The days between Thanksgiving and Christmas can be an extremely busy time for most people. Between the rush to buy the perfect gifts for family and friends and the seemingly endless parties and family gatherings, we can easily burnout before mid-December. As I’ve gotten older I’ve started to realize that the holiday season just seems to get busier and busier. And sometimes I just don’t like all of the busyness.
In college, I would rush to buy all of my presents after finishing finals sometimes a week before Christmas. I would think to myself, “when I’m done with college, I will have more time to enjoy the holiday season.” When I was single and working full-time, sometimes I was too exhausted at the end of the day to even think about Christmas cheer. I would think to myself, “when I get married and have a husband, I will be more settled and able to anticipate Christmas.” Then I got married—to a seminary student. Every December meant studying and final exams. Every Christmas break meant prep for the next semester or J-term class. Again, I would think to myself, “when he graduates and we live a normal life, then I will be able to prepare my heart for Christmas and enjoy this season.”
And now here we are. Christmas is merely an example of the many other times I tell myself some variation of the “when _____ happens, then I can rest and enjoy the season.” Well, I’ve learned something really profound in these last six months. It won’t happen. It’s not that I can’t experience rest, or a more streamlined schedule, or even a lighter schedule. Those are all manageable and attainable goals. And of course there are instances where I need to take a hard look at my schedule and see if I’m being a poor steward of my time. But sometimes no amount of rearranging will change the subtle discontent in my heart regarding my desire for more time. More than anything I have needed to learn that my constant looking forward with longing eyes only reveals a heart that is simply not able to rest in what God has given me right now. Over time I’ve seen rest and a lighter schedule as my savior and means of contentment.
Daniel has often reminded me of a very important truth regarding my “if only” statements. Those things are not my savior. Only Jesus is my savior. Only he can provide me the rest and contentment I yearn for even in the midst of an overwhelming schedule. When I fail to recognize this simple yet crucial truth, I separate rest from the giver of rest, and thus make my desire for rest idolatry.
So as I finish up my final preparations for Christmas I don’t want to be ruled by my sinful desire and grasping for a season that is not mine. I want to find rest in Christ even when my mind is scattered and fuzzy, and my to-do list is longer than I would like. Only he can give us true and lasting rest, in the busy times and the quiet times.