In this busy season we want to encourage you to slow down and create space to focus on the reality that God is with us. In this article, Michael Munson helps us to check our hearts.
As we have nearly spent two weeks preparing ourselves for Christmas, let’s just ask the question, “How’s it going?” Have you been able to find moments to be aware of the fact that God is with you? Are you able to be present with him as he is present with you?
As I stated last week, this season can be a tricky one. We are excited, we are in a joyful position. Some of us are planning meals, buying presents, maybe even preparing services or spaces to help others celebrate the joyousness of this season. As we do these things, let’s remember to build moments into our lives everyday to listen to what the Lord is saying. This isn’t just another thing to do, this is THE thing to do. This is the position from which we do all the other activities.
So let’s again go through the steps we went through last week to create just a little space for us to be aware of God with us. To be present with him, as he is present with us.
Step 1: Stop
- Wherever you are, just stop for a moment. Close your eyes for just a few extra seconds. Maybe you need to sit, maybe you need to find a space away from the computer or the TV, either way just pause what you are doing. Stop the movement of your body.
Step 2: Breathe
- This goes hand in hand with stopping. When we stop our physical bodies it can feel as if our emotions or our minds go racing. Actually they are probably always going that fast we are just now noticing.
- Now breathe, deeply in, and slowly out. Start to draw your mind, your imagination towards Jesus. Maybe thinking about the story of his birth, or the promise of him in Isaiah, or the angel’s visit to Mary. It could be something from your own life, a memory of God being with you.
- Breathe deeply in, and slowly out. Keep doing this throughout as you think of it.
Step 3: Listen
- Always the hardest part. You’ve stopped your body, you are slowing down your emotions with your breathing, your mind might be slowing too. Though this is a time to listen, a prayer may rise to your lips. It might start as a feeling. Put words to it. Keep it simple, one sentence if you can.
- Pray it in your heart, or out loud up to you. Just once, then listen.
- If you get distracted, pray it again, and stop, breathe, listen.
Step 4: Rest
- You have heard from God. It might be a fun memory of Christmases past. It might be a hope for the future. It could be a song lyric on your mind, or a reassurance of life. But rest assured it will be a way that you can understand. Sometimes we need practice noticing his voice, and it may take doing this a handful of times to realise you are hearing God.
- Either way, rest. Breathe again, you can point prayers of thanks back to God if you’d like. Maybe you just want to smile and stare out the window and look at his creation in gratitude. It’s up to you. But give yourself just a bit longer than you feel is necessary to rest.
Whatever this day holds, there is grace to stop, breathe, listen and rest in our Lord, as he is Immanuel, God with us, no matter the atmosphere we find ourselves in.
If you are looking for more resources during advent, last year we released weekly advent videos with some spiritual exercises to help you journey through the season. We will be re-sharing those across social media and they are available for you to use however is helpful to you.