By Judy Brandon: Religion columnist
Is Christmas sometimes synonymous with the word “pressure” or is that just me? It is probably just me. Let me explain.
In the past I have always seemed to feel a pressure about the season to meet the deadline of Dec. 25. Store advertisements and great sales have tempted me to act on that special price in order to purchase just the right gift for those certain people.
Added to that, all the extra events that go along with Christmas have added to the pressure to scurry around and rush to meet the deadlines. Sometimes I would just get so caught up in the Christmas activity that I was worn out!
Long lines at the checkout counter have in the past caused me internal tension. Cars stacked several deep in turning lanes of the city streets of even Clovis have frustrated me because my planned route home did not go smoothly.
In the midst of all the hustle, we can still get the car’s oil changed in ten minutes in preparation for taking that Christmas trip. In an hour, we can make it to a store, purchase our gift, get it wrapped and mail the package. But in all this activity, we must hurry, hurry, hurry!
But I determined last Christmas that Christmas in 2009 is going to be different for me. I really realize what it is like to have those things that count long after Christmas is over and past. I have made a commitment to focus my mind and spirit on just “being still.”
The Bible is time-honored and its wisdom is appropriate for us today. God said to “be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10) Being still has great benefits.
I am so grateful that Mary was still long enough to recognize the angel as a messenger from God with great news about Jesus’ birth.
I am so grateful that Joseph did not abandon Mary when he found out she was pregnant but instead was still long enough to get direction from God.
I am so grateful that the shepherds on the hillside were still long enough to hear the message from the angels and then act upon it. Consequently, they found the baby Jesus with Mary and Joseph and then left to spread the good news of his birth.
I am so glad that the wise men were still long enough to recognize Herod’s evil motives, thereby changing their route back home and avoiding Herod altogether.
I am so thankful that Joseph was still long enough to discern that the dream he had was indeed a message from God to escape with his little family to Egypt, where Jesus would be protected from the evil intentions of Herod’s planned massacre.
I am so thankful that years ago I was still long enough to hear the voice of God and realize that I wanted to give my heart to Jesus.
It is only in being still that we acknowledge the One who is the basis of our whole existence — God! He created us, and he loves us! He knows more about us than we could ever know about ourselves. We have immediate access to him.
In filling our lives with duties of the Christmas season, we may find that most of the time, we are missing the one activity that would be the most helpful for our total well being. For in all of my involvement during the day, I seldom am just still. But it is in being still and hearing God that I find real peace and purpose for this holiday season.