What if Christmas comes and I am not ready? This is the thought uppermost in my mind today – that and the realization that Christmas will come whether I am ready or not. Christmas waits for no one, including me. My mental to do list is long. Gifts are not wrapped (probably because they have not yet been purchased) decorating is not done, and space still needs to be made to accommodate decorations and guests. There is no tree and there are no cookies. Santa may not come if there is no place for him to put the presents and no treats for him to eat.
Maybe admitting to these shortcomings out loud isn’t the best way for me to alleviate my Advent anxiety. Now that I’ve shared the true state of my Advent situation with you, dear readers, it is real and I must deal with it. I liked it better when I could tell myself everything is on track, I have it all under control and it will all get done in time for the big event of Advent.
So why am I thinking of my Heavenly Father’s command to “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10) This does not seem like the time for me to be still, as the Psalm says. Instead, I feel like these Advent days of mine should be filled with activity, non-stop activity, either in preparing in order to be ready, or in celebrating with family and friends. I am already suffering from Advent anxiety, being still would only add to that, not eliminate it.
Or would it? True I am surrounded by whirlwinds of activity everywhere I look. Our normally busy lives get even busier during Advent because many extra events and activities are added to our calendars. Advent in our culture is a time to be busier, not a time to be still. And yet – the context of Psalm 46 is interesting because this “be still” command comes after these words,
“Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. . . . Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; He lifts His voice, the earth melts.” (Psalm 46:2-6)
It is amid these circumstances that God’s command to “Be still,” comes to us. It does not seem to me that it would be very easy to be still during such chaos as is described in this Psalm. I think in such circumstances I would be in fight or flight mode, but definitely not in be still mode. It seems counterintuitive to me. If I am experiencing Advent anxiety, the solution seems obvious to me – get busy and work longer and harder to prepare – not be still.
The first verse of this Psalm says, “God is our (my) refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore I will not fear,” (Psalm 46:1) My Heavenly Father does not want me to be fearful or anxious. He wants me to know that He is my refuge, my strength and my ever-present help. But I cannot know this and experience this unless I take Him up on His offer to “Be still, and know that He is God.”
My being still allows me to know God. It is in the being still that the knowing takes place, and it is in the knowing that I discover the character of my Creator and learn that I can trust Him with my anxiety, Advent or otherwise. God wants me to know Him. He actually invites me to know Him. “Be still, and know that I am God.” This is an invitation I want to accept. I have the opportunity to know God! When I take the time to be still in obedience, God will meet with me there in the stillness.
As I come to know God as my refuge, my strength and my ever-present help in trouble, my anxiety is replaced with His peace, one of the many gifts His presence brings. Peace is a gift of the Advent season, along with hope, joy and love. Today, I will choose to be still and receive this gift from my Heavenly Father. Jesus said,
“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.” (John 14:27)
How fitting that on the night of Jesus’s birth the angels proclaimed,
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.” (Luke 2:14)
“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)
may it be so for you this Advent season,
sincerely, Grace Day