Christmas time is all about joy, peace, and love; but for many of us, the stress seems to snuff out our personal joy. We are living jet setting lives when we were created to enjoy the meandering. “Be still (cease striving) and know that I am God,” says Psalm 46:10. When was the last time you slowed down enough to cease striving? Surely not during this busy pre-Christmas season with meals to plan, presents to buy and wrap, guests to prepare for, and shows to attend. And yet Nehemiah reminds us, “Then he said to them, “Go, eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
So how do we experience this joy in the midst of busy holiday preparations? Throughout Scripture we find that joy is always coupled with the Presence of the Lord. Psalm 89:15 says, “How blessed are the people who know the joyful sound! O Lord, they walk in the light of Your countenance.” This requires more than just a quick Quiet Time in the morning. Finding the joy of the Lord comes in spending time with Him: listening and praising Him. Joy comes in taking time to sit down with friends and reminding each other of the goodness of God. When was the last time you and another just sat and talked about the greatness of God?
“Tradition gives us a sense of solidarity and roots, a knowing there are some things one can count on,” states Gloria Gaither (American singer/song writer). Traditions are a great way to celebrate family, unless we have so many expectations that it is humanly impossible to do them all. Last Christmas I had back surgery and arrived home from the hospital the same day family was driving in for Christmas. We had moved from Texas to Kansas just two weeks prior. I had managed to bake one batch of cookies. That’s it. Nothing more. The kids set up the Christmas tree. That was all the decorations for the year – no outside lights, no garland with pine cones. Just the tree and ornaments.
I had managed to a little shopping and wrapping, but no homemade gifts. And yet, we were all together enjoying the time and antics of grandbabies and grown children (fake snowball fights, rubber sword fights, and icing wars as sugar cookies were made and decorated by all.) I spent the holiday in bed with ice packed around my legs. I was able to sit in the recliner for a while Christmas morning. But joy still reigned in my heart. I had plenty of time to sit and talk to Jesus – to thank Him for coming to earth as a baby.
So this year, I am stressing less, simplifying the have to’s, enjoying the want to’s, and trying to stay in an attitude of prayer and praise. What about you? How can you simplify, cease striving, and spend more time with your Savior? Others will see the joy in you, and the Joy of the World will be yours, too!
Read about some practical helps for the holidays at https://christianleadermag.com/home-for-the-holidays-2/