"Finding Peace in the Chaos of Christmas"
"You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you."
Isaiah 26:3 (NIV)
Peace is a word that gets thrown around a lot at Christmas. It’s on cards, decorations and sometimes even lit up in bright lights.
It’s a word that seems to stir a longing in all of us, yet it also seems hard to come by — especially at Christmas. I mean, seriously … there’s a house to decorate, gifts to buy, meals to cook, relatives to connect with and loads of events to attend. How on earth are we expected to find peace in the midst of the extreme hubbub?
There was one Christmas in particular when I had to reevaluate and seek God for a change in my heart to establish peace in my heart and home.
We all started well — my hubs, our two boys and me — peaceful and focused as we decorated early in December. Christmas music played in the background. We sipped egg nog from the red glass teacups I snagged at a tag sale and boxes of decorations from the attic lined the walls.
But it started to go downhill over Christmas tree lights. A squabble erupted over a tangled string of bulbs. Then someone turned on the football game, and the sound of the TV clashed with the music from the stereo. Instead of sharing lovely stories of the ornaments’ histories as we hung each one, my boys began to make fun of the 70s-style bobbles from my childhood. Our peaceful tradition of tree-trimming fell apart faster than you could say, "Mama’s in a snit."
Maybe they just got distracted or maybe it was the maternal growls and snarls that drove them away, but suddenly I found myself sitting alone on the floor in front of the tree. I furiously gave the tree a yank to position it for another ornament, and … TIMBER! The tree fell on me and drove a metal rod from one of the artificial branches into my arm.
That’s when it happened. Out of my mouth popped some of the overflow of a peace-deprived heart — a big fat four-letter word … which brought my family back into the room.
To this day, there is one favorite Christmas story at my house. It’s not The Gift of the Magi or The Polar Express. Not even How the Grinch Stole Christmas makes the cut. Our family’s favorite story is titled, The Day Mom Cussed When the Christmas Tree Fell on Her.
I’m not proud of this story. As Scripture says, "For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of" (Luke 6:45b, NIV). My outburst revealed what was in my heart -- overload, frustration and anger. I’d love to blame the stressful circumstances, but the truth is there was something missing inside of me.
Consider this: The circumstances of the first Christmas were very stressful, too. There was an unmarried, pregnant teenager. There was a scared but faithful fiancé. There was no room in the inn. There were smelly animals and scratchy straw. There was an unidentified star in the sky.
Yet God gave the gift of prevailing peace in that story in the same way He longs to give our hearts the gift of peace. How did Mary and Joseph overcome the chaos of their circumstances and embrace peace instead? They implemented the truth in today’s key verse. Their trust in God made them steadfast. Just listen to how they responded when they were first given the startling and stressful news of being parents to the Messiah:
Mary said, "My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior," (Luke 1:46-47, NIV).
Joseph put aside his plans to divorce Mary quietly, and per God’s instructions, took her as his wife.
Perfect peace isn’t dependent on circumstances. It comes from a steadfast, trusting heart. Let’s start the Christmas season by intentionally growing our steadfastness by focusing our trust on God who is faithful. The resulting peace will point to the Savior we’re celebrating!
Lord, I set my heart on You. You are trustworthy, faithful and the Giver of the gift of peace. Please fill me this Christmas season. As others see Your peace in me, let them recognize You as Savior. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
John 14:27, "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." (NIV)