All the carefully laid plans begin to play out. It’s the first week of December, and our letters/cards have been mailed. Parties are planned. Invitations issued. Boxes of gifts are sitting in my office waiting for a trip to town to be mailed.
On Monday we began our Advent celebrations – and you can join us this year! We also decorated our house for Christmas. I’m a little behind on wrapping gifts, so our tree is still bare beneath the lowest branches, but we’ll catch up. It’s a small thing, really.
And this week in the Quillen house, we get to celebrate Dipping Day. On Saturday we’ll pull out all the candy centers, cookie dough, and cookies we prepared during October and dip, bake, and decorate to our heart’s content. It’ll be messy. It’ll be loud. And I *hope* it’ll be fun. (Seven kids and lots of sugar and chocolate… it could go either way!)
But the best thing about having so much done in advance is the ability to enjoy this season with the unexpected curve balls thrown into our path. December is shaping up a bit differently than I expected! This week we added basketball practice to an already full schedule and I found out I’m needed as the coach for my daughter’s cheer squad. I certainly hadn’t planned on that!
I like to Compose Christmas so I can focus on Christ. By planning ahead and distributing over several months all the busyness that seems to distract and overwhelm me, I clear a way to rest in Christ, to marvel at his gift, and to place my hope on the child in the manger who grew to save me from way more than a hectic and distracted December.
So, here’s where irony enters.
I have spent months planning and preparing our schedule and home so I could focus on the hope born at Christmas, and now I am tempted to place my hope in my schedule, plans, and effort. It’s so easy to (mis)place my hope in my effort instead of in Christ.
Yet the whole point of composing Christmas was so that I would be free from distraction and could abound in His hope. Romans 15:13 says,
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
Do you see that? God fills me with hope, joy and peace, not my planning. The power of the Holy Spirit gives me abundant hope, not my power to schedule things well. Peace comes from Christ, not my composition of Christmas.
Oh my heart is so easily deceived! I so easily exchange the peace I was seeking for my method of seeking peace. I can shift from being careful to protect my schedule so I can live a life of worship in December to worshipping my schedule. I begin to shift from serving the Creator to serving my creation (Romans 1:25).
But there is hope for me. And hope for you, if you, like me, are clinging a little too tightly to your plans, or taking pride in your effort, or marveling in the work of your hands. Christ came to give us hope. Christ came to wrest the idols from our hearts and free us from idolatry and slavery. Christ came to draw our hearts back to him when we stray to worshipping our efforts to love him instead of loving him.
I hope to enjoy the fruit of my labors during this crazy-busy time of year. And I plan to take some time this morning to commit my ways to the Lord, to refresh my mind and heart with the hope of Christ, to offer up my schedule and plans to Him. Isn’t that why we planned and worked so hard? Today I want to sit at Jesus’ feet and choose the good portion (Luke 10:41-42). I want to know his peace. I want to know him.
If you’ve been with me since July or September, won’t you join me in this, too?