Prepare the way of the LORD in the wilderness;
make a straight highway for our God in the desert.
Isaiah 40:3 (NLT)
I spent the Friday after Thanksgiving putting away the Fall decorations and then pulling all the boxes of Christmas decorations into the kitchen. Christmas is my favorite holiday if we were judging by the number of boxes stored in the garage.
For years I collected Christmas trees from all over the world. I also have several nativity sets. This year, in an effort to simplify, I decided to use only the nativity sets and various angels that have worked their way into those boxes. (It’s funny how Mark always disappears into the casita when transition time begins.)
I purchased a 7 ½’ artificial tree the first year after we moved to Tucson. I put it up that first year but it has stayed in its bag since. This year, Mel called and we managed to get it transported up to the Bay area for them to enjoy. Fortunately, the lights twinkled brightly when she plugged it into the wall.
But I decided to get a little tree that I could manage. I missed seeing some of my favorite ornaments dangling from the branches and the special light that a tree brings to a room.
The house is now “dressed” in its holiday finery—ready for the big day. I’m prepared. But for what? A promise of something wonderful to come.
The children of Israel must have wondered what God had in mind as they wandered in the desert all those years. Was he going to rescue them? Isaiah promised them a future Messiah that would protect, restore, and love them. They trusted his word and the prediction was fulfilled in the birth of Jesus.
Today, we celebrated the first Sunday of Advent during the worship service with the lighting of the candle of Preparation. Take a few moments and read Isaiah 40:3-11. Spend time this week reflecting on the promise made to you, too. Are you trusting Him? Are you ready?
So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you. Deuteronomy 31:6 (NLT)
As I was getting ready for church, I had the TV on in the background listening with one ear to FOXNews. A couple of words caught my attention and I scurried into the bedroom to catch the segment on “Flat Daddies.”
Have you had the privilege of continuing the journey of “Flat Stanley?” If not, you might not have found the name ear-catching. I’ve received that big envelop a couple of times and enjoyed sending it on. According to their website:
The basic principle of The Flat Stanley Project is to connect your child with others by sending out “flat” visitors, created by the child, through the mail. Kids then talk about, track, and write about their flat character’s journey and adventures.
It’s a fun project for all. When I heard “Flat Daddies,” I was intrigued.
Their website reads: Flat Daddies and Flat Mommies are life-size photos of deployed service members provided to help children better cope with the separation they experience when a parent is away from home for long periods of time.
One of the mothers interviewed had Flat Daddy right beside her when she delivered her second child. It was especially meaningful because he lost his life on the battlefield never knowing he was going to have another child. Each child now has his own Flat Daddy in his bedroom and she mentioned that she hears her older son talking to him, on occasion.
Just like Flat Stanley, we are on a journey and at times, we may feel flat and deflated. I may not have a cardboard cutout of Him but I found myself talking a lot to my heavenly Daddy this week and reading His words back to me. I know He listens to me in the midst of my pain and panic. I particularly loved the part in today’s verse where it says that He will personally go ahead of me and never abandon me. What an encouragement!
Each day brings its challenges. As you head out the door, remember, “Be strong and courageous.” He’s right there with you.
Then he lay down and slept under the broom tree. But as he was sleeping, an angel touched him and told him, “Get up and eat!” He looked around and there beside his head was some bread baked on hot stones and a jar of water! So he ate and drank and lay down again. I Kings 19:5-6 (NLT)
In our various roles as wives and mothers, our schedules reflect times when life is crazy-busy and we go for weeks on end with no breaks. The big project has an end date but there is so much to do before we get there. Clutter spreads itself around the house, quick, on-the-go meals are standard fare, homework help is sandwiched between phone calls and computer work, tempers snap, and guilt weighs us down. Will we make it?
Then the day comes when it’s all over. DONE. Yes, there is a sense of relief but there is also a feeling of let-down. Even with the craziness, there was a sense of fulfillment and purpose. Now what do I do?
In the story of Elijah, a wonderful and challenging victory left the prophet feeling depressed and useless. Instead of God saying, “Hurray, Elijah. Let’s go do it again,” He carefully tucked him under a juniper tree and told him to take a nap. He didn’t criticize him or tell him to suck it up. No, He let him sleep, woke him with a home-cooked picnic, and then told him to take another nap. Finally, after he’d rested, eaten his fill, and regained some perspective, God gave him his next assignment.
So, what is the prescription for that adrenalin letdown? Take care of yourself. Your body is tired mentally, physically, and spiritually. Pushing yourself to the next challenge, without taking time to replenish and refill your body and soul, is a dangerous plan. The enemy is waiting to strike at your weak points and take you down the wrong path. Depression may be lurking, too.
We live in a world of options but that means you must choose. Stopping the rat race and resting is not glamorous after all the attention you have just received. With family around, it may seem impossible. However, we must if we hope to regain our footing and avoid depression or worse.
God promises to speak to us in a still, small voice. Hopefully, we are spending time with Him so we can hear it. But if life is out of control, He is not above using a giant two-by-four to get our attention. How many times do we find ourselves with a bad cold, strep, or flu after we stop pushing ourselves to get to the finish line? He will put the brakes on one way or another.
God was not done with Elijah and gave him a gift of time to get some much-needed rest and sustenance. We must do the same:
Take a nap.
Make a favorite sandwich and sit at the table to eat it.
Take another nap.
Spend quiet time in the Word with your Father.
Learn to say “no”.
Talk to a friend just because you want to.
Get a Starbucks and drink it in the cafe.
Take a walk noticing the change of colors.
I’ve found it doesn’t take long to get back to “normal” but it’s a must-do. Elijah obeyed God, accepted the gift of time, and was soon ready for the next adventure.
Time for a nap?