Wednesday, November 26, 2008

An Encounter

I was at Target the other night, picking up a few Christmas gifts to deliver to family over our Thanksgiving break. The girls and I were taking our time wandering the toy aisles; seeing what there was, pushing buttons and giggling lots. That's when we saw her. She looked like a very busy mom, bustling through with her cart loaded and a list longer than my arm. She had her bluetooth in her ear and seemed rushed and stressed. She stopped close to us to look at a toy cash register and commented to me how this one was better than the one on the next aisle, how it's on her son's Christmas list. She said, "That's what he wants. I just want it to be over."

With that she sped off, leaving me overcome by two feelings: sadness and exhaustion. The Christmas season hasn't even begun and she's ready to be done with it. It is so easy to miss it, isn't it? To miss the heart of Christmas because we are distracted by all the things that come along with the season, things that God never intended as we celebrate the birth of his son.

Matthew 11:28-30 gives us an invitation. It says, "Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly." I believe that's what God has in mind for us, especially during this Christmas season. I'll be the first to admit that I have a hard time finding rest and remembering the heart of Christmas. I like to decorate and shop and bake, and have things just so for my home and my family. Those things are good, but they distract me from the main thing.

In the midst of that I hear God calling me back to a place of rest and remembrance. He is inviting us not to a Christmas event but to a Christmas encounter. An encounter with him this season that leaves us different, full of peace and rest. I think of the people we've come to know in the story of Christ's birth: the shepherds, the wise men, the evil King Herod, even Mary and Joseph, and so many more. Not one of those people came away unchanged after meeting Jesus. He made an impression, even as a small baby. He's still making impressions today; but we're usually too busy to notice, too busy to hear his voice calling us-inviting us to a life changing encounter with the Living God.

This season I want to answer that call, I want to trade all the pageantry and events of Christmas for an encounter. A meeting with God. That is the heart of Christmas, I pray that we don't miss it.

edited: just a reminder to go over and check out the inspired room for some awesome holiday ideas. there's great stuff on every aspect of celebrating this time of year.

12 comments:

  1. Gina, that was a great reminder and encouragement! Thank you!!
    LOVE YOU!
    Mom D

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  2. Wow Gina, that is beautiful. Your mom is so sweet with her comment. I hope everyone reads your post, it is lovely. I love Christmas...for all the right reasons...and wish everyone else did too. This is your gift Gina to us...well spoken words that will remain...what is that scripture about fitly spoken words are like apples of gold in settings of silver.
    Blessings,
    Debbie

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  3. Don't you wish there would have been a way to convey that precious message to that worn out Mom? Your post will definitely share that with someone who will stop by who really needs to hear it.
    God bless!

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  4. Loved this post! Thank you so much for sharing and inspiring us to what really matters.

    Blessings,
    Melissa

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  5. What a sweet lovely post. I'm going to bookmark this and return when I'm feeling stressed.

    You have given us all something to ponder!

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  6. What a beautiful post.
    Thank you for sharing and reminding us what Christmas is all about.

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  7. This is certainly an eye opener.
    We are stressed and sometimes forget the true true meaning of Christmas. I needed this today.I came over from A Picture is Worth a
    1,000 words!! I am so glad Diane had this to share with us today. Sometimes we all need to stop focus on the true meaning.
    Thanks Gina

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  8. What a lovely post...a great reminder to all of us. JESUS is the reason for the season!

    ~Blessings,
    Jan

    ps...I came over from Diane's today!

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  9. Thanks for helping to keep us focused on the Reason for the Season.

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  10. Your post touched me. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I'm busy decorating and thinking about gifts. It's nice to 'pull back' and remember what it's all really about. It's supposed to be a time of Joy.

    Thanks again,

    Stephanie

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  11. Hi, Gina ...

    What a beautiful and eloquent post ... I was struck by the difference between you and your girls having a good time "playing in Target," and the other mom who was so stressed. Hopefully, she was just having a bad day and felt better after she got home.

    Thank you for sharing your insight into the real reason for Christmas, through "An Encounter." As the holidays get busier and busier, I'll be sure and come back for another "encounter."

    Sincerely,

    Janie

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