special days, special lessons

Focus – an advent lesson

It’s hard to believe that Jayla is already 11 weeks old. She is growing and changing by the minute it seems. One night, she was lying on my lap as I talked to her trying to coax out some smiles. I gave her my best, “give mommy a smile,” but she just turned her head back and forth completely avoiding looking at me. I looked down at her and said, “Why won’t you look at mommy? I’m right in front of you.” Again she turned her head to the side. Instead of focusing on me, she was checking out her surroundings and exploring the world with her eyes. Apparently mommy is just not that interesting.

As I sat and watched her I started to think about my own focus. Though some stores have had Christmas items out for over a month, now that Thanksgiving has passed, I feel it is officially the beginning of the Christmas season. All Christians agree that this should be a time where we focus on the birth of Christ and all that he’s done for us; after all, Jesus is the reason for the season, right. Yet as Christ’s birthday approaches, I feel like we get a little distracted. There’s the shopping, decorating (limited to a tree in my boring house), Christmas music, school and church programs, baking, cooking, Christmas parties and exchanges, oh yeah, and basketball season (not exactly related to Christmas, but as a coach’s wife, this is a big part of our December). I feel a little bit like baby Jayla with my eyes and focus going from side to side, project to project, event to event. I have to wonder if God is saying the same thing to me that I said to my baby, “I’m right here in front of you. Why won’t you look at me?” If Jesus truly is the reason for the season, then my focus should be on him even more during the weeks leading up to Christmas. However, I find myself struggling to read my Bible and schedule quiet times; I am focused on checking things off my list and forget to put the Lord on it. Proverbs 4:24-27 says, “Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.” How often do we swerve to the right or the left during the holiday season filling it with so many distractions that we miss the Lord calling us closer to him right in front of our eyes. Baking and gift giving are not inherently evil; in fact, they seem quite the opposite, but when they prevent us from fixing our eyes on the path to God, they become distractions. Maybe we need a little reminder about who and what this holiday season is really about. Who should we be focusing on and why? Hebrews 12:2 instructs us: “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Christmas is about the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, who came to earth for the specific purpose to endure the cross so that he could reign eternally in heaven and so that we can join him when we choose to live for him. This is the reason for the season.

So how do we keep our focus on him during the hectic holidays when we’re scrambling to do this and that? We follow the directions to do all things for him. “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” Colossians 3:17. As you shop, wrap, bake, cook, plan, and participate in holiday festivities, do it for the Lord. Pray as you wrap; include a Bible verse on the gift tag; give thanks as you shop; read scripture while the cookies bake, and share your love for the Lord as you spend time with friends and family. When we purposely focus on the Lord and fix our eyes on him, our holidays will be filled with joy instead of stress. A joy similar to coaxing a smile from an infant. When my distracted little Jayla finally looked up into my eyes with a big, beautiful smile, my heart smiled back. In the same way, God wants to smile down on us as we fix our eyes on him during this holiday season. How can you improve your focus? Fix your eyes on him and do all things in the name of the Lord this holiday season.

Prayer:

Lord, forgive me for losing focus and falling to the distractions of the holiday season. Help me to focus on you and the amazing gift you sent in the birth of your son. I pray that I am able to fix my eyes on you and the path you have chosen for me. I pray that I am bold in sharing the gospel and your love with others during this Christmas season.

Amen.

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