Be Still

The Christmas tree is decorated. Gifts are being wrapped and lovingly placed beneath it. It’s Christmas time again. I know this not just because of the beautiful decorations everywhere or the calendar, but also because the mall and commercials made sure to tell me about it months ago. So many things are left to do and experience, but though my schedule and life are saying “hurry, rush,” I can’t miss how often my heart is whispering, “slow, be still.”

I often see depictions of the time leading up to Jesus’ birth as still and calm, but I’ve had three babies of my own. Something tells me that a virgin mother-to-be nowhere close to her mama and her newlywed husband were probably not completely still and calm. In a strange town, they were left with no place to sleep or deliver the baby that was going to come anytime. It wasn’t just a matter of having all the baby equipment and nursery prepared. For Mary, it was more than being ready to raise a baby, it was a matter of life and death. Gabriel had promised that she would give birth to the Savior and that his life would be a blessing, but the angel gave no such promise that she would see the child grow up, and back then, childbirth was a dangerous situation. So, Mary and Joseph prepared as well as they could.

But that is the thing about the lead up to Jesus and the celebration of His birth. We all feel the need to prepare, even today. We clean and get ready; we plan and schedule. And, to be completely honest, most years by the time Christmas is almost here, I’m usually ready for it to be gone and life to be a bit normal again. However, when it’s finally Christmas Day, it all rushes back to me no matter how spread out I was in the weeks leading up to the day. I remember Christ, fresh from Heaven and all bundled up and pulled in close needing to be kept warm and comforted for the first time in eternity. I remember how the sky was filled with angels singing, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” I remember a star. Not just some sweet twinkle seen from earth, but the brilliant fireball almost certainly larger than the earth itself. Then I am flooded by the magnitude of this day and overwhelmed by the compassion and power of such an awesome, yet accessible God.

So in my desire this holiday season to teach my children the true meaning of Christmas in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the season, I cannot miss the lesson for myself as well. The lesson He is speaking into my heart to slow down and remember. His desire is not to add one more thing on my to-do list or rebuke me for my schedule. His desire is for me to simply remember Him. Such a simple lesson and habit becomes a catalyst of a worshipful heart that will last long after the gifts are opened and the Christmas tree is taken down. And that is his desire for you as well. Our part is to be still, and know that He is God. His promise afterward is that He will be exalted among the nations and exalted in the earth.

Heather Patterson