To-do lists litter my counter like crumbs on the floor after my daughter finishes a cookie. There are more laundry piles around this house than days of the week. The dishes overflow my sink begging me to take a minute and empty the dishwasher so that I can fill it back up again.
I’m not proud of it, but I’m considering getting the t-shirt: “I survived Advent 2018.”
I may have survived it, but I’m afraid in many ways I missed it. As I dream about December in November, I imagine my sweet little ones gathering around with hot chocolate and cuddling up to do family devotions – every day – throughout the season of Advent. I picture a beautiful tree with ornaments evenly distributed on every branch. I plan a picture for the Christmas card that is not only flattering to all of us, but also a photo-shoot that doesn’t end in tears for most of the participants. But, life.
Try as I may, every year the hurry and scurry of the season catches up with me. And, sadly, this year has been no different. Before I have time to prepare my heart (and house and gifts and Christmas cards), the celebration of the Christ child sneaks up on me. And, here we are. A week later. I’m sick – literally. I’m tired. And, I’ve missed the imagined December full of sweet moments and celebration.
And in enters a very pregnant mother and a father who yet has no idea what is coming. A world of chaos surrounds this young couple. People are racing around trying to get registered because some Roman official had sent out an order that everyone needed to go to their hometown to be counted. The streets are packed. The inns are overflowing. The markets have swollen out of their borders to accommodate all of the travelers. The journey for the young couple hadn’t been an easy one. Laboring on a donkey is not for the faint of heart. Consequently, they arrived in the City of Bethlehem later than they had hoped. And, without TripAdvisor.com, there was little hope of securing a room to stay in.
So, they cuddled up in the straw amidst the animals. And, into this messy, chaotic, striving and stress-filled world, a child was born. Around this little family, the world was restless and miserable. Busy and focused on the wrong thing, they missed the coming of the infant King.
Isaiah 9 tells us that this infant will be among other glorious titles, the Prince of Peace. The Hebrew word for peace is “Shalom” which carries with it a depth that we don’t find in the English translation. Shalom is a word that encompasses the idea of being whole, not lacking anything. It is a state of being that can only be found in Christ. Perfection. Completion. It is not based upon circumstance, but instead found in our submission to our Lord.
So, as I look around my much-neglected home – the uncompleted to-do lists, the crumbs, the laundry piles, and dirty dishes – I am humbled at the realization that this messy little world is exactly the same world into which my Lord and Savior jumped head-first, leaving behind all of the comforts of Heaven to find us in our mess. And, while I look forward with Hope to Advent 2019 being a bit less chaotic, I rest in the reality that Christ’s peace is not contingent upon my behavior. But instead, has been ushered into this world through an infant, and left with us by the Savior.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” –John 14:27