Each December I say, “I’ve got to be intentional. I’ve got to make the effort to be still and enjoy the season. I need to be intentional with our family to teach and remind them of God’s Story and the arrival of our Savior.
The reality? We’re three days behind already on our daily Advent devotion.
There’s gifts to purchase or make. There’s baking to do. There’s parties to attend. Not to mention work. There’s Christmas pageants and grumpy people in front of you in the long line at the grocery store. And I’m guilty. Today I waited 20 minutes at the eye center just to drop off a prescription and pay for it. But after tapping my foot and catching up on reading emails I had sitting in my inbox, I couldn’t wait any longer because I had another appointment to be at in 15 minutes. The customer and the optometrist were at the register checking out and I glared over at them as I stood up and hastened toward the door while our eyes met for a moment. I felt horrible after I left and now I wonder if he’ll remember me when I have to go back and try to hand in that prescription again. I hate how impatience can escalate in December.
The joy, peace, and excitement of Christmas can quickly be swallowed up as I stand in a frazzled daze in the kitchen eating the sugar cookies I made to give to someone else. Am I the only one?
Below is a quote I read from an artist’s book that a dear friend gave me last month that hit home right around Thanksgiving. I want to remember it this month…need to remember it.
“If – As Herod – we fill our lives with things. And again with things. If we consider ourselves so unimportant that we must fill every moment of our lives with action. When will we have time to make the long, slow journey across the desert as did the Magi? Or sit and watch the stars as did the Shepherds? Or brood over the coming of the child as did Mary? For each one of us there is a desert to travel. A star to discover. And a being within ourselves to bring to life.” – Michael Podesta (emphasis added)
I can be like Herod and think I can fill my life with stuff. I consider myself unimportant too often and fill my life with activities just to make me feel I’m important – or so others will see me as I appear to be busy doing important things. And when those things fill my calender and to-do list, I feel like I’m just digging my hole a little deeper in the hot desert instead of even having the energy to take baby steps forward on my journey.
When I read that quote, I thought, the shepherds didn’t think they were important. Mary never thought she’d carry and raise the Son of God. The Magi didn’t know they were following a star that led to the Savior of the world.
But what a gift they received because God’s promise was a surprise. He showed up in the middle of their every-day lives when they least expected it. And he continues to do that today. He’ll show up on those days when it feels like we’re in the middle of the desert thirsty for rest or hot with frustration. He’ll show up when we think we’re incapable of doing all our responsibilities. He’ll show up when we need to be pulled out of the hole. And he’ll show up at just the right time.
This month, I pray we’ll all relish in the gift of a slow journey like the Magi, making time to gaze an the amazement of stars and lights like shepherds and brood as new life takes form within us like Mary.
There’s a desert for each of us to journey through. And yes, it seems harder to tread through our journey during Christmas season. But while we’re in that place, we’re given the gift of hope and assurance when we least expect it.
* Michael Podesta’s picture he created can be found here along with other beautiful prints.