“A voice cries out: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.’” (Isaiah 40:3)
The Christian season of Advent (the four weeks leading up to Christmas Day) is often called a season of preparation. Not only are we preparing for the holiday of Christmas physically (with decorations, Christmas cards, shopping, parties, etc.) but also spiritually (by looking within ourselves for how God wants us to grow in our love towards Him and others).
With that in mind, a number of years ago I read an article detailing several “travel tips” that can help us spiritually “prepare” for our “journey” through Advent:
1) PACK LIGHTLY: One of the indicators that our annual Christmas buying neurosis has gone wrong is this idea that those who give the most, and get the most, matter the most. Such mistaken reasoning leads us to teach our children that Christmas is the annual bash we put on for ourselves, all the while trying to believe Bethlehem’s boy child is the “reason for the season.” …But this myth can’t be disguised forever. This year, why not pack lightly? Rather than “shopping til you drop,” drop to your knees and ask the One Who Comes what he would have you do to make ready HIS coming.
2) WALK SLOWLY: Am I the only person who notices how rushed we get the closer “it” gets? Was it only a few weeks ago that we started seeing signs saying “only 44 more days”? Slow down. Take time to sip cider with your mate. Hug your kids. Tell them the Advent-Christmas story and then live the story before them. Refuse to sing Silent Night from a noisy heart. Simply put, make the powerful emotions of these days your servants, not your master.
3) LISTEN CAREFULLY: Someone you love very much is talking, saying something really important, maybe even life-changing. Listen carefully and, who knows, you may hear the night wind speak to the little lamb saying “a child is born.” I can’t prove it, much less illustrate it, but I’m almost certain that most of us on the journey miss half the joy because we’re too busy talking; the sound of our own importance has drowned out the promise of “I am coming soon.”
4) LOOK WISTFULLY: Where, you ask, should I look? My best advice is: none of the obvious places. Those who traffic in seasonal things know what easy prey most of us are. “Get them in the stores, turn on the music and lights, plop the man dressed in red in the middle of it all and, bingo, it’s Christmas.” But the truth is that only those who look wistfully beyond what IS to the One who COMES really experience the mystery and miracle of Advent. Why? Because Advent is a journey we take into the reality of the journey God made in Christ. That journey, which included stops at such places as a stable, a hillside, a cross, and an empty tomb, had one purpose: to love the likes of you and me back to the God who created us.
So, journey on, fully aware that at destination’s end is the one who loves you and gave himself for you. “Even so, come Lord Jesus!”
[--Shared by Dr. Timothy Owings in an editorial in The Augusta
Chronicle newspaper (August, GA), December 1997]
As we continue to prepare for Christmas this Advent season, I invite you to allow these “tips” to become a reality in your life, as I seek to have them do in my own! Remember, God loves you and I do, too!