Too busy for the real gift?

Christmas Presents

It’s only two weeks until Christmas. If that thought makes you feel panicky inside chances are that the end-of-year busyness and all the preparations needed to make Christmas ‘perfect’ (or at least meet the family expectations) are taking their toll.

All the end-of-year events, the planning, the shopping, the decorations, the gift wrapping, and the cooking. In conversations about plans for Christmas I’ve been surprised by some of the responses. There’s so much to do, even thinking about it is exhausting, and they can hardly wait for Christmas to be over. Then there’ll be time for rest.

In the busy onslaught of Christmas preparations, do we miss the real significance? To celebrate the birth of Christ, the Prince of Peace. Ann-Maree Keefe has an insightful song called Busy. While it’s not specific to Christmas, I think it’s a timely message. In it she sings:

and the peace that was promised
held out as a gift
we run straight past it
for the door of a lift
and my heart is heavy
when I hear you say
you’re just too busy

What will you do with God’s gift of peace and grace as you come into this Christmas season?

Image sourced here.

Thoughts on how to receive the gift of rest

“So how does one rest? … especially at this time of year!”

Good question. I’m not an expert on the matter by any means, but here are a few of my thoughts on rest.

Open the Gift

Who receives a gift and leaves it unopened? Tear off the wrapping paper and appreciate the beauty and value of the gift. Don’t put it on a shelf or in a cupboard and think “I’ll get to that later, when I have time.”

I don’t think God rested because he was tired from making stars and mountains and kangaroos and people. When God chose to rest, he set an example for us to follow. (Of course this is only one facet of God’s rest, but let’s just keep it simple for the moment.)

Trust the Giver

When we rest, we are trusting God to meet our needs. We don’t have to keep striving every minute of the day. When we stop and bring our focus back to the Lord, we give him the opportunity to meet us in our situation. Listen for what he might be saying to you in this moment.

Give Thanks

Celebrate and give him thanks for this precious blessing.

Enjoy the Gift

Don’t you think it pleases God to see you enjoying his gift? Don’t give in to guilt. There’s a time for everything … including rest! Allow him to refresh you.

Lake Te Anau, New Zealand
Lake Te Anau, New Zealand

Tomorrow I’ll share a few practical ideas on receiving rest.

The Feast Fixation Face-off

A few years ago I walked into my kitchen to discover the scene above. Yes, that’s a candid shot. No staging. No digital manipulation. My cat Ebony was experiencing a feathered feast fixation. Nothing was going to distract her from the object of her desire. Frankly I’m amazed that the birds were taking it so calmly … or perhaps they were overwhelmed by Ebony’s hypnotic stare.

Don’t ask me why she was in the fruit basket (fortunately sans-fruit at the time); presumably it offered the best view. For those of you concerned about the birds’ welfare, they later entered the Budgerigar Protection Program and were relocated to the safety of my mum’s bird aviary.

Speaking of a feast fixation, I was reminded of it today as I watched this funny video “Ormie Wants Cookies” (Thanks for your tweet AT):


It’s easy to see something we want and become fixated on it. The eye plants the seed and the mind waters it. Anyone for a game of self-justification? It looks so good, I’m sure it will taste good, I want it, just one will be okay, I know I’ll love it, I really want it, I deserve it, I need it, I must have it! And we think that we won’t be satisfied until we have it in our hands … or mouth. The truth is that we probably still won’t be satisfied, even when we’ve consumed the entire contents of the cookie jar (or not, in Ormie’s case).

Christmas is almost upon us for another year, and it is easy to become fixated on the feast. So much effort goes into planning the perfect Christmas dinner, and making sure there’s enough food to feed a football team for a week. I know I’ve been guilty of over-indulgence, and I’m fairly sure I’m in pretty good company. This year I want to do things a little differently. It’s great to celebrate with family and friends, and sharing a meal is a wonderful way to do that. I’m still looking forward to sharing Christmas meals with my family. But I don’t want that to overshadow the reason for the celebration. Jesus came to earth to give us abundant life, to make a way for us to be reconciled to God. He’s the one who can give us true satisfaction. So if you’re going to fixate on anything this Christmas, the gift of Jesus’ birth is a pretty good place to start.

The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. (John 6:33 NLT)