Life can be busy and stressful, especially during the holidays. School is stressful for your children, which stresses you out. Sickness levels the house, which is followed by unexpected bills. You're stressed out that you're stressed out and not enjoying time with your family. Christmas parties start to pile up, along with all the white elephant gifts you need to buy. You need to work out before you eat too much over the holidays, but you can't seem to find time for going to the gym. Travel plans need to be made for seeing family, which means the oil has to be changed on the car (and the windshield wiper fluid along with two new tires). All the while, Christmas shopping weighs on the back of your mind. But that brings you back to finances, which has you stressed out again.
This struggle is particularly felt during the holidays between late November and early January. For the Christian, this should be a season marked by gratitude, reflection, and rest. This, of course, clashes with the culture of consumerism in which we live. One invites us to go, do, and get. The other invites us to stop, rest, and remember. The sad reality of the holiday season for many Christians is we are so busy we end up missing the wonder of Immanuel—God with us.
I recently returned to a book Kevin DeYoung wrote a few years ago—Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book About a (Really) BigProblem. I would highly recommend it to you. His conclusion especially speaks to our busyness during the holiday season. It's simple—it almost sounds too simple. DeYoung suggests, "Making consistent time for the Word of God and prayer is the place to start because being with Jesus is the only thing strong enough to pull us away from busyness." Like Mary, we need to choose "the good portion" and sit at the Lord's feet and listen to his teaching. (Luke 10:38-42). We need to hear Jesus' words to Martha, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary” (Luke 10:41-42). Even more poignantly, DeYoung challenges us with these words: "It's not wrong to be tired. It's not wrong to feel overwhelmed. It's not wrong to go through seasons of complete chaos. What is wrong—and heartbreakingly foolish and wonderfully avoidable—is to live a life with more craziness than we want because we have less Jesus than we need."
Let that sink in…we do not have to live a life with more craziness than we want because we have less Jesus than we need. That's the key to fighting our busyness—more Jesus. We get more Jesus by being in God's Word and with God's people. Let me suggest three avenues you can pursue this during the holidays:
1. Individually: Make time to be in God's Word and prayer. The daily rhythm of spending time with the Lord is the surest way to prepare ourselves to navigate our busy lives. God does not command us to have daily devotions, He calls us to dwell on His truth day and night. God does not demand a quiet time, He calls us to entrust all of our time into His hands. Devotions and quiet times will never last if we guilt ourselves into doing them. It is God's grace and empowering Spirit that sustains our daily time in God's Word and prayer. We cannot afford to neglect it. But if we have, return to Him tomorrow with confidence that His mercies are new every morning.
In addition to regularly reading and meditating on God's Word, let me suggest two additional way to get more Jesus this holiday season.
- Sing: Whether in the car, while you study, or around the house, fill your mind with what is praiseworthy and sing your way through your busyness. Consider checking out: Austin Stone Worship, Caroline Cobb, Shane & Shane, Keith and Kristyn Getty, or Ellie Holcomb. For kids, check out the Getty Kids albums or Sovereign Grace Kids.
- Study: Consider working through an Advent Study or devotional. Fixing your mind on the first coming of Christ and anticipating the second coming of Christ has a way putting our busy schedules in perspective. Risen Motherhood has compiled a helpful list of Recommended Advent Resources I would encourage you to check out.
2. As Family: Put Jesus at the center of your family. Family time is obligatory for almost everyone during the holidays. However, we can fail to reflect and celebrate Jesus intentionally as a family. This may not be anything radical. It may mean putting the cell phones up at the dinner table to talk about what God is teaching you through His Word. Maybe it means doing an Advent study together as a family leading up to Christmas. Perhaps it means reading the Birth narrative on Christmas morning. Make traditions that foster a deeper understanding of and love for Jesus. Additionally, consider who you might bring into your family to enjoy this with you—singles or those from broken homes. If you are single, consider how to cultivate these type of rhythms and experiences in the community God has given you.
3. Corporately: More and more people are simply too busy for church. Throw in a dose of holiday busyness and it's a wonder that anyone comes to church outside of the Christmas Eve service. In all seriousness, time, not theology, is driving more and more people away from the church. In all of our busyness, we simply cannot neglect the corporate gathering of the church. The Christian faith is not merely me and Jesus or my family and Jesus. It Jesus and His bride—the church (Matt. 16:18; Heb. 10:23-25). A commitment to the church will cost you time, but it is worth the cost. When we gather as the church, we receive the Word of God along with God's people, both of which give shape to our busy lives.
The key to fighting busyness during the holidays—or any other day—is to focus ourselves on Jesus through being in His Word, centering our relationships on Him, and pursuing Him alongside other believers in the church.