If I had one Christmas wish, it would be to bottle up my four-year old’s giggles and keep it forever. It’s a rolling laughter, infecting everyone close with joy and bringing an onslaught of hiccups in the aftermath. Tonight, the car was dark, so I couldn’t see her face, but I didn’t need any light to know that her dimples were in full view. We were driving through our local park viewing the Christmas light display and for whatever reason, she found every illuminated character absolutely hilarious.
There’s nothing more magical than experiencing the Christmas season through your child’s eyes. Nothing can compare to the ecstatic shrieks when Savannah saw Santa and the way she tries so hard to pick up all her toys and be extra nice to her sister just to stay on the “nice list”. We drink hot chocolate and marshmallows until our tummies protest and our tree has become a strobe light ever since the toddler found the button that turns it on and off. We’ve made our own popsicle ornaments and sang songs about baby Jesus in the manger. It may sound cliché, but it truly is the best time of the year.
However in the midst of all the memory making I have found myself burdened to do ALL.THE.THINGS. The to-do list never ends. Presents to buy. Lists to write. Desserts to make. Cards to send out. Gifts to wrap. Stockings to hang. Gingerbread houses to decorate. Caroling. Family photos. Christmas Parties. Advent Calendars. There’s only two more weeks until Christmas and there’s so much to DO! Should we stay home or travel on Christmas? Give them only what they need or spoil them rotten on Christmas morning? Are we focusing too much on Santa and not enough on Jesus? And then, all it takes is one quick scroll through social media to be reminded of all the seasonal things we haven’t done yet that everyone else seems to be doing.
Really, just typing all this out has elevated my blood pressure and brought a tightness to my chest. And I feel this overwhelming burden to facilitate the very BEST Christmas for my daughters, because they deserve it.
But tonight, instead of wrapping more gifts or packing for the upcoming trip or going over what still needs to be done, I found myself drawn to the quiet. The Holy Spirit was beckoning. And so, I followed. And in the silence, I was reminded of my Savior’s words from so long ago.
“Come unto me…” Come away from the busyness. Away from the expectations. Away from the pressure. Away from the stress. Away from the overwhelming strain to be everything and buy everything and do everything. Spurgeon says that “come” was Jesus’ favorite word. He bids us all to come and drives none of us away.
“Come unto me all you who are weary and heavy burdened…” When He originally spoke those words, He was talking with group of very religious people who spent their whole beings constantly trying to follow all the rules and be good enough for God. And yet their efforts were as futile as my daughter’s attempts to stay on the nice list. No matter how hard she tries, she can’t help but occasionally revert back to her 4-year-old ways. Trying to be “good enough” is simply…exhausting. And Jesus isn’t beckoning those perfect people, because they don’t exist. Instead, He is inviting those of us who are honest enough to admit that as hard as we try…we will simply never quite measure up. He wants the screw ups and the misfits. The ones who are just not quite good enough.
But, what I love most about this invitation is that I don’t believe it only applies to those who are exhausted spiritually. I think it applies to any of us who are weary. The single moms who are physically exhausted from working extra shifts to provide for their children. To the brand-new mom who wonders if she’ll ever sleep again. He invites those who are mentally weary – the student athletes who are studying for finals, hoping to make the grade to keep themselves eligible. He invites those who are emotionally exhausted from preparing to be around relatives who never seem to get along. Or to those who are experiencing a very different kind of Christmas after the loss of a loved one. And tonight, I find Him whispering an invitation to me, a simple mom who feels burdened to give her family the very best Christmas.
Spurgeon writes, “laborers and loaded ones constitute the great mass of mankind—and the Lord Jesus invites them all without exception—high or low, learned or illiterate, moral or depraved, old or young”. Do you see that no one is excluded?
“Come unto me all you who are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you REST.” During this busy, stressful season, there could be no greater gift than that of rest. Rest that penetrates to the deepest level of our being. A rest that brings peace. A peace that requires us to do absolutely nothing but accept His gentle invitation.
Are you, like me, overwhelmed, burdened or just tired? Your Savior is beckoning you to come into His arms where the yoke is easy and the burden is light. May we remember that the very first Christmas was a quiet one and very few stopped long enough to even recognize that it had arrived. Tonight, I will remember what Christmas is really all about and silence all the things coaxing my attention from the true Prince of Peace.