December 23, 2008
“You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.”
Psalm 16:11 (NASB)
Presents to buy. Presents to wrap. Groceries to buy. Parties to attend. People to see. Wishes to fill. So much to do, so little time! We might have begun the Christmas season with the intent of finding joy this year, yet lost our good intentions somewhere between our children’s case of the “gimmies” and the crowded parking lots at the mall. Where is the joy we sing about in all those Christmas carols? Where is the Christmas spirit we are supposed to have?
As our verse tells us today, it’s not in any of those things that fill our days this time of year. It’s not in the candy-streaked faces of our little children. It’s not in the guilt we feel that we can’t possibly see all the family we want to. It’s not even in those moments of giving or serving our families. We can’t manufacture joy, or create eternal pleasures, though we try so hard to. Oh, we might get glimpses of joy—but we won’t experience the fullness of joy unless we immerse ourselves in God’s presence.
You might be thinking, How can I do that? You haven’t seen my “to do” list!
Might I offer a suggestion? Tomorrow morning, set your alarm for fifteen minutes earlier. Just fifteen. Then turn to a psalm, or a chapter in one of your favorite books of the Bible. I love the richness of Isaiah, the encounters with Jesus in John, and the wisdom in Proverbs. Ask God to help you choose what you most need to hear from Him. Then get out a journal or spiral bound notebook and write out some concerns you are having, jot down a verse that meant something to you. This is yours, so there is no right or wrong way to do it!
Next, spend a few minutes praying, marking the beginning of a conversation that will go on throughout the day. Then go and begin your day, taking God’s presence with you. When stress mounts, ask Him for peace. When chaos reigns, ask Him for clarity. When anger boils, ask Him for gentleness.
I am not promising a perfect life will result. Nor am I promising instant change. What I am promising is that slowly but surely, as you build on this habit, your time with the Lord will increase out of desire for more, and your dependence on Him will too. This is not something you do out of guilt or obligation. It’s not something you do to be a “good Christian,” scanning the ceiling as you dutifully have your quiet time, hoping He sees you and pours out His blessings in return. Instead this is about experiencing what it means to have a “friend that sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24, NIV). It is about knowing the joy that is only found in His presence, because you carry it with you—at Christmas, and all through the year.
Dear Lord, Thank You for helping me realize that I can’t make joy happen this Christmas. Help me in the coming days to intentionally enter into Your presence, and help me find true joy when I do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
A Recipe for Christmas JOY (e-book) by Marybeth Whalen
Share your story about spending time with God. Visit Marybeth’s blog.
Spend some time today planning for your time with God tomorrow. Anticipate and prepare for it. Gather your Bible, your notebook, a pen, a candle, and any other supplies you might want to have. Have everything in one place, waiting for your date with God. You might even want to have a special tea or flavored coffee creamer waiting for you, to make your time with God even sweeter!
If you are already beginning your days with God, yet still feeling overwhelmed, have you spent time praying about it? Ask God to show you ways that you can experience His presence - even when the kids are crying and the bank account is strained. Jesus promised us that in this world, we would have trouble (John 16:33, NIV), but He also promised us that He would send a Comforter to be with us (John 14:16, KJV) Do you need to be comforted today? Ask God to supply this need, and trust Him to do it!
Psalm 89:15-16, “Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, O LORD. They rejoice in your name all day long; they exult in your righteousness.” (NIV)
Hosea 6:2, “After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence.” (NIV)
© 2008 by Marybeth Whalen. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
Matthews, NC 28105