I was somewhat taken aback when I saw “Black Friday” Christmas specials being advertised the day after Halloween. Since when is that retail free-for-all associated with trick-or-treat instead of Thanksgiving?! Yes, it seems the Christmas rush has started even earlier than usual. Don’t get me wrong, this is one of my favorite seasons. My daughter Mary’s late-October birthday officially kicks off our family’s holiday celebrations, which include Thanksgiving and my mom’s birthday in November and my and granddaughter Lyla’s birthdays and Christmas in December. Then there’s New Year’s, straddled by a month’s worth of college football playoffs and bowl games. (In addition to faith and flowers, college football happens to be one of my other passions!)
Yet, even though I enjoy the festivities associated with all these happy occasions, I, like many others, struggle not to feel overwhelmed by my calendar and my to-do list. When I was employed full-time, I would think, “If only I could have the whole month of December off . . .” Well, technically, I’m always “off” these days, but I often quote a long-time friend who I worked with for many years, “I’m so busy now that I’m retired, I wonder how I ever had time to work!”
And so, as I wrote in my last post, it gets back to what I choose to focus on and Who I choose to please. A number of things combined yesterday to disquiet my outlook. As I fell asleep last night, I was still mulling over everything I have to do in the days ahead plus the possibility of taking on some other commitments. I certainly wasn’t following Jesus’ mandate not to worry about tomorrow. As a matter of fact, I was worrying about several weeks’ worth of tomorrows plus things that haven’t even officially made it onto my list of obligations!
Zephaniah 3:17 says “The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” What an amazing verse! Imagine, the Lord of all creation quiets us as a mother calms her beloved child. Sometimes I think he must sing over me while I sleep. When I woke up this morning, one of the first things that came to my mind was Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” With his help, I’ve tried to focus on him today, enjoying the beauty of his handiwork which is exuberantly exalting him with a vibrant array of fall colors. I hope you’ll enjoy the following collage of images. May they help you to be still as well.