Jump Start # 2975
Ecclesiastes 3:1 “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under Heaven.”
The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas seems to fly. Families are so busy. Special events. Visiting other family members. So much to do, that the fun and joy of the holidays can become stressful. You’d think with all of our technology we have today, that we would be more relaxed than ever. Our grandmas and great-grandmas couldn’t throw a load of laundry into the washer, fill the dishwasher up, program the Roomba and go off to other places. Not back then. They had to stay and ring out the clothes and hang them on a clothes line. Dishes were washed by hand. The room was swept by a broom or vacuum. We can do so much more. Shopping on-line, ordering food before we reach the store, banking via our phones, we’ve found ways to do things without literally being in a store. And, yet, here we are as busy, tired and stressed as ever. And Solomon’s words seem to haunt us. He says, “there is a time for every event under Heaven,” and we wonder about that. We keep telling ourselves that there simply isn’t enough time.
Here are some suggestions that might help:
First, learn to say “No.” You need to say this kindly to others. You can’t go everywhere. You can’t keep running. Your body needs rest. Interestingly, God built in the Jewish system a day of rest, and now in the New Testament age we live as if we never need that. Stay home. Put on some holiday movies. Leave your phone in another room. We also need to say “no,” to ourselves. You don’t have to make every cookie in the inventory of holiday cookies. For me this year is the battle with leaves. I’ve already spent more than three different days getting the leaves out and yet, my yard still needs more attention. It hit me the other night, I live with a woods behind my yard. I’m going to have leaves in my yard. I’ll get to it when I can.
Second, find time to think and pray. This is a great thing to do when you go to bed or just wake up. Get organized and get a plan. Run it through your mind. Put some prayers on that plan and then attack it. Being disorganized is not only a waste of time and energy, it leaves one feeling overwhelmed and defeated. Make lists. Put things in order. Before companies launch a new product lots of meetings and thoughts go into that decision. Before sports teams execute a play, they have talked about that play and practiced that over and over.
Third, remember that little ones get tired, bored easily and need time to rest and play. The little ones can’t keep up with your schedule and they will melt down first. When that happens, your stress level escalates. Keep that in mind as you hurry about this holiday season.
Fourth, don’t cut God short. Don’t skip Bible readings. Don’t rush through quiet times. Don’t skip a day because there is too much to do. That only sprinkles guilt upon your stress and makes you feel worse. Not everything will get done, but most won’t know that. Your house may not look like the cover of a magazine, but that’s ok. Someday, those little ones will be grown up and moved out. When they think back about the holiday times what do you want them to remember? Mom and dad shouting at each other? How stressed the parents were and how everyone had to walk on egg shells because of the tensions of getting everything done perfectly? Is that a great memory? How about the fun and the joy of being with mom and dad. How about the games you played together? How about the sing-a-longs? How about the trips to the grandparents?
In Solomon’s grand picture of life, we refer to as the seasons of life, ‘there is a time for everything.’ His list involves the big things in life, some of which we have no control over. We don’t decide when a death will take place. That’s not our call. And a death wrecks schedules and plans. And, death happens, even during the holiday period.
The Psalmist said to “Be still and know that I am God” (Ps 46:1). There is a difference between being still and being idle. The idle is in neutral because he has nothing to do or doesn’t want to do anything. Being still is a choice. It’s medicine for the body, soul and mind. I tend to think that worship is that way. For us preachers, it’s very busy with all the things we must do, but even in that, once the worship begins, the mind, the body, the heart settles into a sweet fellowship with the Lord. A tired soul can feel rested during worship. I don’t view worship as yet another thing on the list that has to be done today. Instead, it’s a choice. It’s good for me and it’s good for the Lord. And, that period of worship can shake things up on the inside and I can realize that I don’t have to do everything that was on my list. What is important is family, love and one another with the Lord.
When the Revelation writer mentions, “rest from their labors,” (Rev 14:13) it wasn’t holiday shopping and plans that he had in mind. The labors contextually was connected to what they were enduring. They were being faithful in the midst of an oppressive environment. There was a battle going on. There was a work that they were doing. This rest is connected not to Christmas but to the spiritual journey they were on.
Take a breath. You’ll be fine. Remember the big picture. Put a smile on your face and remember who you are and where you are headed…
Rests for the hurried soul—something we do need to think about in these times.