This past weekend I had to make a run to Home Depot to pick up a few things for our house. And when I walked in the front door of the store I was met by a platform filled with lit-up fake Christmas trees.
I had my two oldest daughters with me and when my five-year old daughter saw the trees, anticipating Trick-or-Treating this weekend, she was aghast and said, “It’s not Christmas time?!? It’s Halloween!” Even at 5 years old she’s observant enough to notice how we rush into Christmas.
When I saw the trees my eyes widened. My chest grew just a little bit tighter. I let out a quiet sigh and I thought to myself, “And so it begins.”
While it may seem like the holiday season is far off, the reality is, it’s just around the corner. The other day I was in a meeting and someone made the comment that there really are only six work weeks left to this year. Saying it like that put into perspective for me how rapidly this year will come to a close.
As we ramp up for this next two month stretch, life can start to feel very scattered and chaotic. All of the extra things we have to do will only add to an already full and busy life. The added errands we have to run. The gatherings that we have to prep. Work deadlines we have to meet. The extra functions we have to attend. The presents we have to buy. The cards we have to write. It seems like it never ends.
As we walked into Home Depot and saw the platforms of trees, the emotional response attached to my thought, “And so it begins,” was not “Yeah!!!” It was “Ugh.” If we allow ourselves to get caught up in the social pressure and expectation of the next few months, instead of enjoying the holiday season, we will grow to dread it.
In Psalm 46 the psalmist paints a picture of chaos and disorder. He writes about the earth quaking and giving way, mountains falling into the sea, and waters roaring and foaming. And while it might be a bit of an exaggeration to compare the description of Ps. 46 to the holidays, for many of us they are chaotic and disorderly and often leave us drained and feeling empty.
But interestingly, right after his description of chaos the psalmist contrast the mayhem with a picture of peace and calm. He writes about a city whose people are safe and glad, a place where people don’t live in fear. The two pictures don’t seem to be describing two different moments in time. It seems that by connecting these two descriptions together, the psalmist is saying that even when chaos abounds we can find rest.
Which raises the question, how? How do we find rest in the midst of chaos?
If we follow the psalm to the end we read a very counter-intuitive invitation. Instead of trying manage the chaos the psalmist invites us to be still in it.
He invites us to stop, step back, and to simply breath. To not feel as though we have to do it all. To not run ourselves ragged trying to keep up with the social expectations. But to just be.
And it’s not only an invitation to be still, it’s also an invitation to know. To know that God is God. To know that there is something more important than impeccably wrapped gifts and perfectly staged Christmas cards. To know His voice so well that it cuts through all of the extra noise that the next two months brings.
“Be still and know that I am God.”
Going into this next stretch these are words I need to live by. I don’t have to do it all. I can’t and probably shouldn’t. I just need to be. I just need to surrender and trust. To rest in the fact that God is God and I am not.
So over the next few months, when your chest starts to tighten because you feel like you have so much to do. When you begin to dread all of the extra things that are filling up your calendar. When you find that your joy is depleted and you have nothing left…
Take a moment. Be still. And know that God is God.