if we made intentional decisions every day to remove the noise we can control? What if each day until December 25th we live expectantly? Unlike the shepherds and wise men, we have a date on the calendar. We know that we are going to celebrate the birth of Jesus. For believers, it is the birth of our King. The man who changed the course of history.
I don’t sacrifice for Lent. But this year, I’ve decided to sacrifice for Advent. I’m clearing some clutter and making way for the birth of the Savior. I’m giving up talk radio for Advent. No Dave Ramsey or Sean Hannity or NPR. My time with the radio on will be with music declaring the coming King.
The other decision I’ve made is to not get caught in the hurriedness. We will make choices about the most important activities and be in the moment; not worrying about rushing to the next thing.
How will you make this season special? Will you join me in living expectantly each day, choosing to prepare your heart and mind for the birth of the King?
I often struggle with believers (Christians) who walk around saying that God just wants us to be happy. I don’t think so. The Bible tells us that he wants us to be obedient. The result of our obedience [being doers of the Word, James 1:22], can be joy. The fruit (result) of the spirit in Galatians 5:22 includes peace and joy. Yes, God delights in his children and our joy is complete when walking in the light of Christ.
Think about it. If God wanted His children to just be happy with no consideration for God’s ways of living, why did those closest to Christ have such hard lives and die very cruel deaths including Christ himself? James died by the sword. Other disciples we know were either exiled, murdered or martyred for their faith.
We live in fallen world; as such both believers and non-believers will have trials. Living without our eyes on Christ makes sadness sadder and loneliness lonelier. Navigating trials is part of our journey. Going through trials in a faithful, obedient, God-seeking manner ensures that we don’t get stuck in the storm. We keep moving toward Christ who leads us to a greater peace and joy in the end.
At some point in everyone’s life something bad happens. The country music industry is proof of that. How many songs are all about heart-ache and double crossing meanness? Maybe you were shorted an opportunity as a child, as a young adult someone lies or breaks your heart, or as a professional someone discredits you to the point of losing your job. Take a look at these three scenarios — what’s the commonality? What could you control? Finding yourself as a victim offers the opportunity for choices.
You have the choice to stay down in the situation and wallow, or you can take charge of your responsibility in the situation, how did it get as bad as it did? What could you have done differently? Answers to these questions allow the freedom to grow as a person, move forward and not remain stuck.
Even if it takes years to grow up and out of the situation, at some point in order to be free of the chains of victimization, you have to own the situation, learn from it and grow into a wiser person.
Hanging on to unfair situations in the past only burdens the future. This process of overcoming injustices can be amazing and freeing. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is work on bettering yourself and breaking free when others around you don’t live by the same life-long values.
Consider yourself challenged to do some soul-searching and decide today what stronghold or area of your life needs addressing. Can you see yourself as successfully walking away from being a victim and being free from whatever restricts you from being the best you were created to be? Is it an area that at the end of your days you will be thankful you addressed?