Several years ago, at Christmas, Lydia asked to pray.
She was three.
This was her prayer:
“Dear Jesus… I hope you enjoy your Christmas party.”
But how easily I forget.
How quickly I get sidetracked by the broken bulb on the light strand and the number of air mattresses we may or may not need. By the Cyber Mondays and UPS tracking numbers and expiration dates on canisters of whipped cream. By empty tape rolls and lines at the market and did I remember to buy a tri-fold-board for the kiddos’ Christmas Missionary Fair at school? How prone I am to push aside my morning time with God because I need to address Christmas cards and wrap gifts before excited-snoopers find them in the hall closet.
Because there’s the list of teacher gifts and class parties and recipe cards and coupons to use.
And we have cookies to make and crafts to complete and stockings to fill and work-party-dresses to find and because in the midst of it all…
Friday is still Kindergarten Show & Tell Day.
But I want this year to be different.
I want to remember that it’s–
“Those are all wonderful things, but if your family is anything like mine, these good things can squeeze out the best thing–nurturing a longing in our hearts and homes for a fresh sense of wonder that God has come to us in Jesus. If we do not set aside time to focus together on what God’s Word tells us about the promise of Christ, on Christmas morning we can find ourselves surrounded by mounds of torn gift wrap, our laps full of presents, but with hearts that are empty and unprepared.” ~Nancy Guthrie
On December 1st of this year I went to hear Nancy speak and she shared about Jesus’ invitation–
“Come to me all who are weary and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
Jesus invites us always, and especially in this season, to come to Him. He offers His full attention and He offers rest for our souls.
It’s so easy (as Nancy shared) to sacrifice, “the important, for the urgent… the public, for the personal.” So how do we “say no to what is empty, so that we can enter into what is eternal”?
Maybe you’re like me and you are worried that you are already forgetting what you wanted to remember not to forget?
And you look at the calendar and it’s already December 8th and you missed the first two Sundays of your family’s advent tradition, and you realize that you forgot to fill the kiddos’ advent calendar treat pockets so when your little one shows up eating candy you know it’s a piece that somehow got missed from last year, and just maybe the outside lights are sitting in a tub on the front porch, and you have a mouse living in your Christmas tree, and your kid threw up in the church foyer yesterday just in time for your washer to break, and you’ve watched the movie Elf, but you missed too many days of reading the actual Christmas story…
And you don’t want to wake up on the 26th and feel like this season flew by in a blur because you were so busy planning parties that you didn’t carve out time answer the real invitation–
“Come to me…”
That you were too distracted to take in the wonder of the real gift–
And so if you happen to be like me and you find yourself swirling a bit this morning, please join me in a moment of refocus. Please join me in asking for His forgiveness for the distractedness. Please join me as I answer His invitation to come. To Him. Where there is rest for our souls and a person who knows our every need.
We don’t have to wait until next year for an opportunity or a do-over. I love that about Jesus. His invitation is for now, for today. And He offers His yoke, because when we are yoked to Him… it’s Jesus who is truly carrying the weight and it’s Jesus who is directing our steps. When we are linked closely, abiding in Him.
So, this morning, I just want to slow things down a bit as I ask Him to help me not forget. As I ask Him to help me–
Some of the ways I want to refocus:
1) By reading through one of my favorite Christmas collections–
Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus: Experiencing the Peace and Promise of Christmas (edited by Nancy Guthrie)
“An anthology of Advent readings collected from the writings and sermons of 22 classic and contemporary theologians and Bible teachers…this special volume-draws from the works and sermons of classic theologians such as Whitefield, Luther, Spurgeon, and Augustine, and from leading contemporary communicators such as John Piper, J. Ligon Duncan, Randy Alcorn, John MacArthur, Francis Schaeffer, R. C. Sproul, Skip Ryan, and Joni Eareckson Tada to beckon you and your family into the wonder of Jesus’ incarnation and birth.”
2) As a family, by reading through Nancy Guthrie’s daily family devotions for Advent at breakfast each morning, Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room
“How many Christmas mornings have you found your family gathered around the tree with presents beautifully wrapped and a scrumptious feast on the table, but with hearts that have not been prepared to truly take in the wonder of God become human? Not this year. Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room, a family Advent devotional from Bible teacher and mom Nancy Guthrie, is designed to bring your family together during a season that is oftentimes too much about programs and presents, and simply not enough about Jesus. Along with devotions for every day in December, this resource includes explanations of some hard-to-understand aspects of popular Christmas carols, and discussion questions to draw in your elementary through high school-aged kids, transforming this time together from a dry lecture into a treasured family experience.”
3) By gathering around our Advent Wreath. I made ours years ago and it is very simple. You can find our basic Advent Wreath Outline here (you are welcome to download and print for use with your family). Our family’s outline explains much of the symbolism behind the different parts of our Advent Wreath.
4) By reading through our family’s favorite Christmas books together (sharing these over at The Better Mom website today).
5) But beyond and before and above all that… by asking God to stay present in my thoughts throughout the day. I’m asking Him to help me in this, to help me not forget what this whole season is about.
“O God, take me in spirit to the watchful shepherds, and enlarge my mind;
Let me hear good tidings of great joy, and hearing, believe, rejoice, praise, adore,
My conscience bathed in an ocean of repose,
My eyes lifted to a reconciled Father;
Place me with ox, ass, camel, goat, to look with them upon my Redeemer’s face, and in him account myself delivered from sin;
Let me with Simeon clasp the new-born child to my heart, embrace him with undying faith, exulting that he is mine and I am his.
In him thou has given me so much that heaven can give no more.”
~ from The Valley of Vision
How do you hope-plan-pray to remember not to forget?