December 1, 2017 @ 8:09 PM

As we begin this Christmas season, it is easy to forget the Reason for the season. There are so many distractions. Some are attractive, brightly colored, glittery commercial distractions. And sometimes sadness and loss distracts from the joy of Christmas. I want to challenge us this year to turn our eyes upon Jesus. There is a beautiful old hymn written by Helen H. Lemmel, originally published in 1918, which tells us that if we turn our eyes upon Jesus, “the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.” 

I think it is a worthy goal to intentionally hit the dimmer switch on the things of the world not only at Christmas time but every day. It just might also lessen the stress and anxiety in our lives. Stress and anxiety are a leading cause for people to seek counseling. Life seems to come at us with great speed and urgency. Maybe we should slow down and prioritize what is truly important. Easier said than done, you say. But what if we made a deliberate effort to do just that. One of the treatment techniques for anxiety is to simplify life and off-load as much stress as possible. Breathing techniques, physical exercise, and meditation are often suggested to help with stress management. What if we turn our eyes on Jesus and meditate on God’s word. What if it really works? The principle is simple, the practice takes effort.

The first step is to prioritize the time needed to turn our attention on Jesus and God’s Word every day. First thing in the morning is the best time. This will take some practice. It is the last thing Satan wants us to do, which should give us some indication of how important it is. “I don’t have time in the morning,” I can mentally hear you saying. Are you sure? We all make time for the things that we think are truly important. If it is important, we find a way to make it happen. Please trust me on this; starting your day with Jesus is not a waste of time. It is of infinite importance. I don’t mean in a legalistic way. I mean purposing in your heart to make it happen more days than not. If we say it is important but don’t consistently follow through; it is, in reality, not something we value.

In order for something to be a value we hold, it must be a priority. With anything that is a priority, we must make the time, take the time, and protect the time from distraction.

Consider the stress Jesus lived with during His time on the earth. He lived in a physical body during the time of the Roman Empire. It was a time of significant brutality and persecution. He was rejected by His own people and misunderstood by family and friends. He often had no place to lay His head at the end of an exhausting day. Yet there was no trace of anxiety in His manner. He was characterized by inner calm and quiet tranquility. Through the Holy Spirit, Jesus has given this same peace to all who have a relationship with Him (John 14:27). 

“O soul are you weary and troubled? No light in the darkness you see? There’s light for a look at the Savior, And life more abundant and free! Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face; And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace.”  (Helen H. Lennard, Copyright, 1950 by H.H. Lennard)

Wishing you a peaceful, joyous, and Jesus-filled Christmas,