Tuesday, December 6, 2011
From the Inside Out
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (Matthew 7:24-27)
How are you doing with your holiday stress level? It's only the second week of the Advent Season, and I'm sure you are struggling with balance just as I am. There are all the demands that, while perennial, seem to catch us by surprise every year. There never seems to be enough time to do the cleaning, the baking, the card writing, the shopping, the entertaining and the wrapping. Christmas programs at school and church juggle the schedule along with any related parties. And as the children grow, the dynamics of the phase they are in brings something new to adjust to. Will their sensory issues be able to handle this years food, noise and clothing? Is Santa real, and how are we dealing with that? Are they self-regulating enough this year to get adequate sleep and control their excitement? Add a couple of appointments for doctors and therapy, and a parent of a child with special needs is beyond the tipping point!
How ironic that the second week of Advent is supposed to be focused on the theme of peace! Or is it? What if this really is the perfect time to confront that issue in our lives? What if that One who was born in the most chaotic of circumstances is the cure for our stress? What if our peace has little to do with what is happening outside of us and everything to do with what is in our core?
That's the Good News that the humble Christ child came to bring us, if only we will quiet ourselves enough to listen. Through the power of the Holy Spirit He sent to dwell within us, there is that "peace that surpasses all understanding." (Philippians 4:7) When we give God ourselves fully, when we obey Him in increasing measure, when we devour His word like a box of chocolate truffles, He can and will change us from the inside out. We will be like that house built on rock where life buffets against us, but doesn't destroy us. And we can still reflect the joy of Christmas in the midst of our challenges without having to pretend. When we know and trust that our faithful Father has it all handled, we can take a deep breath and know goodness in the storm.
Don't you want people to look at you and think, "I want what they have!"? You have the perfect platform to proclaim the peace and goodness of God. But you cannot give what you do not have to begin with. This Christmas season, realize that salvation isn't your Creator's only gift to you. Consume that heavenly peace He reserves for those who belong to Him. And watch your world change!
Prayer: My God, I know that it is humanly impossible to force myself to have peace in the midst of life's swirling storms. This Christmas, help me to actually open up and use the gift of peace which you left me by the power of the Holy Spirit when I invited you into my life. Do Your work in me as only You can do!