I remember one year when I hardly looked up from October 1 to December 31. October was a month of birthdays, anniversaries, and a wedding. In November we had a family reunion at our home for Thanksgiving followed by a weekend of sightseeing for out-of-town visitors. The next week began my husband’s busiest retail season of the year. Then there were choir practices, holiday parties, the children’s play, the family advent workshop, holiday gift swaps, and Christmas cookie exchanges.
I was spent by the time we took down our Christmas tree and ushered in the new year with a cup of hot cider. I wished I were a bear so I could hibernate for the rest of the winter! The next year I decided I would make it a season for rejoicing and resting. Here’s what I found in Scripture to support our need to take a break from the hustle and bustle.
REST from burdens.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Mt. 11:28 NIV)
What better time to respond to this call than during the Christmas season. Merchants don’t want you to rest. They want you to buy their goods and services. Bankers don’t want you to rest. They want to loan you money so they can charge you interest. Friends don’t offer to give you rest. They want you to come to their party or dinner or serve on a committee at church or at work. And your children and spouse? Well, they may sympathize but do they want you to rest? Not really. If you do, who’ll prepare the meals and shop for gifts, organize the family get-together, and write the checks when the bills arrive?
Only the Lord wants you to rest. When you hear his call, put down whatever you’re doing. It’ll be there when you return. Retreat from your burdens. Relax and refresh yourself.
REST from people.
“‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest'” (Mark 6:31 NIV).
My husband walked through the front door, tossed his jacket and keys on the chair in the hallway and let out a big sigh. “I’ve had enough of people,” he said, obviously spent after a long day behind the customer service counter at the store where he worked. “This is supposed to be a happy time of year. But people are impatient, angry, in a hurry. I’ll be glad when it’s over.”
Some relaxing music, a few moments of prayer together, and a good night’s sleep helped my husband come back to normal. There are times when we absolutely must be alone–away from the noise and the bustle. Even Jesus took time to rest from the crowds.
REST in the Lord.
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty” (Ps. 91:1).
Those who trust in the Lord will experience his protection. The God of the universe is telling us, his children, that he will protect us, that there is rest for us in the shadow of the Almighty. If we seek him first, build our lives in and through him, and put him above everything else––even above family, our job, church, our civic duty, celebrations, we will never have to worry or fear.
How could we turn down such an invitation? God is our dwelling place and our plane of refuge and rest. Retreat to him often during this stressful season and allow him to refresh your spirit, renew your mind, and refuel your body. I’m going to do the same. Then we can participate in the holidays fully alert and able to share the good news of the birth of Jesus Christ.