This Year’s Christmas Reflection: REST

A friend asked me (and three other women) to share for 5 minutes at a local Christmas event on what God was teaching us during this Advent season.  The theme for the evening was Isaiah 9:6 and I chose to talk about Jesus as my “Wonderful Counselor.”  We had the pleasure of sharing in between beautiful worship led by Hilary and Kate.  It was a remarkable evening.

This time last year, I was VERY pregnant with my 4th child who was born December 28th.  We named our Christmas baby Karis Joy.  She is a true delight and we have all enjoyed watching her grow.  But God has been teaching me a lot through her, particularly in the area of REST.

Kids are notorious for wanting to do anything but sleep.  Quiet times are seen as torture!  And Karis is no exception.  If there is something to busy herself with or any people within a 30 foot radius, she will postpone a nap for hours.  She is restless and always looking for the next thing to distract her.

Unfortunately, God has whispered to me that I am the same way.  I honestly don’t like to go to sleep because it’s boring!  Once I finally have time to myself (after the kids go to bed) I want to stay awake and read or catch up on tasks or call a friend or escape with a lame TV show.  It even takes major discipline for me to spend my short, solo walk back from dropping my son off at school, to try to soak in God’s creation around me instead of texting a message or checking my calendar for what’s next.  I struggle with filling my time and spirit with more stuff, instead of unpacking it to make space for God to speak.

And I’m sure many of us can attest to the restlessness of this season.  Our lives are filled with a lot of good things (parties, hospitality, gifts, decorating, baking, etc.), but the overabundance can still be stressful.  Many of us are slaves to obligations and commitments that we may need to rethink.  And some of us feel the emotional weight of loss and loneliness that we associate with this season.

But there is good news for all of us!  Our Wonderful Counselor wisely knows what is best for us and with great compassion urges us to choose the rest that He created for us.

And I have seen this in the times when my sweet baby Karis immediately embraces the rest that her growing body needs.  Sometimes I can put her down in the little pack-n-play, cover her with a cozy blanket and she will tune out everything around her, stick that thumb in her mouth, and suck her way to nocturnal bliss!  It’s precious.

I want to be more like this – to eagerly welcome rest!  I started reading a wonderful book called The Good and Beautiful God by James Bryan Smith, and he challenges his readers in the first few chapters to practice the disciplines of sleep, rest, and silence.  He sees it as an act of surrender, a declaration of trust.  And I’m starting to view it as a time for me to not just submit to rest, but to actually look forward to it as a time where I can release the burdens and receive from my Father in Heaven!  St. Augustin said it best:  “Our hearts are restless until they rest in God.”

And have you ever wondered why God would send Jesus into the world as a baby?  Jesus could have materialized on earth at age 30 and hit the ground running.  But I love that he was birthed into this world just like my sweet baby Karis and promptly began his ministry by sleeping 18 hours a day!  I guess if God is not in a rush to get His stuff done, perhaps we don’t need to be either…

Taking on our humanity, meant He needed to rest like we need to rest.  And he continued a restful posture throughout his life:  seeking solitude in between miracles, sleeping in the middle of a storm, and responding with silence to false accusations.  Our Wonderful Counselor prescribed even “spiritual naps” for Himself.

Will you join me in seeking the REST in this Advent season?  Let’s fight the temptation to spend too much frantic time decking the halls, baking figgy puddings, and dashing through the malls.  Instead, may we take our Wonderful Counselor’s free and healing advice – to honor the Sabbath, to exchange weariness for rest, and to set our sights toward the heavenly rest that is to come when He returns.

May we listen in on the Silent Night this year.

May we rest beside the weary road to hear the angels sing.

And may we, like precious baby Jesus, sleep in heavenly peace.

How have you experienced rest this season?

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