final_advent_cover1.jpgCome to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28 (NAS)

Can I tell you something? I struggle to do a daily quiet time. Sometimes I go days without sitting down to pray. Before Bible study last week, I couldn’t even find my Bible. And we’ve never done a family devotion time.

I feel totally vulnerable now. Sometimes I feel like I’m less of a Christian for not having it all together. Why is it that the very things that are supposed to draw us closer to God — pull us into deeper relationship with Him — are the very things that can make us feel defeated and hopeless?

Every Christmas starts the same for me. I have grand intentions of reading a portion of the Christmas story every day, using our Advent calendar as a catalyst for a family devotion time, and preparing for the arrival of the Child in the manger. I determine to celebrate the real meaning of Christmas the entire month of December, like I think a “good Christian” should.

And then shopping, performances, volunteer opportunities, family gatherings, office Christmas parties, school functions, church activities, and general Christmas insanity hits. Before I know it, it’s New Year’s Day, and I’m resolving not to miss Christmas again this coming year. Instead of being filled with hope and joy all month, I experience stress and defeat. Again.

What’s ironic is that the manger offers us a place of hope and rest, rather than futility and anxiety. Think about it: when you hold a newborn baby in your arms, you experience a sense of hush and quiet. As she serenely sleeps, you gaze upon her face in awe. You delight in simply observing her and being in her presence. Sitting next to the manger, we can breathe deeply and freely.

We don’t receive a report card on how well we’ve performed as Christians over the past year.

We don’t have a development discussion to review all of the areas in which we need to improve.

Beside the manger, we find total acceptance. We can come as we are, faults and all. And He gives us rest.

Opening Advent calendars, doing family devotions, volunteering, buying gifts, and spending time with family are all wonderful things to do during the Christmas season. But don’t feel like you have to do them all in order to approach the Babe in the manger. All He’s asking you to do is come.

Precious Jesus, help me to set aside the expectations I place upon myself, and come sit beside the manger this Christmas season. Thank you for giving me rest.

What does it look like for you to sit beside the manager and experience rest? What needs to be done in order for you to do that?