With Christmas nearly upon us, my heart feels more panic than holy expectancy and awe at Christ’s coming. If Jesus knocked at my door today, I’d probably mutter, “There’s no room here,” just like the innkeeper at Bethlehem. Then I’d get back to my mile-long to-do list. Yes, I read in October about how you should prepare for Christmas early to enjoy a peaceful, holy Advent, but it must not have stuck, ‘cause I didn’t do it!
Sometimes we’re so busy in the holiday rush that we neglect the most important thing: preparing our hearts for Jesus. Here are some ways to tend our hearts, not just during Advent, but all year long.
Quiet Our Hearts
Taking just five minutes to be quiet and focus on our Savior can change the landscape of our hearts during a stressful season. I love Eugene Peterson’s translation of the “Be still and know that I am God” verse. Remember this when you’re at a crowded shopping mall:
A friend of mine takes this literally; in heavy traffic, he pulls his car over to the side of the road to STOP when he feels stressed.
As much as we enjoy the holiday season, it adds more to our already busy lives. I start to fret and get snappy. Before I know it, a layer of frustration and resentment wraps its way around my heart. Remember John the Baptist’s message of repentance? Nothing frees our hearts like taking a few minutes to humble ourselves, confess our sins, and ask God to cleanse us.
Invite Our Savior to Come in
One of the most intriguing images in the New Testament is Jesus making his home in our hearts. Open the door of your heart. Ask Jesus to come and show himself to you. Ask him to stay. Draw near to him for fellowship as you go about your day.
Ask God to Heal our Broken Places
High expectations of a joyous season can weigh heavy on hearts. Christmas may bring painful reminders of dysfunctional families, struggles with singleness, loss of a loved one, or divorce. God is waiting right now for you to pour your out heart and tell Him how you feel. Here’s a promise we can count on:
Ask God to Renew our Hearts
You may be dragging a weary heart around as you push through extra activities and responsibilities. Maybe a long, draining year has robbed your strength. Stop for a few minutes (or hours) to reflect on this:
Whether your heart needs to be quieted, cleansed, healed, or renewed, God will tend to it as you draw near to Him. Will you join me in setting aside a few minutes each day to prepare our hearts for Jesus as we celebrate His birth?