The Reason for the Season| By Emily Lawson

I’m a procrastinator. Majorly! Doomed forever into a life of rushing and running ragged. 

Though usually much better in previous years, this last week, I’ve done ALL of my Christmas shopping (we buy for around forty people!) and put up the Christmas tree. Like I said, I’m a procrastinator! 

My mind has been on what this person would like, where this present needs to go, how much wrapping paper I need to get, do I have bows, do I have enough flour for cookies, what day is that happening? 

But when I took the time to read the story of Jesus’ birth recently, I realized something I had missed. 

I hadn’t taken the time to appreciate the meaning of the season. 

In previous years, I have been able to enjoy the week before Christmas. Seeing the lights, liking my tree, wrapping the gifts, baking cookies, and starting to think about the season and its actual meaning. 

Christ’s birth. The salvation plan beginning.

This past weekend, my church’s youth group had a Christmas play based on the Innkeeper’s perspective of the birth of Jesus, and all the regrets he had after that night. 

“And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.” Luke 2:7 (KJV)

A thirty minute play, and the moral of the story being that the world STILL makes no room for Jesus. 

We are rushing to get to work. We are rushing to get home. We are rushing to make time for friends, family, get togethers, birthday parties, and more. 

And, the world has forgotten that this life is about more than “going”. 

Think about it, they didn’t have ultrasounds and pregnancy apps when Mary was pregnant. She knew that pregnancy was about nine months and she was due soon, but they still had to go pay taxes. 

And the Bible says in Luke 2:6 that “while they were there, the days were accomplished”. Can you imagine the panic of finding some place to have your baby? And a first time mom, wanting everything to be perfect? The anxiety that must have been going through her as she had to resort to a manger to birth the SON OF GOD! That definitely was NOT in the birth plan she had made! 

However, I also know, that as soon as that baby was born, she knew that all was okay. She knew that it didn’t matter where he was born, and she knew exactly where her priorities were. She was saved by His presence. Stolen away from the anxiety, worry, and worldly needs and wants of the moment. 

Good news! This world can be also! 

Being in his presence is the best present of all this holiday season.

Let Him wash that anxiety of getting everything perfect for the holidays away, and let Him set your focus. His birth is the reason for the season, and everything else falls behind. 

Giving is a wonderful thing to do for Christmas each year, but let’s also each TAKE the time this holiday season to sit with Him and thank Him for the gift of His coming!

Being Still in the Midst of Anxiety| By Jasmine Beard

Heart pounding, thoughts going a mile a minute, scared, terrified for no apparent reason.

I was 18 when I had my last major panic attack. I was leaving college and was headed on my way home when I was hit with sheer panic and confusion. It may have been 8 years ago, but I still remember my thoughts directly after the incident. I thought:

“what’s wrong with me?”

“What is this?”

“Will it happen again?”

“What if something really bad happens when/if it happens again?”

If you cannot tell, I was a bit of a worrier at that age, and if I am not careful, I can still go into a cycle of worrying, fear and eventual panic attacks. I like order, plans, and control, but life is simply not predictable.

Honestly, anxiety makes sense in our world because of the sheer pressure we put on ourselves and on other people. My days are filled with ever ending lists, juggling jobs, ministry, bills, starting a non-profit organization, trying to maintain a normal social life for a 20-something  year-old woman, and much much more, but I will spare you.

On top of all of our ever growing to-do lists, throw in unplanned life happenings, and it can turn some of us into the biggest worrywarts and anxiety-ridden folks. I cannot tell you the amount of acquaintances, coworkers, friends, and relatives I know who battle anxiety on a regular if not on a daily basis.

One day recently in the midst of my ever growing lists and unforeseen situations, I heard the Holy Spirit whispering to my heart for a slower pace and for a season of rest.

If you are anything like me, you cringe when you hear that word. I cringe not because I do not want to rest (because trust me, I really do, like really.) But my question was, how?!

How was I supposed to rest when my world was spinning? That’s when Psalms 46:10 began to ring in my ear, it says:

“Be still and know that I am God…” Psalms 46:10 (ESV)

I have always loved this passage of scripture, but up until recently, I have never dug deep into the meaning of this.

Most of us have heard this scripture before. Maybe when you read it you picture yourself waiting quietly and expectantly waiting for a whisper from Heaven. Although that is not a bad thing, when we dig deeper into this scripture we learn that the Hebrew root of be still is not “to be quiet”, but rather “to let go”.

This may sound crazy if you are a planner, a doer, and maybe even a worrier like me. Even with knowing scriptures like “who has ever added a day to their life by worrying? (Matthew 6:27)”, I still find that worry can be my initial reaction instead of faith.

Maybe you feel like that today. You worry about the big stuff and even the little things that maybe do not matter as much. I want to encourage you to let go of your anxieties and worries and place them into the hands of your Heavenly Father.

It is all little stuff to Him and fails in comparison to how BIG our God is.

So let’s position in our hearts to be still and to know…..

To know that God is making a way for that light bill to be payed.

To know God is making a way for your baby to be healed.

To know God is making a way for you to get that raise at work.

To know that God is making a way for YOU.

He is making a way that allows you to let go of every anxiety, worry, and pain, and for you to trust Him at His word that “He will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)

Remember that God is walking through every step of life with you holding your hand, longing to carry your burdens and guide your every step. Let go of the pressure you place on yourself. You are not called to carry the weight of your burdens one little bit. Just let go and know that God is trustworthy and faithful to work all of our anxieties out all on His own if we just trust Him.

“Many put their hope in chariots, others in horses, but we place our trust in the name of the Eternal One, our True God.” Psalms 20:7 (Voice)