We’ve all heard that “Jesus is the reason for the season,” many of us have even sent out Christmas cards with those words emblazoned across them — but what does that phrase even mean? For one thing, whatever the actual date of Jesus’ birth was, we can confidently say that it wasn’t on December 25th … or even during the winter season! So why is Jesus the reason for THIS season? As Christians, we probably say that to be reminded that truly “Happy Holidays” are meaningless, if not impossible, apart from Jesus. I think we say it because Christmas really ISN’T about a benevolent fat man in a red suit who can’t wait to fill our stockings with the latest iPhone or Yellie toy. The purpose of Christmas really isn’t about stressing each other out with unrealistic expectations to give the perfect gifts, or to have the most harmonious holiday in family history.
Personally, I think the “reason for the season,” the reason that we as Christians should celebrate during this season and every season, is that Jesus, the God of all creation, voluntarily left the majesty of Heaven, encased Himself in a mortal body, and came to Earth to be our Immanuel, or “God with us.” Think about that that … God … with … US!
To me, it is a tragedy that while Jesus sacrificed so much to be born in that manger in Bethlehem, to be with us, we make so little effort to spend time with Him today. We may even use the busyness of the season as an excuse not to revel in His glorious presence.
The prophet Elijah is one man who learned the importance of spending quiet time with the Lord in order to be in His presence, and to hear from Him. Let’s take a quick look at what Elijah learned in 1 Kings 19. After wicked Queen Jezebel threatened to kill God’s prophet, depressed and afraid, Elijah ran for his life and hid in a cave in the desert. He desperately needed the comfort, assurance and direction of the Lord at that moment! Thankfully, the Lord did come to Elijah there, and taught him, and us, a valuable lesson.
1 Kings 19:11-13 says:
11 Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.
13 So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
The Lord then went on to speak to Elijah, telling him that he wasn’t alone, that he had more work to do, and that God would be with him. But he didn’t hear that comforting word from the Lord during the wind, the earthquake nor the fire, but only during the stillness that followed. It was then that Elijah heard from the Lord.
The wind, earthquake and fire represent those circumstances in life that are attention-grabbing, that have a tendency to cause fear, anxiety and nervousness, that are always demanding our time and attention. The wind, earthquake and fire can also be the busyness and activity with which we fill our schedules and our lives, especially this time of year.
We’ve almost always got to be doing something. We’ve always got to have some noise blaring. Yet when the big wind came, God wasn’t there. The earthquake came, and God wasn’t there. The fire came, and God wasn’t there. Finally, there was a still, small voice and Elijah went to listen to God. I believe that God is telling us that a hurry-up, noisy lifestyle is not conducive to hearing the voice of the Lord. Turn the noise off! Just commune with Him for a while. Let Him talk to you.
My favorite time of day is first thing in the morning. I get up very early, go into to our living room and open up the Bible just for myself. This was especially important for me when my wife Joyce and I had six kids in the house! I would sit there in the quietness of the morning, before it was even light outside, before there was any activity in the house, and I would read the Word a little bit, and pray a little bit. It started my day off right! And does to this day!
I think this is one thing that God was trying to get across to Elijah. “Elijah, you’re very worried. You’re very afraid. What are you doing in this cave in the middle of the desert? All you’ve been concentrating on is the wind and the earthquake and the fire. Come to Me and listen to Me. I have things to say to you.”
When ministry demands were at their height when Jesus walked the earth, Jesus would separate himself from the clamoring crowds and his needy disciples to just be alone with His Father. If Jesus, God incarnate, needed that time alone with His Father, how much more do we?
During these “last few shopping days before Christmas,” I encourage you to make time to remove yourself from the busyness and … just be alone with Jesus. He has something He’d like to whisper in your ear. Give yourself a gift and take time to be with Him.