Who can believe it, that we have already arrived in the middle of November? With as quickly as the days seem to be passing yet again this year, it should cause you to pause and slow down a bit in your own daily routine. However, this time of year we tend to shift into high gear, overdo, overschedule, overcommit. Do you find yourself also overwhelmed as a result? How can you not be when it’s not yet Thanksgiving but the season has already exploded into our every day?
As you move forward toward Christmastime, remember this – your Heavenly Father wants you to keep it simple. He wants your progress, not perfection. He wants you to move TOWARD Him, not to BE Him. He wants you to stop and think – look at the manger where His precious Son Jesus was laid. What do you see? Do you see glitz and gold, piles of gifts and elaborate food or decorations, holiday parties, picture perfect photo cards, or the like?
No. You see something much different. You see simple. You see a manger where animals usually fed, filled with hay, with one precious baby boy laid out. He’s not wrapped in the latest trendy print or style for baby swaddles – He is swaddled in whatever simple materials were available to keep His tiny body warm and protected. He is surrounded by his earthly mother and father, animals, and a few shepherds who came out of urging and curiosity. There’s nothing fancy here, even though He is born a king. Don’t you think that’s intentional? Out of His unending love for us, Our Father wants us to see what is most important here – that you and I are to come to Him by way of His Son Jesus. This precious Jesus is the one you should come to and take in and follow after. So if you are preparing for anything right now, prepare your heart and your home (and all of the other places you will go) for one thing. Prepare for Jesus, for what He can do in and through you this season. Draw your family close together. Draw close to the manger by reading the story of the birth of Christ in the Gospel of Luke. Draw together around a table for a meal, and give the gift of words of love and encouragement, affirmation and appreciation to one another (instead of boxes and bags) – these are words that give life and deepen connection.
Do you still feel like you have to spend money? Then put it where it can truly make a difference. Put it to work through a church ministry where it can make a difference for youth, heal a marriage, feed those in need, help another family make ends meet, impact the community, and lead someone to a life with Jesus, an eternal gift. Support an Angel Tree, Backpack Project, or Food Baskets. Put it to work through a local organization, working to support families in need in our own community, connect them with jobs and come to a place of health and wholeness. Don’t take it lightly – pray and look to God for His leading on what He would have You do with the blessings He has given you. Prepare your heart, shift your focus, and dig in to what matters most to Him.
If you haven’t been around SPL lately, you may have missed some moments here that can help you prepare for the weeks ahead. Recently, our SPL Handbell Ensemble shared a Bell Concert titled “Seasons” – the music shared can help you to reflect on the seasons of your own life and faith walk and prepare your spirit for the weeks ahead. And, just this week, the SPL Women’s Ministry Team sponsored the annual Advent by Candlelight program and fellowship. This is intended to draw women together in community and faith, with a time to pause and prepare hearts for the season. Here below are links to recordings of each of these programs. Take a few moments to listen and use these as opportunities to listen for God calling you to the manger, to Him through His Son Jesus. Give Him your progress, not perfection, and dare to keep it simple. All for Him who gave all for us.