Christmas music is playing, Starbucks red cups are here, and lights are twinkling. Today, though, we are reminded of the ordinary, quiet night that Christ entered into our world of unrest. This Sunday, with only twenty-two days until Christmas, Advent begins. Advent ushers in the coming Christmas Day that we celebrate the salvation of the world resting in a manger. This is the season of worship, remembrance, rest, and waiting.
Today I am tired. I am tempted to believe that I don’t have time for Advent. Ironically, this first week of Advent is the week of final exams for me. With papers to write and exams to study for, I don’t feel peace in anticipating Christmas. Yet, this first day of Advent reminds me of the rest God has been teaching me.
Though we sings carols of joy and peace, this season often feels more like weariness. It’s a time to be merry, but I think for most of us it’s also a time to be busy. As I have walked through a time of transition to college these last three months, I have found that my days are quickly consumed. It is easy to go through a week without even realizing that I have deprived myself of sleep, meaningful conversations, space to write, and even time with God in the hurry. Yet I have quickly learned that life without rest is unsustainable. Yet even when I know this to be true, it is a constant battle for me to step away from the doing to let my body and soul just be. Why is rest so difficult?
I have looked forward to the Christmas season, hoping it would bring rest with it. But I have realized that just waiting only ends in a hope for rest that never comes. Something will always find a way to fill our empty space. Rest doesn’t just happen. It takes not only clearing our schedules, but filling them with time devoted to rest. An extra cup of coffee can only carry us so far. Sometimes we have to close the computer, leave a job unfinished, and respond to the humbling reminder that our bodies require sleep. We have to allow ourselves space for the things we love, those things God has given us a passion for on purpose. We may even have to say no to a friend to say yes to God’s loving plea that we come to him. Rest takes intentionality.
Even in our best efforts, sometimes rest doesn’t come in the physical presence of time or sleep. On days when my mind feels overwhelmed and my body feels tired, I am reminded that my heart can still be at rest in the peace of God. Ten minutes of prayer often brings a deeper rest that not only refreshes my body, but refreshes my soul. God is greater than the nights without sleep, the days that feel overwhelming, the pressing deadlines, and the circumstances worrying our hearts.
Our busy world will tell us to make another cup of coffee, go to another Christmas party, go shopping one more time, and make another batch of cookies. We don’t want to admit that we are tired, that we can’t keep pace with the busy season. Rest is humbling. Yet, through Jesus’ birth and life, we see that the Kingdom of God calls us to a different race entirely. Jesus entered earth in humility and rest. Even though Mary was tired from travel and there was no room in the inn, Jesus entered restfully into a world of unrest. He came as a baby wrapped in cloth, lying in a manger. A baby can’t deny rest. Imagine the Christ child wrapped in a manger, sleeping under the stars. It is such a simple way for our King to come.
Then she gave birth to her firstborn Son, and she wrapped him tightly in cloth and laid him in a manger. Luke 2:7
Today, as Advent begins, I encourage you to rest with me. We could curl up with a blanket and our Bibles, bake cookies for fun, turn on Christmas music, and ask God to refocus our hearts. We will read the story of the restful way God chose to enter the unrest. We can humble ourselves to God’s presence by putting our to-do lists and planners aside for just a moment. Let us rejoice in the peace He grants us when we ask. True rest is found in our Lord. May this be a season of intentionally carving time to rest in the love of our Savior.
If you’re looking for a way to study the Bible through Advent, check out She Reads Truth’s Advent study, “Joy to the World.” I am looking forward to enjoying their beautiful print copy, but you can join online or on their app as well.