Posted by: mikenicholsblog | November 27, 2011

guard your peace

As I write this article, there are exactly four weeks until Christmas Day. Most of us had a bit of relaxation and feasting this past week while celebrating Thanksgiving. My only regret is the lack of discipline I displayed on Thanksgiving Day … far too much feasting! I am sure you can relate to my regret. But with the feasting and relaxation coming to an end, we all start gearing up for the mad rush to Christmas. Truth be told, most people get to Christmas Day regretting the pace of the season and lack of emphasis on our Savior’s birth. As we begin our four weeks until Christmas, I would like to be the voice of reason.

There is a bit of conflict in us all as we think about the next few weeks. Everyone likes to give and receive presents, and attend parties at work or with friends while getting into the Christmas spirit. Coupled with our enjoyment is the number of gifts we have to buy, the number of parties to attend, the nonstop pace, too much traffic and too little time to relax. There is not much you and I can do about the external pace of the season, but internally we can prepare ourselves to have fewer regrets as we celebrate Christmas. I trust that some thoughts that have encouraged me will help you gain perspective.

In Tim Hansel’s book, When I Relax, I Feel Guilty there is a poem that I have used in previous posts. Today I want to use just a couple of lines that can be a constant reminder to us all over the next few weeks.

Slow me down, Lord.
Ease the pounding of my heart by the quieting of my mind…

Remind me each day that the race is not always to the swift; that there is more to life than increasing its speed.

Our pace will tend to move faster over the next few weeks. Correspondingly, our stress level will rise without a conscious choice to slow down. We can balance our pace by cultivating a quiet heart that comes from time with the Father. Slow me down, Lord.

A quote from Gary Thomas’ book, Thirsting for God sums up the struggle we face in life, which is amplified during the Christmas season.

“Living a busy life is like running a marathon—we tax our ability to care, our ability to focus, our strength to manage disappointment, our sense of peace and rest. Consequently, we live on the edge of exhaustion, irritation and anger. We have to re-gather ourselves, guard our peace, and focus so we will be free to care about the things that really matter and fully give ourselves to the tasks that God calls us to address.”

If we are not careful, our emotions will get taxed in the next few weeks, causing us to lose our ability to focus on what’s really important and miss the voice of God. There is no better time for you and I to focus on guarding our peace. After all, aren’t we celebrating the birth of the Prince of Peace?

If you and I are to guard our peace, we need to apply the words of Psalm 46:10: Cease striving and know that I am God. The Hebrew word for cease means to relax, which is counter-intuitive to how we are compelled to live during the Christmas season. But God’s design for His followers during this season is to cease (relax) striving and depend on Him.

Could you and I begin each day during the next four weeks this way? “Slow me down, Lord, because my desire is to live today with a quiet heart and guard my peace. I will cease striving because I choose to depend on Your control for the events of this day. I will relax!”                        

 …  Choosing to live this way can create a Christmas with no regrets

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