prepare.jpgI will hasten and not delay to obey your commands. Psalm 119:60 (NIV)

Webster’s Dictionary defines “prepare” as
1 a : to make ready beforehand for some purpose, use, or activity b : to put in a proper state of mind; 2 : to work out the details of : plan in advance; 3 a : to put together : b : to put into written form.

I think all three are applicable to the season.

Let’s start with 1a: “to make ready beforehand for some purpose.” This is what all the cleaning, shopping, and cooking is about. I teach high school, and every day I am expected to stand before 100 kids with a prepared lesson. Most days I do, but honestly sometimes I have to wing it. I think they learn either way, but the difference is how I feel. When I am prepared, I am less stressed. That tight little knot in my stomach isn’t there. I am focused on them, rather than how to fill the next ninety minutes. I ask them how they are as they walk in the room, rather than frantically looking for papers or supplies. I notice if they are “getting it,” rather than trying to think of what to say next.

The same is true for having friends over. If I have the meal prepared and the house picked up, I feel more relaxed and just enjoy their company. If I am picking up clothes off the floor at the last minute, I end up sweaty and stressed by the time my guests arrive. Being prepared gives me the freedom to enjoy and respond to those around me. I don’t miss the moment because I am worried about the next one. Christmas is the same, except we stand to miss out on so much more.

When we prepare for the season, we get to relax a bit and enjoy Him, along with our friends and families. Webster’s Dictionary gives us some insight on this in definition 2: “to work out the details of, plan in advance.” In other words, we need a plan. Reading this is enough to make me stress even a little bit more. A plan seems like one more thing I need to do and one more area I won’t live up to. If you have a response like that, think small. What is just one thing you can do TODAY to get ready for Christmas: do some early shopping, address all your Christmas cards, cook a few extra meals to stick in the freezer, or stock up on baking supplies. Keep the perspective that each moment you save today will give you extra time to enjoy and respond to Christ.

Of course, Webster couldn’t leave out 3a—“to put together”—for all those toys and gifts that come with “some assembly required” and 3b—“to put in written form”—for all those cards to address and mail out!

My favorite part of the definition is 1b: “to put in a proper state of mind.” What a great reminder to me that I have so much more to prepare than my table, my tree, or my home. Christ hopes that we will prepare our hearts for His arrival. I love that we can come to the cross and the manger as we are, but I think Christ desires that every time we come back we are more like Him.

Father, help us to prepare our hearts to truly enjoy You. Show us what we can do in advance in advance to prepare for the season.

What small preparations can you make to get ready for Christ this season?