Tell me this. When was the last time you left a space between one thing and the next?
Life likes to stack everything up on top of itself. The list of events and to-dos and meetings and commitments get piled high, one thing following the next, nipping at your heels, nagging you to keep moving forward, onward, ahead. We stuff our plans and agendas into the cracks and crevices of this towering stack of things, filling every break, closing all gaps, until we feel stifled and suffocated, the very air in our lungs squeezed out as still we press on.
Tell me this. Is there a way to live our days with space? Is there a way I can stop cramming too many things into tight allotments of time? Is there a way I could get to the day without every last drop of breath and life and energy being drained out of me?
It seems absurd, but the worst time for all this stuff stacking is Christmastime.
The minute Thanksgiving is over we race out to find the best Black Friday deals and Christmas trees. The schools jump into full swing for the holiday season, as if all the activity and bustling around will keep the kids learning and thriving and forgetting that all they want to do is curl up on the couch and watch Netflix. We have concerts and gigs and showcases and conferences and trainings. Every day I pick up two bright-eyed elementary kids from school who want to snuggle on the couch and pass the football in the gray afternoons but we sit down to drill spelling words and study for tests. And if all this normal frenzy wasn’t enough we add Christmas parties and secret Santa (my husband has THIRTY-NINE presents to buy for every single one of the staff at his middle school. I wish I was joking.) and White Elephant presents to collect, and thoughtful gifts for our FIFTEEN IMMEDIATE family members? We divvy our all-too-short breaks across two sets of parents and siblings, attempting to having meaningful family time as well as recover a busy semester while driving across the state and hopping on airplanes. We line our agendas with a plethora of festive events to help us get in the Christmas spirit, all the while missing the real-life Spirit of Christmas.
Mary and Joseph wandered from inn to inn, knocking on doors, begging for space for their child to be born. I can’t help but think about all the people who shut them out, who shut Jesus out. The saddest thing I could imagine is the Messiah coming to my front door and refusing him a room.
Surely I don’t have to spell out how the refusal by inn keepers two thousand years ago parallels our lives today.
This year the Christmas season is longer than normal. Thanksgiving came early, Christmas is on a Monday, and we have this whole blessed week of pre-advent, pre-December days inserted between all the frenzy. A gap tucked between all the stacks. A brief halt in the midst of all the forward motion. A chance to sit down in front of the Christmas tree and look at the lights. A moment to light a candle and sit in stillness as light flickers against the darkness. An opportunity to take that deep breath you’ve needed so desperately. To actually listen to a song, to sit with the Word of God and let it slowly sink into the fiber of your being, to amble through the festively decorated streets, to slow to a stop when you see something beautiful, to meet someone’s eyes and offer a genuine smile, to go to bed before you’re tired and lie silent, blinking in the darkness.
Tell me this. Please say you’ll keep it a gap and not stuff more things into it?
We are a people who see emptiness as a problem. Close the gap. Fill in that space. Patch those holes. Everything’s running like clockwork is the highest compliment you could offer someone. We want things to keep things ticking along, running seamlessly without a hitch.
Tell me this. What if the gaps were meant to save us and not be filled in?
Maybe its time to dismantle our tower of things a little. As we hang shiny bulbs and twinkly lights maybe we can take a few other things off the list. Like the need to always be doing something productive. Like the urgency to keep our life clicking along. Like the pressure to stay bound to our minute-by-minute agenda we’ve chained ourselves to.
If I sit quietly enough I can hear the seconds audibly pass me by. But just because there is time doesn’t mean it must be filled.
Let every heart prepare him room.
The hand on the clock ticks forward, but I stay still.
Let earth receive her king.
When he knocks I will have space.
Joy to the world, the Lord has come.
Ways to create space this week
Verse: Jeremiah 29:13
Playlist: December Instrumental
Advent Reading: The Greatest Gift
Sermon: Jesus Sitting Down
I have weekly posts planned for this month in hopes to offer you some gaps for your your December. Click here to have them sent directly to your inbox.