Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Less presents, more Presence!

Is the hustle and bustle of the holidays already stressing you out? Do you struggle to survive the Christmas season with your soul intact? You have been extended an invitation today that you dare not pass up. Keep reading!

Today's reading: Isaiah 55

"Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Yes, come buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight in abundance. Incline your ear and come to Me. Hear and your soul shall live..." -Isaiah 55:1-3

Why do we really celebrate Christmas? To show off our creative decorating skills? To out-do everyone else with the best gift of the year? To bake millions of cookies? To listen to Christmas carols 24/7 for the entire month of December? To see how many Christmas parties we can fit into an already hectic calendar? To perfectly re-create the nostalgic Christmases of your childhood? I doubt those are your real reasons- so why do we let these things crowd out the real reason for Christmas? After you have tied every perfect bow and spent hours standing in line to purchase the hot toy of the season... at the close of Christmas day, are you satisfied? Or just exhausted. I don't know about you- but I long for something more. "Letting my soul delight in abundance" sounds so wonderful to me! How do we do it?

First, I think we must tune out the consumer-driven culture- that may look like trimming that gift list, or telling your kids they will only get 3 gifts for Christmas (Jesus only got 3, why are we any better?), or perhaps you can add up all those teacher gifts and office party pollyannas and send a donation to a charity instead. Second, we may need to turn down some social invitations- in order to spend quality time with the people who matter most. And third, we cannot simply cut things out of our routine and not replace them with anything- all those old habits will quickly fill the void- so we need a plan. And God's suggestion is: "Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good... Hear and your soul shall live." Perhaps you need to spend a little more time in His word this season- or have some family devotional time to talk about the real reason for the season. Maybe you could go Christmas caroling with friends, or volunteer at a soup kitchen on Christmas Eve. Personally, I have decided one thing I am going to do is only listen to Christian Christmas songs this year- no B101.1 for me. Because I know that as I listen to carols about our dear Savior, my heart turns in His direction... when I am sitting in traffic and Silent Night starts playing, I can let go of my frustration and remember why this holiday is so special. Eat what is good... time with the Lord... time with family and close friends... You can do it! And you will not regret it! This may be the best Christmas ever if you put in a little effort and show a little restraint!

That is our challenge today- spend some time with the Lord listening to what He is calling you to do, in order to truly focus on His dear Son this season. And then craft a plan to put His instructions into action! Even though there may be fewer presents under the tree, you may find yourself delighting in the abundance of His Presence more than ever!

Praying it is so,

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