Inspiration, Encouragement & Instructions
". . . let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."
(Hebrews 12:1, NIV)
(Hebrews 12:1, NIV)
“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”
― A.W. Tozer
There are so many things to keep in mind when preparing for Christmas: Advent readings, decorations, family gatherings, cookies...teaching children to choose gifts based on the reciever's interests and not their own (not to mention the comprehension of monitary values). It can be hard to navigate Christmas traditions--to find ways to persue honoring Christ's birth among the many joyous cultural traditions that accompany this season.
Over coffee with a friend a couple weeks ago, we found ourselves dicussing this tension we sometimes feel. The below poem is what came to me after several days of considering how best to wrestle with being "in the world but not of it" at Christmas time. It would be so much easier if the Bible told us exactly how to celebrate this most important season. But it doesn't. And so, the tension exists. But we are not left without instruction. We are each told to "seek wisdom" (Proverbs 4:7) to call upon the Holy Spirit to be our guide (John 14:26). And to, "love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all our mind, and all your strength...And love your neighbor as yourself" (Mark 12:30-31).
Jesus, in his wisdom, didn't give us a laundry list of rules and regulations to follow at Christams time. Instead, he gave us himself and asks us to steward what we are given--to give generously to both the healthy and hurting neighbors around us: to share hope, love, joy, and peace. What that looks like for each of us is as unique as each snowflake that falls from the sky. No two people are the same. No two relationshps are the same. No two cultures are the same. And so, what it looks like to love your neighbor can't always be defined in a to do list. What it looks like for you to honor Christ in your traditions may look different from mine. At the heart of the issue is where my heart is; where your heart is. Similiar to the quote from Tozer above, what we let our mind rest on as we are planning and celebrating Christmas is the most imporant thing about our Christmas. So, take some time today to think about what most comes to mind when you anticipate and particpate in your Christmas traditions. I am guessing, like me, you will feel you are doing somethings all right and sometings all wrong. But I pray, this poem encourages you to worry less about getting everything right, or fretting over getting somethings wrong and instead to rest in the delight you are to the King of Kings who came down just for you.
"...call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, 'declares the Lord'" (Jeremiah 29:12-14).
Give Me Away
The light of the world,
A baby born in a stable.
The Word made flesh.
The perfect lamb;
Come to save the world.
The Rescuer of every human heart.
The lights are hung,
The wreatch are set.
The gifts are bought,
The bows are tied.
Did you consider Christ, yet?
The cards are stamped,
The cookies cut.
The stockings stuffed,
The fest begun.
Did you consider Christ, yet?
How do we pause,
Drown out the bustle?
How do we tackle these traditions we wrestle?
If Jesus' birth is what we praise,
Why all these other things this holiday?
Truth be told, I do not know.
But wonder if it's because of this...
The gift of love came don in a man.
He taught us to love our neighbor:
Give what we have to those in need.
To let the little children squeal with glee,
Upon the Father's knee.
Get away from the crowd now and then.
Spend devoted time with closest kin.
Do for a stranger what you'd do for a King.
Do our traditions hold the reason
for our holiday season?
Do they reflect the ways His love is given?
I am certain they do when we pause and say,
I am doing this in Jesus' name.
When busyness leads away from peace,
He gently says,
I am the light of hte world,
Come just for you.
Your heart to warm,
Your home to fill.
The things you do,
The traditions you make,
Can bring me joy
when done for my sake.
You'll get some things wrong.
You'll get a lot of things right.
Either way, you are my heart's delight.
But the most important thing is this;
Your heart, your head, and your hands remember me--
A baby in the stable, the answer to prophecies of old.
The Word became flesh.
The perfact lamb.
The Rescuere of your heart and your plans.
I give you myself
To give away.
You are called to do that in your own
Choose this season to be My light,
Give me away with all your might.
Music helps me greatly in centering my mind on Christ. This album, The Thrill of Hope, by Christy Nockels, is my favorite one this year.
Her family and friends know her as, Jaci. She is the wife of a pastor, a mom of four, writing and communications education instructor, a visionary and an avid runner. As a firm believer in the power and effectiveness of the body of Christ united together to live out the Great Commission, she holds fast to this verse, "Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:19). Of equal importance to her are these words, "...let us run with endurance the race that is set before us" (Hebrews 12:1).
Posts in the Run for Your Life, series: