I failed. Already! It's not even December 1st, and I've messed up. Today was the first day of the Jesse Tree. Did I remember? No. Now granted, today has been chaotic. Haircuts, baking, cooking, church... yada yada yada... but I didn't keep first things first. Why is this so hard? How can we NOT slow for a few moments to remember the story of the Christ child from the beginning?
Shabbat... When my mother-in-law returned from six months in Israel, I remember her saying, "I miss Shabbat." so often. The hurrying and cleaning, the anticipation and then at sundown, it stopped. Everything stopped as the family sat down to pray the same prayer that has been lifted up for thousands of years by God's people.
Blessed are You, the Lord our God, King of the Universe, Creator of the fruit of the vine.
They rest. They reflect. And they step back, trusting that life is in God's hands more than it is a product of our own labors.
A new friend met me for coffee, and the topic of self-sufficiency came up. Why is it that we feel the need to prove to ourselves and to God that we are self-sufficient? Why do we find no sin in busyness without Sabbath rest? Why do we think hard work is superior to meditation and prayer? Why are we afraid to slow? Afraid to trust in something greater that our strength. And this is what I communicate to my sons without even speaking by hurrying by a moment made for more. So much more.
Resting before the Lord and preparing our hearts this Advent won't come naturally. Our nature is to hurry. To worry. To try for self-sufficiency. To keep plodding through the next thing. Bootstrap faith. At the end of it all, I'm pretty sure the only things that will come from this are an ulcer, a panic attack, hopelessness, and a lot of foolish barns.
A wise friend once told me that if you had a container full of sand and tried to force some big rocks into it, you would never fit it all. But if you put the rocks in first and then poured the sand over the rocks and into all the crannies, you would save your strength and find success in the task.
Tomorrow is an insanely busy day. I'll be in my van with my little men most of the day. I hate insanely busy days. But what are my rocks? Is it the appointments or...
Fix these words of God in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.
Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
All looks like sand when we stand on the Rock.
So we stop. We pray for friends who moved to the other side of our country yet love us so well from afar. We open His Word. And we remember. Christ is first. Christ is all. We are here today to be used by Him, not to use His gifts for our goals.
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus' blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus' name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.
"My Hope is Built on Nothing Less"
by Edward Mote, 1797-1874