“Prepare the Way…”

wreathLet’s be honest, we don’t really handle being patient very well in this age where everything uses an app to give us information instantaneously or where things ship immediately the moment we hit the “send” on our phone. It becomes nearly impossible to prepare ourselves for what is going in the world around us because everything happens so fast. Additionally, reflective anticipation doesn’t ever have a chance to come into play when we get everything we want right away. Sadly, the same is happening with the relational message and the true meaning of Christmas. As Christians, we have taken Advent’s foundation of preparation out of the season. My invitation today, is to stop and use this time to prepare the way.

“So, what exactly are we preparing the way for?” you might be asking; this is a legitimate question, but only one you can answer. I can offer you tips, thoughts, religious meanings, however, it’s ultimately what it means for your life. To help start the process though, I am offering four questions to set you on your journey toward discovery. My hope is you will see the star begin to shine in the East which is calling to you, leading you where you will find what you are looking for.

Are you focused on the birth of Christ? I mean after all, it is “Christ”mas; not Xmas, not “the holiday,” not even Santa’s big night out. When we see things for what they literally are, it can ground us to immediately step back and say, “Wow, I have been going about this all wrong!” We must focus on what we are truly preparing for in the birth of Jesus; although they are great, it’s not presents. It’s everything the representation of Christ being born brings into the world that we strive to be for others: kind, loving, patient, compassionate, forgiving and an image of hope always. Take notice why every manger scene carries an extra sense of beauty this year with each figure representing their own individual stories of strength on a road which led them to the King. Simply put, prepare the way… for the Lord.

Have you created traditions that respect family time and honor values? What happens in our homes is the ultimate view our children will remember as they get older. We are the ones who create extra special stories they will tell later on to their kids and we are also the ones who will be on the receiving end as we get older when it’s their time to visit us. If we are creating positive experiences for those we love with respect and importance, it will take on on new life for each member of the household. Traditions help shape us by always calling us back to happy memories which carry the most special meanings. Prepare the way… with the special things that define what you want this time to be for those you love.

Will you become what you despise in the hustle and bustle of the season? If shopping drives you crazy, don’t do it. If family house jumping makes you angry to a point where the entire day is destroyed, find a better way. If 24 hour Christmas music makes you batty, drive in silence. We have to take control of what makes us joyful while not allowing the world to tell us what we need to be. When we push ourselves beyond the breaking point and become what we despise, the season becomes a negative rather than a positive. Prepare the way… by planning a path which leads to moments of serenity and not periods of nightmarish behavior.

Can you still live life with a child-like faith? Not everyone’s childhood is like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting. Quite often, they end up like George Bailey yelling at his daughter Zuzu while she practices Christmas songs on the piano. Even with that being said, our child-like innocence can lead us to love in places where hurt is fresh, to trust in ways the world says we shouldn’t and to be vulnerable enough to forgive for the sake of others. Children have an amazing looking glass on the world because their view is not stained. We are all born for greatness in our own ways, but humanness can rob us by clouding our vision of what we believe in most. Watch the eyes of child and see the wonderment on their face during what this Christmas time offers, and then find a way to see it their way. Prepare the way… to remove old hurts to once again be open enough to enjoy new loves.

I am asking you to “prepare the way” for something more. A way of opening up to allow magical experiences to captivate you, not with light shows and gifts, but with experiences that reconnect you with who you called to be; quite possibly even a person you once were. In a few short weeks the world will ask us to make New Year’s resolutions. We will write our list, evaluate ourselves and create unattainable goals which will cause guilt and a sense of failure. The good news is, you don’t have to wait for 2014. Surrender your thoughts today to evaluate where you are, what you are doing and where you are going, then ask God, “Have I prepared a way to follow a star which leads me to find you?”