Time Itself & Christmas Decorations

Written on

January 11, 2020

The Christmas decorations are coming down today.

I have never left them up for so long.

Early in our marriage, it was what I did watching the Rose Bowl Parade on New Year’s Day. While the bowl games played in the background I would pack up the ornaments, lights and nativity sets. It was practically tradition.

Then with the addition of daughters, especially when they started school, I took advantage  of those last few days before their holiday break came to a close. I would leave up the red and the green a little longer – BUT, I always had everything packed away before they returned to school and we returned to the grind of that routine. It just seemed appropriate, a clean slate after all the hoopla of the holidays.

Well, the girls went back to school four days ago with the trees still twinkling. Honestly, this was a real thing for me, but it hasn’t been the source of stress that I would have anticipated if anyone had told me that  our decorations would still be up and out a solid week and half into January.

Usually, it is all about the expectations I put on myself and how I utilize time. This year, however, has been different and my intact, decorated Christmas trees testify to what God is teaching me.

With the beginning of the year, we all hear lots about the significance of the passing of time. Many spend time reflecting over the year passed and dreaming over the year ahead. This year, with the turn of not just a year, but a decade, these reflections seemed to carry a little more weight. I found myself a little more introspective and began asking the Lord what He would like me resolve to for not just a new year, but a new decade too.

The new decade aspect seemed daunting. Facebook friends were sharing their new word of the year and that didn’t appeal to me either. Specific goals seemed evasive. As I prayed and tried to be sensitive to the Spirit’s lead, my perception of time itself kept being challenged. This seemed logical because of the transitional movement from one year to the next.

Where the God-led challenge to my perceptions of time came more clearly was in other ways. My new devotional book, without a dated reading for the new year specifically, spoke about the marking of days and the value of the ordinary day. My Bible study “just happened” to focus on how God is “The God of Infinite Days.” Life, in general over the last few months has been the tool God has used to remind me to hold my days and plans loosely.

 

All of this combined has led me to some truths I am holding to in my present tense:

  • God is the Maker of all my days. Nothing that happens today hasn’t passed through His grace. So no matter what it holds, I can rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:24)
  • God alone knows what each day holds for me. He wrote them before my birth. Nothing about it will catch Him by surprise or make Him resort to a Plan B. (Psalm 139:16)
  • God quietly reminds me through the steady dawn of each morning that He remains, He is faithful and He is with me. The steady, reliable rhythm of every sunrise and each sunset is a beautiful, quiet, daily reminder of who He is. (Lamentations 3:23)
  • God, being outside of time, is not limited by or subject to the constraints and constrictions of time. He never runs out it. He never has time to kill. He set and keeps it all in motion, dictating the perfect timing of all. (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
  • God’s timing is beautiful, yet it is most definitely outside of our understanding. We can trust that He is actively working, making all things good, but we will always be left with questions. We won’t know the how or the why on this side of heaven. He designed time that way so that in our incomprehension, we will learn to trust Him more. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
  • God commands His creation to use time wisely. Wisdom is needed to find the balance between work and rest. There is a sweet spot to be found in the midst of to-do lists and letting God lead. It is my responsibility to find it.  (Ephesians 5:15-16)
  • God is timeless but I am time-bound. He will answer my prayers, teaching me to number my days and establishing the work of my hands. I don’t have to figure this whole time thing out on my own. (Psalm 90:12 & 17)
  • God knows my tomorrows – how many I have and what they hold. This is why I often say, “Lord-willing” when I make plans. (James 4:13-16)

 

With all of this swimming in my head and swirling in my heart, I am trying to apply these truths.

  • I am wanting to let go of the past where I am coveting days gone by or regretting sins committed.
  • I am attempting to let go of the future by not wishing away todays for my perceptions of the next life phase or by worrying about what it might hold.
  • I am pursuing to live today fully, seeking and finding that “sweet spot” by prayerfully doing “the next thing” and intentionally investing in the people God has placed in my time today.

 

This is why my Christmas trees have yet to be taken down and put up in the attic. It isn’t because I am wanting to hold the magic of the incarnation in my heart a little longer. It isn’t because we are celebrating Epiphany this year. It isn’t because I am lazy or even too busy to get around to it.

As I have taken on each day of this new year so far, the decorations have not been a priority as I have sought God’s will for the day before me. This could be seen as procrastination, but my heart has been to do other things – things for and with my family, to sit and be still before the Lord, to meet with that friend and have those college gals over for Rice Krispie Treats and sweet tea.

In my heart, I wrestled and weighed each day my own expectations and motivations. I found myself saying, “It’s not important, especially by comparison,” and “I can do it later and that’s okay.” The Christmas decor became a very visual reminder that He is in charge of my days and the flood of the other truths listed above.

What should I do today, the block of time that God has given me right now? What is the next thing?

I don’t know about tomorrow, but today I will pack up Christmas.

What are you doing today?

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