Letting Go of Distractions to Be Attentive to God This Advent
I love everything about Christmas and I’m very sentimental. The other night at dinner, Steve and I were reflecting on all the Christmases past. The years we spent Christmas in Sudan when we were missionaries. The year we paid our youth pastor to dress up as Santa Claus and visit our house. The year the children’s story at church went a bit too long and the candles on the table almost went over as some toddler crawled under. All the years of trying to keep kids entertained and happy during 4 Christmas Eve services. The many early Christmas mornings when the kids were up at 5 am to open their presents. Ah, so many memories.
Looking back, I had to fight hard to be attentive to Christ through the flurry of activity. I was often like Martha who scripture tells us “was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made” (Luke 10:40). It’s easy this time of year to be distracted.
Meanwhile, Jesus softly whispers, “Focus on me. I’m still here. I still bring hope and light. I want your undivided attention!”
I believe that the holiday season is being used as an invitation from God to bring our focus back to Him. The question is, how? How do we let go of distractions and attend to our primary relationship: our friendship with Christ?
Here are a few ideas:
Create the Space for FaceTime with Jesus First Thing in the Morning. Most of us FaceTime with relatives or close friends. Moses talked with God face-to-face (Exodus 33:11). Light a candle. Listen to a worship song. Spend a few minutes praising God. Sit in silence enjoying God’s presence. Read your Bible and write down one thought that stands out to you. Savor your moments with Him.
Some of you may have tiny children and you’re wondering how you can do this. I get it. I remember. Encourage your children to color for a few minutes while you have face-time with Jesus. Turn on a show quietly for them so you can have some reflective times. Trade-off with your spouse. Your kids will get used to seeing you having time with Jesus, and I’ve not met a child yet who resents that.
Focus on a Name of Christ for Every Day in December. Write the name of Christ down on an index card and put it in a place where you’ll see it as you move through your day (i.e. Shepherd, Immanuel, Rose of Sharon, Messiah, etc.). As you move through your day, in the silence of your own heart, praise Jesus for the meaning of that name. In this way, you’ll be focusing your attention on Christ throughout your day.
Cultivate a Continual Conversation with the Lord. When I was raising young kids, I learned that I couldn’t spend hours in prayer! Someone always needed my attention. However, I learned to cultivate quiet conversations with the Lord throughout my day. Sometimes these conversations were a cry for wisdom. Sometimes they were merely an expression of my love for the Lord. Sometimes they were asking for a deeper awareness of Christ’s presence. As I cultivated these continual conversations with the Lord, my intimacy with Christ grew. To this day, no matter where I am or who I’m with, I have quiet conversations going on in my heart with the Lover of my Soul.
Friend, here’s the thing: we often are a lot like Martha. We live distracted lives. Set it as your goal this advent season to be attentive to the Lord. The intimacy you’ll experience with Christ will be worth it.