It’s five o’clock in the morning as I quietly make my way through the dark. Not wanting to disturb anyone’s peace, I gingerly feel along the wall until I reach the dining room. A soft aura of white sneaks through the edges of the blinds hinting that the world outside may look much different today than it did yesterday. Like the curtain rising on opening night, I slowly pull up the blinds and gasp from my front row seat.
It is stunning!
Hunkered down under new blankets of snow, the trees and bushes provide perfect pedestals for God to display His morning splendor. I grab a cup of chai
and stand out on the patio in the sub-zero temperatures. Snow muffles the normal rattle of the city, and I enjoy the quiet of the pre-dawn hours. The extreme cold somehow exaggerates my hot chai and my hands feel like they are burning. I drink in winter’s arrival anyway and feel God’s warmth spread throughout my spirit.
Five ducks glide silently through the water in the pond waiting for the sunrise. I am filled and overcome by the majesty of God’s simplicity, and I cherish the solitude of this moment with Him. Time instantly stops as peace descends. I am sure that somewhere else in the city people are contending with nasty fall-out from this storm, but my mind rejects the temptation to wander into their anxiety, and instead, I remain focused on my own moment with Jesus.
Hidden away from the storm’s consequences, the beauty of the present engulfs me with contentment. I have no obligations, decisions, or responsibilities awaiting my attention, so I embrace the beauty of this moment and hear Jesus say, “Come away and rest,” so I do. I come away with Jesus untouched by the storm’s danger, yet profoundly moved by its wonder.
How is it that one person’s peace is another person’s peril? I know this storm killed at least five people across the country as it marched in from the west. How could I enjoy something that has been so treacherous? Navigating a raging storm can be difficult, particularly when it invades the Christmas season. Despite our desire to avoid the storms of life, it’s simply a matter of time before one affects us all.
You may have lost your job last week or received a troubling diagnosis from your doctor. Perhaps you’ve moved to a new city and don’t know anyone. Maybe one of your children or your spouse is deployed overseas this Christmas and you worry about their safety. Debt may have sent a cyclone of anxiety to your doorstep, and you worry that you may never be free from its interference. Some of us contend with broken relationships or unmet expectations in our lives and Christmas only seems to exaggerate the anxiety surrounding us. For others, this Christmas will be the first one since someone they love passed away, or it may be the annual reminder of who is absent.
What is God’s desire for us this Christmas season?
It is the same desire He has for us every other day of the year; that we be filled with His peace. John 16:33 says, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace; In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you,” said Jesus. “Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” John 14:27
Jesus has overcome the world and has promised us His peace. Sometimes, however, we live as if He hasn’t and we are still at the mercy of our own inner turmoil. I do know it’s really hard to be at peace when I’m afraid, and life certainly offers me plenty of fearful situations. But the apostle, Paul, offers us an antidote. He says in Philippians 4:6-7, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
God’s peace will guard our hearts from anxiety, and that is never more important than during the Christmas season when everything seems magnified. Much like the frigid temperatures exaggerated the heat of my coffee cup this morning, Christmas expectations exaggerate the anxiety we feel when disappointment hits in the month of December. It is the contradiction of feeling sorrow in the midst of manufactured holiday cheer that makes contending for peace so difficult. The disparity of extremes can steal the peace Christ intends for us have not only at Christmastime, but also for every day of the year.
So what do I do? How do I find peace when my heart might be breaking or is filled with anxiety?
I behold the beauty of the Lord.
“One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to meditate in His temple.” Psalm 27:4
Beholding the beauty might seem an odd solution for anxiety. What about beholding the beauty of God returns us to peace? It shifts our focus off ourselves. We are not the answer to our own pain. God is our resource. When we focus on His beauty, on the beauty He has created and surrounded us with, we will find that peace that Paul talked about. Peace that pushes beyond our understanding comes from keeping our eyes focused on Jesus and not on ourselves.
As the sun makes its way to the water’s surface, the ducks play tag in the snow-draped pond. Suddenly, every imaginable bird in the neighborhood shows up for the morning calisthenics and I wish my friend, Katrina, were here to see this. Katrina believes God made those beautiful birds just for her enjoyment and entertainment. Well, she might be right; they certainly have helped me focus on the majestic this morning.
…to behold the beauty of the Lord…
What’s beautiful in your world today?
© Copyright, 2013 by Donna Tallman.