Now that it is the last day of January, I am encouraged and challenged to find out what will come in this New Year 2016. This January has felt very different for me than those in the past. It has been five months since being Baptized as a Child of God and how it has changed my outlook on life! It’s the perfect time to set new resolutions and the chance to do better than the year before. Which brings me to this past Christmas 2015…
It was the beginning of December and I was so excited, because I just had thought of the cutest way to have our “Elf on the Shelf” arrive to our home to surprise my seven-year old son, Evan (this has been a tradition since he turned three). He looks forward to it every year, and every year I aim to top the last with clever ways for the Elf to travel back & forth from the North Pole. I decided to place him in a box with a cute Christmas rhyme announcing his arrival & wrapped it up in pretty paper & even printed out stickers & stamps stating our Elf was sent “First Class from the North Pole.” Did I ever mention my Pinterest addiction? Yeah. After finishing my beautifully wrapped package of Christmas cheer, I looked down at my watch realizing I needed to leave the house in order to pick up my son from school and not be late. I quickly ran, slid the package under our mailbox, grabbed my coat, keys & purse and flew out the door. As I backed out of my garage, I suddenly heard the most awful sound of crunching and ripping metal. To my ultimate horror, I realized I had not given myself enough room backing out and caught the driver’s side bumper on the metal runner attached to the garage door. When I got out of the car to assess the damage, the bumper was pulled away from the frame with scratches on it and paint that had peeled off. My heart began to pound, as I said out loud to myself, “No, no, no… This is not happening. I did not just do this.” Yes, I did that. Luckily, we have insurance, so the $2,000 worth of damage only cost us $750.0o. As my husband said with a grin, “Merry Christmas!”
After an accident, I always ask myself what could I have done better? What could’ve changed the outcome of that afternoon? After this particular accident, I found myself thinking that I need to slow down and take a breath sometimes. I consider myself pretty organized and a planner, but at certain times I can get so caught up in the excitement that I don’t always prioritize my time well and end up adding too many things to my “to-do list.” And that definitely got the better of me that day.
After reading Chapters 16-20 in Exodus, we see God respond to many of the Israelites struggles during their journey to Mt. Sinai. We find them in the wilderness, starving and complaining to Moses and Aaron for their lack of food. The Lord is quick to respond by providing food that will “rain down from heaven” and He instructs them to “pick up as much food as they need for the day” (Exodus 16:4 NLT). He goes on to explain that on the sixth day they are to gather food, prepare it and they will find “twice as much as usual.” God instructs them to do this, so that they take the seventh day as “a holy Sabbath day” of rest and set it apart for the Lord (Exodus 16:23 NLT).
When I’m in the hustle and bustle of the Holidays, do I find myself taking the extra time I need to prepare? Do I set apart a “Sabbath day” for the Lord? More often than not, I am shoving in extra things on my to-do list, like picking up more bows for the Christmas presents, adding more decorations to the house, baking more goodies to bring to a holiday gathering. And at the end of the evening, I remember that I forgot to read my devotional or that I didn’t pray or spend time in the Word. I get so caught up in the excitement – the twinkling lights, the pretty packages, decorations and messages all around me to deck my house fa, la, la, la, la that I completely miss my opportunity to be with God.
When the Israelites reach Rephidim, they encounter no water there to drink. Their response, again, is more complaining to Moses that they are without water. Moses asks them in frustration, “Why are you complaining against me? And why are you testing the Lord?” (Exodus 17:3). Again, the Lord provides and instructs Moses to strike the rock and water will gush out. Moses obeys and water gushes out for the people. Finally, after these tests of faith, the people respond to the Lord’s instruction before He appears to them on Mt. Sinai in Exodus 19.
Do I put my faith in God as my provider and my guide when I’m in times of overloaded schedules and responsibilities? Do I trust Him enough that He will provide in these times? Sadly, no I don’t always. But, how important it is for me to rely on Him and not on myself.
This past Christmas I had a wake-up call. I got a good glimpse into my bad habit of letting the Holiday season get the better of me. Let’s face it, when you leave your door and all you are bombarded with are constant images of decorating the most festive house and trimming the most perfect tree, it is all too easy to get caught up in it. But, when I do that I’m forgetting the reason for the season. And I need to draw into God and thank Him for His most perfect gift – His Son. It’s fine to celebrate with our loved ones and to decorate and give presents, all of it. But, when those things become priority and God becomes last on the list, then that’s when it is time to take a step back, slow down and thank God for the most awesome gift we can ever receive ~ the gift of our Savior, Jesus Christ.