Attracted to or Distracted from Advent?

photo by I.K.Hadinger
photo by I.K.Hadinger

Phones ringing, incoming text messages, full e-mail inbox, crammed schedules, and a hectic lifestyle in general are outward distractions to the spiritual (and contented) life.

But there are worse distractions. From within.

Distracted by worry, the voice that whispers “trust me” obliges the need to call repetitively.

“I believe!” we say.

Believe…

…that He is in control

…that He is our provider

…that He loves us

…that He knows our need before we ask

…that He is bigger than our situation

Again, He calls, “trust me.”

We nod our heads and with complete sincerity say, “Yes, Lord, you know I do.” But just as quickly our attention is diverted by the whir of worry, that noisy thing that runs circles in our mind and heart like a train under a Christmas tree.

Do you know what I mean?

Whether a serious need or simply “wants”, we ruminate over them. Round and round it goes. A cycle of faith then worry. It may not be the acid-reflux causing worry, nor the bite-your-nails worry, nor the gray-hair-overnight worry; sometimes our worries are merely longings for things we don’t have.

I’ve been there. Those worries are distractions in our life: spiriutally, relationally, and emotionally.

“Do not worry about your life, what you will eat, drink, or wear. Isn’t life more than that? Look at the birds, how God takes care of them. Aren’t you worth more than them?”                               – Jesus

With the Christmas season approaching, I was concerned about not having any decorations–no tree, ornaments, nativity, etc., as all our belongings (sans two suitcases each) remained in Mexico. I stood in my living room…a bit troubled. Trimmings breed festivity. My husband and daughter need the atmosphere. Our sons are coming home from college. We’re only here for one, maybe two years, so spending a portion of our modest budget on seasonal frippery was unwise. I squared my shoulders ready to face a sparkle-less Christmas.

Until the distraction (concern) came again.

“Trust Me,” echoed a Voice in my spirit, “keep your eyes on Me.” And I did, between bouts of resigned sighing.

Before going to New York City last week, I worried about what to wear. It was to be special, our 25th anniversary celebration. We would be going both to the ballet and a concerto. Not only did I not have fancy clothes, I didn’t have many winter clothes at all! We moved back to the states last June with only two suitcases each. Not exactly vain, but I do have some dignity and wanted to go on our trip feeling pretty and somewhat put together.

It was a distraction, this dreaming of adequate couture.

“Trust Me,” resounded that familiarly trustworthy Voice, “keep your eyes on Me.” And I did, as I repeatedly leashed that fancy from running amuck. I did, as long as there was still plenty of time.

But that nervous distraction creeps toward us in rhythm to that approaching calendar day when the need –or want, or whatever– comes due.

advent-seriesKeri Wyatt Kent, in her book Deeply Loved, asks: What distractions keep you from being attentive to Jesus? She quotes brother Lawrence from his book, Practice of the Presence of God:

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“Soul’s eyes must be kept on God, particularly when something is being done in the outside world. Since much time and effort are needed to perfect this practice, one should not be discouraged by failure. Although the habit is difficult to form, it is a source of divine pleasure, once it is learned.” Brother Lawrence, Practicing the Presence of God

Ah yes. How often our eyes have seen His faithfulness in times past. Too many to count! One of them is this house we temporarily live in. A year ago we had no idea where we’d be living during our time of furlough. We had no home in the USA, no furniture, no bed and bath goods, no kitchen supplies, and no natural way to afford the current costs of furnished rentals.

But He whispered, we trusted, He intervened, and when the time came, we moved in. It was His miracle provision.

God is good. He keeps His promises. He provides. 

Isn’t that really what this whole Christmas season, this time of Advent, is? The fulfilled promise for the greatest need known to humans: a purely renewed and cleansed soul.

Long lay the world, in sin and error pining, till He appeared and the soul felt it’s worth. A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices for yonder breaks and new and glorious morn!”

During this Advent season, whatever distraction, need, or longing you are experiencing, I pray that you hear his whisper of “Trust Me; keep your eyes on Me.”

And for the record, a week before our trip to New York, two large bags of designer clothes (mostly names I’ve never heard of because I never shop in the stores that sell them), used but in excellent condition, were given to me. In my size.

Two days ago a pre-lit Christmas tree with trimmings and a pre-lit garland for the mantle were loaned us. In a basement storage of this rental we found a nativity and a few other “old fashioned” decorations.  Before we went to bed that night, my husband and I quietly sat in the living room, like children, stilled by the beauty and mesmerized by the Christmas aura.

“Trust Me. Keep your eyes on Me.”

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