I’ve been asking the Lord to give me an uplifting Christmas message that would help you:

– quit trying to please everyone this year

– quit trying to be the perfect host

– quit buying so much

– quit running around like crazy

I asked him for a revelation that could be encapsulated in a simple story – a parable if you will – complete with pithy questions for further pondering. I tossed half a dozen false starts into the proverbial digital wastebasket. My mind was distracted by phone calls, the laundry, a dog who wanted to have her belly rubbed, and (ironically) the panic I was starting to feel about getting all of my Christmas stuff done. Then I checked my email:

ORDER NO LATER THAN 11:59PM PST FOR ITEMS TO ARRIVE BY CHRISTMAS

I clicked on the link and browsed through an array of beautiful items all waiting to find themselves under someone’s Christmas tree. My eyes lingered over a pair of diamond earrings. “I wonder if Jeff has purchased a Christmas present for me yet. I don’t need a new vacuum, but this Dyson looks so lightweight. Do you think that face oil could make my skin look younger? I’ve heard the Yamaha sound bars are really good. Do you suppose it would sound better than ours?”

Then visions of the latest credit card bill began to dance in my head, so I closed that web page by opening Facebook, and it went on from there.

After three hours passed (I kid you not) my focus returned to the article, I looked at Luke 5:15-16 to support my first point.

“But despite Jesus’ instructions, the report of his power spread even faster, and vast crowds came to hear him preach and to be healed of their diseases. But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.”

Like us Jesus faced distractions from God’s plan for him. He responded to the temptation by withdrawing to a solitary place to pray and seek God’s direction.

It sounded like a good idea, so in the quiet of my prayer closet, I bowed my head and repented for my lack of focus the Lord. I snuggled up to a Father whose love and grace know no bounds and talked to him. In the quiet warmth of that moment, he gently whispered in my ear, “If you have an agenda for me then your accomplishments will be limited by your own ideas:  far better, my child, to rest in me and trust me for the ideas. ‘Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!'” John 15:5, 11

So that is my simple message for you during this Advent season. The Joy to the World has spoken:  remain in him. Talk to him constantly. Listen to his response. Release your agenda to him this Christmas and relax. May you be overwhelmed by the amazing things God does through you and may your joy overflow.

Merry Christmas!