Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30
I could really use a good, ol’ German, candlelit “Silent Night,” right about now. But that is still over a week off...
I am perched at my writing desk. Around me are the fruit of my hands: one practices the piano, another wraps gifts, two others build a cardboard city maze for hamsters to explore, while still another sits on the floor in the doorway working through an editing project.
The sun streams in the wall of windows. On this cold day, its welcoming rays are like the star over Bethlehem, drawing adoring souls close. Heeding the call, they all came from the far reaches of our home to this one room; each seeking warmth and togetherness. Even the hamsters are not capable of withstanding its impact as they snooze in toy tractor wagons and perch lazily on shoulders.
With the sun’s warmth, comes the hum of humanity and its stewardship. I try to click eloquent musings and meaningful wisdom on the computer, but the interruptions are frequent. Many trains of thought slip out of the station of my mind never to be seen again, while the inner turmoil begins to boil under the impending pressure of a deadline.
“No wonder you are struggling, Mother! With that drab, ugly font, you can’t expect to be inspired! You must choose a font that is delightful to look upon while you write,” offers a child in helpful earnest when she sees my head in my hands, willing thoughts and concentration, but melting into a puddle of prayer, instead.
“When I write, I make the font really big so that it looks like I have written more,” offers another as he comes to my side and begins fiddling with the mousepad of my laptop. “Here, this will make it look fun! It is called Drop Cap.” The screen layout in front of me changes and I feel the body of a hamster being deposited into the hood of my sweatshirt.
My writer’s block continues, keeping me glued to my spot, while the day swirls on around me in playful bursts calling me to join in ...
“Mother, will you hold my hamster?” “I am having sardines, anyone want to join me?” “Will you take me shopping?” “Can I give you a foot massage?” “I would like to do a pilates workout, do you know where the DVD is kept?” “My neck is sore. Can I have a hug?” “Look at my muscles! Mother, squeeze them!” “I want to bake. What do you think about making brownies out of collagen? Maybe I could just eat the cocoa straight?” “Mother, do you still have my hamster?”
“Beep!” goes the washing machine from the basement, boasting above the tinkling piano keys of her accomplishments, drawing me away, once again, from mine.
This is not the time for sluggish progress! Life during the season of Advent doesn’t slow down until it is over! Once I am done with one project I must focus on another and another and another! I must make this a memorable time, a happy time, a time of great cheer... for them! It is all so, stinkin’, important and if I don’t do it, who will? I must...
I am striving with all my might, but the effect of my efforts is akin to a hamster running on its wheel: going at top speed, but with nothing to show for it.
"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
The breath sucks into my lungs sharply and I hang my head as the tears stream down, “Forgive me, Jesus.” I’ve been so preoccupied in making everything perfect for Him to come, that I lost sight of His invitation.
Giving myself permission to stick my head out of the swirling tornado of temporal pressures I have fallen into, I see the fruit of my hands all around me:
“Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates,” Proverbs 31:30.
What if I just stopped?
What if this year I cut from my list instead of adding to it? Would Christmas still happen if the tree never gets decorated or the cards go unsent?
What if I give myself, my time, and my focus to those Christ has given to me, instead of to tasks done in their name to manufacture their happiness? What if I gave them my imperfect presence, rather than the perfect present?
Christ promises that taking my cue from the shepherds, who quaked at the angel hosts’ visit that glorious, starry night, and seeking Him leads to what I am craving: a silent, holy night kind of rest for my soul. Christ is my heavenly peace and He has been here all along as I scurried about to prepare for Him! Dawning with redeeming grace at His birth, He already took care of it.
I don’t have to.
It is finished.