“Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.” (Heb 4:11, NKJV)
Resting in Jesus. It is such a beautiful concept! But Christmas rest? Come on, it’s an oxymoron!
Last year at Christmastime, my family and I made a great effort to rest in Jesus throughout the Christmas season.
I firmly believed–and even put it out as a suggestion in a pre-Christmas devotionals–that the secret was keeping Christmas simple, sharing God’s love, and seeing Christ in the symbols of Christmas, and I did everything in my power to do just that.
First of all, I pre-planned time away from work around Christmas. I figured that would give me the time to be able to focus on Christmas without stressing out.
Next I planned a little get together at the end of November with my son and some special friends. They did a beautiful job of decorating my house. I didn’t need to worry about a thing.
I had thought about the gifts well in advance. As part of their Christmas, everyone would have a gift given in their name to those who wouldn’t have a Christmas otherwise. For example, in the name of my son’s special friend whose family has chickens, I sent chickens to a poor family in South America. In the name of my mom, whose broken hip has left her mobility-challenged, I sent a gift of wheelchairs to Africa, and so on. The rest of the gifts were all purchased and wrapped weeks before Christmas. Since my cat likes to unwrap presents, I kept them in a safe place and didn’t put them under the tree until the morning of Christmas Eve.
I also found myself scaling down Christmas dinner. Who needs two kinds of potatoes and two desserts, anyway? And two kinds of gravy? Not necessary! I then divided up the cooking responsibilities between myself and my mom, and finally, I accepted the fact well in advance that I would have strangers around my table for Christmas dinner.
Then I carefully planned out the evening in advance, from the menu to the agenda, taking care in everything to ensure that this would be a celebration of Christ’s birthday.
But it didn’t work. In fact, nothing worked out the way it was supposed to.
Take, for example, Christmas dinner. In the end, we only had immediate family around the table, and in the days leading up to Christmas, I became obsessed with finding someone to share our Christmas dinner with! Oh God, I’m trying so hard to share Your love at Christmas, but it’s just not working!
Then there was the ice storm that happened 3 days before Christmas and the ensuing flood in our basement. How can you stay completely relaxed when you have flood waters to clean up? When you are left totally without hot water, and the repairman can only come between 8 pm and midnight on–Christmas Eve? What do you do when that same repairman informs you right in the middle of your family’s Christmas celebration that because the water heater unit is a rental and flooding isn’t covered by your rental policy, you are responsible for buying out the ruined water heater? And then he tells you they can’t install the new one for another three days?
Of course my Christmas Eve plans were ruined as well. Between our guests taking the wrong road and arriving late, the fact that our son hadn’t finished his Christmas shopping before it was time to leave for the Christmas Eve service, and the fact that the water heater repairman would be arriving right in the midst of our planned family celebration, how are we supposed to make this a special celebration of Christ’s birthday?
Tears of desperation clouded my eyes as we loaded everyone in the cars for the Christmas Eve service at church. “I’ve failed You, God,” I breathed. “I’ve tried so hard, to make You the centre of Christmas, but I’ve failed! Christmas is ruined! Help us…”
Please join us on Tuesday to learn how God answered that plea for help.
In His love,
Lyn Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author — “Aboard God’s Train — A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer”, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.
(To access the entire Christmas Rest mini-series, please click here.)