I love Christmas. I love Christmas songs playing on the radio. I love our family traditions. I love Christmas lights. I love all the fun that the Christmas season brings. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, right?
It’s ironic that the time of year when we’re supposed to slow down tends to be the busiest. It feels as if we squeeze about three-months’ worth of activities into a few short weeks. We know that Jesus is the true meaning of Christmas and that He should be our focus. However, we have so much in the periphery this time of year that it often proves difficult to focus on our Savior.
Focusing on Jesus at Christmas is like trying to focus on a single white dash between the lanes while driving 75 mph on the interstate. We’re going to much and so fast that everything is a little bit of a blur.
Advent provides us an opportunity to slow down, mentally, physically, and spiritually, to cultivate a desire and longing for the second coming of Christ. Advent is about reorienting our hearts and minds on the true meaning of Christmas, the coming of our Messiah.
Notice I said, “reorient”. The word orient means to adjust or focus. To reorient means to re-focus or adjust again. That’s an important part of winning the war we find ourselves in. To win this internal war, we have to be diligent to reorient or recalibrate our lives to focus on Christ.
The gravitational pull of the Christmas season is competing with our hearts and affections. But it’s not just the Christmas season that pulls us, it’s the world in which we live. The road dust of this world clings to our feet, and our souls. Whether consciously or subconsciously, we are easily influenced and distracted by the world around us and we lose focus.
Our natural human inclination is to lose focus, to wander off course. The psalmist makes is clear that our hearts are sick. Our fallen nature pulls us toward ourselves. That’s exactly why Advent is important. We recognize our fallen nature and that we have to be intentional about reorienting our lives and our hearts to focus on Him.
We see this for the first time in Genesis 3. The Garden had been established and God had given Adam and Eve dominion of everything in it. Adam and Eve were thriving, and they were in right relationship and harmony with God. Then, one day, they were tempted by the serpent and they lost focus on what truly mattered; their relationship with God, the source of hope, joy, love, and peace. Then, everything unraveled.
Adam and Eve aren’t the only ones to lose focus. Moses lost focus and it kept him from entering the Promised Land. King David lost focus and it cost him his reign.
In Hebrews 12, the Apostle Paul wrote some words that I believe would prove fruitful for us as we fight this war against ourselves this Christmas.
“Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.” In other words, lay aside anything that is a hindrance, a distraction, a foothold, and keep your eyes fixed on Jesus.
I’m certainly no ship captain, but I do know this; When you’re the captain of a ship, you can’t just look at the map, the coordinates, and compass once, and set sail. To make your destination, you have to keep checking your bearing throughout the journey. Regularly reorienting yourself and examining your course. Has the wind caused me to drift off course? If so, how far? What are the steps I need to take to get back on course to get me to my intended destination? If so, I need to reorient.
When is the last time you self-examined your own life? Is it time to reorient yourself to focus on Him?
In what or whom do you find love? Joy? Hope? Peace? If you find yourself feeling absent of hope, joy, love, or peace, ask yourself this question? What’s my focus? Has the current of my life swept me off course? Are my eyes fixed on Jesus?
True joy, hope, love, and peace are only found in Jesus. If we search for it in anything or anyone else, it will always fall short leaving us feeling like something is missing and we’ll lose the war.