Last week my wife and I were discussing a potential Christmas gift for our kids. We found it for a good price. It was something that we knew both of our kids would enjoy. It seemed like a great idea until Stephanie asked the question,
Where are we going to put that?
I expect that for many this is a familiar question. You have experienced the excitement of possibly adding something you think will be wonderful to your home or another aspect of your life only to find yourself deflated by the recognition of the space, the time, or the energy that new thing will require.
In his book Soul Keeping, John Ortberg observes,
We mistake our clutter for life.
I will be the first to confess that this thought stings a bit. I know that in my life this is mistake I often make.
We see that more easily seen in our outer world but it is also a dynamic of our inner life.
Stephanie and I can look around the house and see that we lack the space necessary for a potential addition to our home. It is much harder to see the crowdedness within ourselves.
In that same book, Ortberg quotes the late Dallas Willard who described the danger of a “disordered” inner life in this way,
Hurry is the great enemy of the spiritual life in our day.
When Ortberg asked Dallas what one needed to do in order to stay spiritually healthy, he said,
You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.
That one stings too, doesn’t it? How in the world does one go about doing that especially in a holiday season when every day seems to be completely filled with hurried days?
In this great season of the year we sing,
“Let every heart prepare him room…”
But how do we do that?
Well, you shouldn’t be surprised to hear that I don’t have all the answers, but here are just a few thoughts on how we might create space to receive what God desires to give us in the weeks to come.
- Sit down and take a deep breathe. We enslave ourselves to the lie that, “I don’t have a minute to spare!” That is not true. Fight that lie. Sit down and close your eyes. Be still. Let your heart have some rest. You need it more than you know.
- Ask why. Throughout your day challenge yourself to remember why you are doing what you are doing. One expression of that might be that while shopping for a gift for someone, you intentionally direct your thoughts towards that person. Think about why you want to bless them and what that person means to you. Think about what needs they have in their life right now. Perhaps your shopping trip will become exercise in praying for others you treasure in your life.
- Be present wherever you are. Practice what Jesus said. “Don’t worry. Remember that your Father in heaven loves you. Tomorrow will worry about itself.” For more, read Matthew 6:25-34. The next thing can wait. Put down your phone. Better yet, leave it at home or in your car. Look up. Make eye contact. Listen. See the person, see the gift standing right in front of you.
- Go hunting for opportunities to bless. The person working the check out line, the server who brings your meal, the person next to you in line, the co-worker who is also trying to finish out their year well… the list could go on an on. In the coming weeks we will all have thousands of opportunities to bless those around us, and in a season of hurry, the bar is really low! Smile! Say Merry Christmas! Say Thank You! Leave a bigger tip!
In my heart I know that the bottom line is this.
Hurry isn’t real.
Instead, the hard truth I frequently have to force myself to face is that hurry is something that I create. It is a posture of my heart created by my fear, magnified by my worry and my tendency to feast on falsehood rather than the truth.
And every day… every… single… day…
God has given me the gift of being able to choose whether the fear that leads to hurry or the faith that produces hope will be sitting in the driver seat of my life.