Slowing Down

Distraction. It’s a common inclination the enemy uses to make believers ineffective for kingdom use. I could tell I’d fallen prey to it, my mind wandering relentlessly away from the Lord. At first, it was a day or two I’d missed between quiet times, then a week, and even a month… my once coveted journal becoming covered in a dusty residue. I could tell my distractions were getting the best of me, my sleep overtaking that early morning alarm, my bible left unopened while Facebook became a favorite on my constant companion. Slowly, almost without notice, I began to feel a wandering presence begin to captivate me. I knew I was not defined by how much time I spent with my Lord, but the intrusive thoughts began to bombard me like arrows from all directions. I knew I needed the Lord, I knew He was the answer to my loneliness, isolation and fears, but how could I get back to where I’d once been, that closeness I so desired? Things had happened so unnoticeably.

As believers, none of us are immune to daily distractions. In our culture it can be easy to forget God. There, I said it. And I hate it! The noise is so completely blaring at us that often times we hear static as we try to incline our hearts towards Him. We often feel like we are just going through the motions. Praying prayers without much power, becoming plain people instead of experiencing victory in Jesus name. The amazing thing about God, though is that this static is only one way. And this static is often only temporary. As we persevere through the fuzziness, it is possible to zero in on His loving voice and relentless pursuit of us.

Christmas can be a time where the noise settles a bit and our culture seems to become one heartbeat, as we adore Him and expectantly prepare for Him to come. This time of Christmas tenderly reorients our hearts again towards the One who laid down His life for us, who came to save us and love us beyond measure. Much like a compass, the traditions of Christmas are like a magnet pulling ever stronger towards Emmanuel, God with us.

As we prepare with a thankful heart, and anticipate Jesus’ birth, our focus is drawn nearer to Him. The sights and sounds of the season pull us back into His loving arms. The rub is that Christmas is only one day a year, and Jesus longs for us, pursues us relentlessly and completely each and every day. Therefore, what can we do practically to remain near to Him? We alone are prone to wandering. We long for some simple checklist, don’t we, to secure our hope in Him. But salvation doesn’t work itself out that way, does it?

In our wandering we must be self-aware of the distance, and be the ones to instead move towards Him. Our enjoyment of His Word as the ever-present compass primes our hearts to be pulled heavenward. Our gratitude towards His faithfulness and loving-kindness draws us ever closer into His presence. Stillness creates an atmosphere of clarity as we communicate with the Father and begin to live effectively for the gospel. Our adoration and love for the Savior does not have to end when the decorations and delightful dirges return to storage. As we intentionally resist the desire to become comfortable in our distraction, we make Him the benchmark of our hearts, the due north so to speak. Wherever we find ourselves, we can always take one step closer towards Jesus. His position is firm, He doesn’t change, and His heart longs for us to come.

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