A voice of one calling:
“In the wilderness prepare
the way for the Lord;
make straight in the desert
a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be raised up,
every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
the rugged places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
and all people will see it together.
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”— Isaiah 40:3-5
So far today, I have no Christmas decorations up besides the solitary Cub Scout green wreath I bought before Thanksgiving.
Yes, many have strings of lights twinkling on their garages, their trees visible with lights in their windows, their decorations up, their garlands trimmed. Yesterday I was at Super Target and marveled at the shapes, types, and colors of all the twinkling lights one could buy, and as I threaded my way among carts and end caps overflowing with Christmas decorations for the home, I realized my house looked spartan in comparison.
Actually, I am making preparations: I am sprucing up my house before the holidays. My biggest project was to start re-doing my kitchen cabinets. After completing my island, I will be starting the rest this week. A several-week project at best, this first phase has left me tired and stressed. And I have come to the conclusion today that what I need most is time spent with God, not time spent in Home Depot.
As I make preparations to do this project—set up the space, cover and tape the area, arrange the tools, plan out the process, I see that I am not making this kind of preparation for the birth of Jesus. And that bothers me. As I consider my mental to-do lists of all that needs to be bought and done for the event of Christmas, I realize I am not making those preparations for the coming of my Savior.
Every year it seems, we become like hamsters on a wheel, and run and run to get ready for the magical December 25. It’s a marathon for many of us, and I wonder if our hearts are ever truly prepared for God entering into our world… I know I get distracted by the trappings of Christmas and now a project on the front burner has amplified it.
So what to do….? I find quiet time and pray. I pray that my heart might be changed to prepare for what really matters most—God With Us. Emmanuel. The birth of Jesus, who is my Savior. I pray that will be my focus these next few weeks, and as I paint and stain and prepare my house, that God will be in my mind and heart always. That the trappings will be kept at bay to a reasonable amount for my house and that I will hear the voice of God.
Perhaps you are making preparations too…. where is God in the process? As we spruce up for the holidays, let’s make sure our spiritual lives are spruced up too, with prayer, reflection, repentance, and expectation.
Prayer—“God of Grace, I know my heart needs to be prepared for Your coming and I am very distracted with other things right now. I pray for time in Your quiet presence, that I may know You more deeply. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”