The month of December is a paradox. It is a month where we expect to experience the most amount of love, joy, peace, togetherness, giving, magic, and wonder; all while we participate in chaotic amounts of planning, spending, shopping, decorating, baking, entertaining, and every other kind of stress. December ushers into our spirits a heaviness that isn’t lifted until all the expectations in our head, of how to make Christmas the most wonderful/special/memorable/joyous/happy time, is met. We have a pretty specific idea, that’s very unique to each of us, of what it will take to experience the magic and we work like dogs to achieve it.
However, more often than not, we are met with feelings of disappointment that the reality didn’t measure up to our expectations, and we place the blame directly on our shoulders. “Because I did this” or “didn’t spend that” is why I’m experiencing this disappointment and we make sure to add it to the list of “have to’s” for next year.
But friend, I found the antidote! The elixir for our December soul sickness! God lead me to the head space, or better, His perspective that is desperately needed for the craziness that this month brings. It’s simple really, no new revelation. But walking through this season in the knowledge of it is having a profound effect on me. I found it in Psalm 73:28…
But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.
I read these words a few weeks ago while studying this Psalm and it gripped me. Something about it struck a chord so I underlined it and wrote it in my journal, but not yet fully grasping what the Spirit was trying to communicate. For several mornings after that initial read-through I went right back to “But for me it is good to be near God”. My spirit felt drawn to these incredibly simple words. Something settled inside of me every time I read it, almost like my spirit would respond with an “Amen”. This phrase has started permeating my days as I try to check things off of my December list…
Christmas shopping for family – But for me it is good to be near God
Making travel plans – But for me it is good to be near God
Trying to stay in the budget – But for me it is good to be near God
Fighting sickness – But for me it is good to be near God
Any time I start to feel anxiety or pressure building, my heart is being drawn back to what I’m calling the true antidote to this culture of Christmas craziness — being near to God. My initial thoughts about what the Spirit was trying to teach me with this phrase was that I had to sacrifice one for the other. That being near to God meant I had to distance myself from all the items on my list causing the craziness. But this didn’t seem right.
I finally realized that Jesus wasn’t encouraging me to drop all of the traditions of Christmas that create the craziness as much as He was encouraging me to invite Him into every part it. To be near to God in the moments of planning, shopping, spending, decorating and partying. For me, it is good to be near God, so we can walk through it together. So He can give me wisdom and discernment about giving my kids what is good for them versus just what they want. So we can decorate and bake cookies with an intention of bringing all of these peripheral traditions back to the true heart of Christmas. The main event on the kingdom calendar: Jesus’ arrival to earth and the beginning of our rescue.
This inheritance of ours as sons and daughters of God to be near to Him is truly a gift. Everyday He wraps up our ability to be near Him, to be in His presence, as the greatest gift to our soul. Our access to God was made possible through Jesus Christ, and it is by His blood that we who once were far off have been brought near (Eph 2:13). Think about that–we once were far off, separated from His presence, hopelessly wandering through life. BUT NOW, because of our faith in Jesus we have been brought near to our heavenly Father. This is our inheritance but we have to remember it is ours for today!
This is the antidote for the December crazy, the December loneliness, the December hopelessness…to be near to God. I guarantee you the enemy isn’t going to try to convince us to stop celebrating Christmas. He knows that would be futile. But he will do everything possible to get us so tied up and distracted with all our expectations for how to achieve Christmas magic that we miss the very thing Jesus came for — to bring us near to God.
So, I encourage you and me today, that as we move forward in the busyness that these next few weeks will bring, that we do it all while simultaneously being near to God. Fully assured that as we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us. (James 4:8) In every gift purchased, every Christmas party attended, every cookie baked, and every family gathering, we’ll do it in the presence of Jesus. This is the magic and wonder of Christmas! The One whose birth we celebrate eagerly awaits our invitation to include Him in all the details of His birthday celebration. It is only His presence that will gift us peace in the midst of the crazy, abundant life in the midst of meager finances, and hope in the midst of a hurting soul.
As we anticipate and prepare for a magical Christmas morning, let’s open the gift of being near to God every day. After all, contrary to every commercial and social media marketing tool, it is actually in His presence where we find fullness of Joy! (Psalm 16:11)