Everything seems urgent at this time of year and expectations tell us all the going and doing is very important.
The calendar controls our time but we’re so overwhelmed to even realize this pressure is the pulse driving whether we keep up or stay ahead. ‘Rush’ repurposes peace into a chaotic Christmas story we tell around the tree through short tempers and careless thinking.
It’s a time to celebrate, but walking into a worship service even reminds me of work; people I haven’t had a breath to get back to. It’s been so long since our schedules have seen some blank spaces that plotting out this dreamy word peace feels like a burden.
We’re being robbed, my friend. The onslought of life’s pressures have started to dominate and define us.
Some of it isn’t even bad. We might be wrapped up in so many seemingly good things, like our jobs, the church, charities yet at the end of the day we still don’t have our peace and quiet.
It feels like we’re slaves here.
Enter Exodus. The second book in the bible. The Israelites were bossed around by taskmasters all day and night. They were slaves to the demands and saying ‘no’ wasn’t an option.
It’s as if this ancient, living Word just ripped a page out of my daily planner and planted the story near the beginning of the book because the Author knew someone who needed this kind of message didn’t have much time to dig any deeper… should even an hour in the day open up to get this far.
Back to the book, even though God sends Moses to free these people from the physical demands, their minds were stuck in a slave mentality. The Israelites didn’t know what it looked like to stop or pause from work.
God has sent a way to relieve us from the tension. We’re just not choosing it. If there’s a cancellation on our calendar, it becomes open season.
The thought of deliberately choosing rest around this time of year feels almost unthinkable – family is flying in or you’re flying out, kids have written out their wish lists, parties are being planned and friends are expecting you to be there – because it all lands on people who still think the way a slave thinks.
The enemy will tell you that sketching out even a half inch margin around this to-do list is impossible. When you decide to permanently mark peace into your plans, the enemy will use friends and family to jab at your choice, compare their life with yours and say that you’re selfish with your time.
Since when did other people determine your worth? Busyness has never been declared a badge of honor in the realms of what matters most. Working more will never earn you favor in the eyes of what’s really important.
So why is it so difficult to press pause on the pressure? Mostly because you’ve been bullied into thinking it’s up to you to protect your reputation. You’ve become motivated by the fear of failure so insecurity has you pushing harder to achieve ‘big’ things and impress other people.
You could be intimidated by the quiet places because it feels less important there, so you pick up the torch of self-reliance to accomplish something. May I suggest it could have something to do with your kids and being obedient to their beck and call?
Slaves don’t control the clock; the work controls them.
If your devoted time with God has been replaced over a period of time, you’ve diminished power in the present because you lost your allegiance to the one thing that’s most important.
Our culture continues to spin this merry-go-round of achievement, production, and results faster and faster, but the answer isn’t to keep up. No, the solution is to step off.
It is for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1)
The fear of what others will say or think about your ‘no’ is straight up from the enemy.
If you aren’t claiming your time, someone else will. There is a serious battle for your contentment, your peace, your rest, your health, even your ability to worship attentively. The enemy will use whatever leverage he can get a grasp on take away your freedom and satisfaction in Christ, your trust in God and your availability to move at the invitation of our Author’s perfectly timed will.
We are not here to be slaves to schedules. You don’t need to keep hustling. You’ve already received approval from the only One whose approval really matters. His value IS your value.
God doesn’t want something from you. He wants something for you. Your value is not in what you do but in who you are.
You deserve to live at your best in every area of life so start with focusing prayers on getting free from the pressure.
God will send the Spirit’s power to help you gain control of your day by creating quiet corners that anchor the intersection of chaos and God’s best.
Declare some boundaries based on your devotion to this place of peace and know that everything else will ultimately benefit by your clearer focus.
Surrendering your schedule to rest cultivates a calm spirit so that your words spring from a well filled with joy and love. Your walk will be guided by patience with people, instead strain and stress. Your body will wake up renewed and ready to start again tomorrow.
In your effort to practice more peace this year, you may not have presents for everyone under the tree. More mail may come in than cards going out. Friends might have to wait until January to see you again.
Sometimes it’s not what you carry in your hands that will have impact with people. It might be what’s in your heart that leaves an impression.
As I type out these final thoughts, the hair stylist is wrapping my hair up in foils because these are the very few silent moments I have left to write. I’ve struggled with being stretched during this season. My faithfulness to rest has been less than honorable.
My hope is to find this place of peace so that I may be fully present with loved ones in the following days. My prayer is to leave the season feeling more satisfied than any pretty paper or package could ever offer.