Tis the Season to Find Quiet
A quiet day at home. Scented candles, Christmas music, and a tranquil snowfall. It should have been the perfect day.
But my heart did not mirror the peaceful surroundings. Instead, I felt restless, irritable, and empty. A twinge of resentment snuck in when I thought of making one more gift, entertaining one more guest, or writing one more Christmas card. This isn’t like me! What happened?
At the first sight of holiday decorations, I resolved to make this year different. I wanted to pull away from the materialistic frenzy and the usual holiday frantic-mode. I wanted relationships to be more important than gifts. I wanted to remember that it was all about Christ’s birth. I yearned for undistracted time to thank Christ for His gift to me – the gift of eternal life, wrapped in the manger, tied with the cross.
When God provided me with a quiet day in the middle of the holiday rush, I realized time together was important to Him too. But I could not get past the commotion of the season. My perfect day was slipping away and I felt like I was being dragged to the starting line of a racetrack. I wanted to dig in my heels and stop the whole Christmas season.
But that seemed a bit extreme, not to mention unfair to my loved ones. Rather than stopping everything, I stopped myself just long enough to figure out how to make the busiest weeks of the year both festive and worshipful, without compromising either. In fact, it worked so well that I continued it all year. At the end of that day, I had direction for the holidays, and by the end of the holidays, I had life-changing principles for the whole year.
How is this season for you? Is your heart into it, or are you just going through the motions? Is calmness buried under Christmas wrappings? Has the chatter of busyness drowned out the cry for meaningful relationships? Here are some ideas that helped me rediscover my heart in the midst of busyness.
Schedule quiet time. Block out an hour or an evening at least once a week with God. Hire a babysitter if necessary. Plan ahead to diminish the distractions. Anticipate your date – protect it. Use the time to talk with God, enjoy praise music, or simply follow a thought to its end. After a busy weekend of ministry as a ministry wife, I try to set aside time on Monday night. The spiritual, physical, and emotional quietness around me re-energizes me for the new week.
I’m Dreaming Of A White Christmas
Choose activities that you “dream about” – things you look forward to. When I evaluated what I did to celebrate Christmas, my “keepers” surfaced quickly. I savor writing our Christmas letter, reflecting on the previous year. I enjoy opening our home to guests with “smell-good” food and a pretty table. Nothing relaxes me more than the gentle glow of the fireplace, twinkling Christmas tree lights, and soft music. I love baking a birthday cake for Jesus, and singing “Happy Birthday” to Him at Christmas dinner. I’m energized by these traditions.
When they fill my life, I have little room for the activities that drain me: shopping for long lists of gifts and decorating with every Christmas piece I own only to put it all away a few weeks later. What fosters your quiet spirit? What adds noise or clutter to your life?
It Came Upon A Midnight Clear
When your scale tips to the hectic side, give yourself time to sleep and rest. Or reward yourself with a warm candlelit bubble bath after a day of plowing through a crowded mall. I soak until calmness washes over the tension. “Midnight clear” moments are deep, restful times that clear the mind until sleep comes easily.
O Come Let Us Adore Him
Meet with Christ every day. First, meet Him in Scripture. Find passages that focus on who He is and what He has given to you. Read slowly, stopping to ask Him a question or to thank Him for something. Some days you may read just one verse or one word, other days a whole chapter. The important thing is to stop to think, feel, and communicate with Christ.
Secondly, meet Him throughout the day. You can turn your mind to Christ and connect with Him anywhere, even at a crowded office party. A quiet spirit is not limited to a silent environment. Remember, God is near. His closeness gives comfort and invites communication.
Do You Hear What I Hear?
When I finally stopped on that December day, I discovered a treasure trapped underneath my busyness – the invitation to intimacy with God Himself.
Each of us has been handed a box with a gift tag that reads, “Be still and know that I am God.” I unwrapped my gift starting that day and discovered the richness of God throughout the year. He was with me at all times. He protected me. He gave strength and confidence. He was my Shepherd and my Father. He was my Haven and my Rock. He provided. He was faithful. He knew. He warned of danger. He delighted in the details of my life because He delighted in me. He sang over me and quieted me with His love. He heard my unspoken whispers. He quieted stormy emotions. His love was unconditional. His grace was sufficient. His arms provided comfort and security. His will was clear. His promises were kept. His words were true.
His gift is eternal. It never runs out or wears out, and can be enjoyed throughout the year, in different sizes, shapes, and wrappings. For example, a busy home-school mom like Sharon may not have the consistent time alone that Clara, her elderly widowed neighbor, does. Sharon’s gift may be wrapped in a headset through which she can hear praise music, blocking out the children’s chatter, whereas Clara has no interruptions in her conversations with God. But both women have the same gift of a quiet intimacy, though in different wrappings.
God offers you the gift of quietness, the key to His abundant storehouse where you will “...know this love that surpasses knowledge that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:19).
Imagine God, with a smile of anticipation and eagerness, waiting for you to open your heart to Him.