Am I the only one who still has Christmas decorations up on the 7th day of January? This beginning of the new year is melancholy for me because I dread taking down Christmas; packing it up, putting it away. And as I glance back at a few Christmas photos I took of the calm moments of the season, I wanted to share a journaling I wrote a few weeks before Christmas. It still applies in January, or February, or…
We’ve crossed over the threshold of the end. Stepped into December, ready to shed off the soggy, freezing and muddy coat of 2016, drop it on the floor, enter into the warm, comforting holiday season; Christmas giving us a greeting kiss on the cheek.
Despite living in the sunny south state of Texas, the wind is moaning around the corners of the house today, the drizzly rain sliding like tears down the kitchen window. I took a moment to enjoy the soft trickle of steaming hot coffee slowly pouring out of the French press, filling my mug. Immediately I reached out and wrapped my hands around the warming ceramic.
The house, likewise is warming my soul this morning, the Christmas tree lit, its white happy lights greeting me awake. Besides the wind, it is silent, peaceful, the steady hum of the fish tank pump melding into the background. I could have a morning like this every day; slow, relaxed, pressing my “to-do’s” to the back of my mind despite their constant fight to spin me into a stressed-out tizzy. I look up at the folksy calendar adorning my kitchen wall, with a painted pine tree atop a hill of fallen snow. It says in white, “All is calm, all is bright.” I smile as I think of how I could preserve the page and frame it to hang every Christmas.
And this is the ideal moment God whispers, “Be still and know that I am God.” Like the knarly winter coat, drop it all away and be still. Know. I Am.
How much harder to do this in the imperfect everyday chaos. I run out the door late, drink my breakfast in the car, shout at the cars going so slow, C’mon! And the other day I tipped over the French press on the floor of the passenger side because I was in such a rush to get out the door and have my coffee, too. My car smelled like coffee for days. Old coffee. A reminder to slow down, allow myself more time. Be still in this moment.
In the stillness, there’s a knowing, a deep knowing there’s more, profoundly more to my life than a rushing to my stressful 8:00-5:00 job. There’s actually a plan in place written by the Lord who created me.
More importantly in the still, he wants me to know him, not his plan for my life, Him. I AM, he says; this is what he wants me to know.
He is sovereign above the chaos of the world, all knowing over my life, the shepherd of my soul, a firm foundation upon which I need to stand, the steadfast anchor of my soul. He is good. He is love. Fierce as a lion, sacrificing and innocent as a lamb.
His plan was sending his son Jesus as a simple baby—entering humanity like we all do. Becoming like us, to connect with us like no other god ever could or would. Loving us ultimately at the cross, yet starting in a feeding trough. Giving us Christmas.
I wonder how God felt—planning this amazing gift for the world, wondering if we’d accept it or not, whether we’d actually like it or want to secretly return it without the receipt. And that joy as he watched the unwrapping of the gift—Mary and Joseph, the barn animals, the shepherds, finally the wisemen—and he held his breath, smiling.
Hold also your breath this season, stop and watch the coffee pour, the rain or snow fall, the cat curled up under the tree, the kids’ laughter through the house, the cinnamon rolls baking, a hug from your family, or if you’re alone, also, be still and know God loves you. He has since the beginning. Unwrap his gift to you and don’t return it.
All is calm, all is bright… As you hang up 2016 on the coat hook and take on 2017, wrap the wonderous love of God around you, unafraid of what the new year will bring.
“Be still and know I AM God.”