Read His Words Before Ours!
Christmas is my favorite time of year. I’m serious. Come November 1st, I am itching to pull out our Christmas decorations and I begin searching the radio stations for Christmas music. I love the cold weather, pray for snow (rein in your side eye, please!), and will drive through neighborhoods in search of the best Christmas light displays for hours if given the opportunity to do so. My name is Merry, so you can’t really blame me for my enthusiasm. As a mama with three children three-and-under at home, my excitement (and my busy-ness) has seemed at an all time high this year. I cannot wait to revive old traditions and establish new ones with our little family. I am also a photographer, so the months leading up to Christmas break are literal insanity for me. Families want an updated picture for their Christmas cards or to give to Grandma & Grandpa, newly-engaged couples want sweet mistletoe pictures to send out with their “save-the-dates”, and companies want their holiday party documented for posterity.
Recently, I spent a little time in a well-known landmark of Kansas City. The building was decked out for the holidays, with twinkle lights, garlands, and trees with gorgeous red and gold ornaments. My favorite Christmas tree stretched tall toward the beautifully arched ceiling, and I smiled when I caught a glimpse of it. I started to make my way toward the tree and was abruptly nudged to the right by a harried-looking mother pushing a stroller. I took another step, but was forced to stop suddenly as I attempted to avoid tripping over a small girl who darted in front of me. I paused for a moment, then painstakingly made my way through the crowd. I reached my destination and snapped a quick picture, then turned back the way I had come. As I weaved my way back through dozens of individuals, I was struck by the constant hum of conversation all around me. No one was shouting, but the collective volume almost seemed like a virtual assault to my ears.
As I reflect on my few moments there in that crowd of people, the parallels between my experience and the current rhythms of my daily life are difficult to ignore. My commitments at this stage of life are many and varied, and if I am not careful, they are quick to take over my thoughts, heart and ears. Have you ever tried to listen to someone else as a barrage of noise continues all around you?
Imagine yourself standing near the edge of a pool where a waterfall collects. The sound of water crashing down is nearly deafening. Picture your good friend standing at the water’s edge on the other side of the waterfall. The two of you are facing each other, and her only task is to tell you “I love you.” “I love you!” she calls. “WHAT?” you respond. “I LOVE YOU!” she raises her voice. “WHAT? I’M SORRY, BUT I JUST CAN’T UNDERSTAND YOU!” you shout. The sensory assault is frustrating for all parties.
How often do we find ourselves in this same position with Christ? He stands there, watching and waiting, intent on speaking His heart into us. We love Him and want to hear from Him, but we can’t hear His voice over the many noises that resound in our ears. Each of us is guilty of allowing busy-ness to rule our lives and hearts on occasion. What we fail to realize is that when we allow our schedules to rule us, we are also failing to create space to listen for His rule in us.
Joseph and Mary faced a similar situation. I’m sure that as young parents and members of a community, there were plenty of things that could have held their attention or distracted them from listening for God’s direction. Instead, they chose to remain focused on Him, ready to obey at a moment’s notice. As a result of their faithfulness, God told them precisely when to go to Egypt. And when God spoke, they obeyed immediately. Their deliberate decision to clear space in order to listen and obey, ultimately resulted in their safe passage into Egypt. Let Joseph’s example encourage you to clear space and listen intently for His voice!
Father, You are faithful and Your love is good. May we never forget that Your voice is the only one we seek. Teach us how to make quiet spaces so that we might listen to You. Rest on us this Christmas and show us how to be Your light in a busy world.
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