It happens every October. I see Christmas decorations and slashed prices on almond bark, and I stiffen. Then commit. This year will be different. This season I will walk in his steps through the holidays.
Because here’s the thing. I can get tripped up by Hallmark movies, Pinterest, and even your lovely social media posts. I have allowed the holidays to wreak havoc in my soul. And I’ve pinpointed the problem. I hate disappointing people. I fear that my gifts, goodies, and get-togethers won’t be enough. And when my focus is on myself, I stumble and miss Christ!
I wonder if you’ve ever had a focus problem? Even if we know where to focus—keeping our eyes on Jesus—we have shorter attention spans than a goldfish! According to a 2015 study by Microsoft Corporation, people lose their concentration after eight seconds, compared to a goldfish’s nine. And some of you almost missed that fascinating statistic because your mind shifted somewhere else!
Focus matters. Because where we focus our feet will follow. So how do we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus? In the fullness of all the next few weeks hold, how do we stay Christ-focused instead of me-centered? It comes down to remembering. Here are three simple discipleship steps to help us get there:
- Remember who Jesus is—his love, words, and ways. As you walk through the holidays focus on his names. Each one is packed with hope and promise. He is Immanuel God with us in the hectic, happy, and hard (Matthew 1:23). He is Wonderful Counselor to the heartbroken, Mighty God to the weary, Prince of Peace to the frightened and frazzled, and the Everlasting Father who looks you in the eye and says, “My child, I love you. I see you. And my love for you will never let go or let up,” (Isaiah 9:6, 1 John 3:1).
- Remember who Jesus says you are. Your true identity is not wrapped up in gifts, goodies, and get-togethers. Your acceptance is not based on what you do or because you have it all together. Your value, worth, purpose, and somebodiness are found in Jesus Christ and outlined in his Word! As you walk through the holidays, focus on the names he gives you. You are beautiful (Psalm 45:11), cherished (Isaiah 43:4), and a jewel—God’s treasured possession (Isaiah 62:3). You are enough (2 Peter 1:3). And there’s more. Go to his Word for the details.
- Walk toward Jesus! Focused on who he is and who he says you are, step in. But understand that there’s no formula for your relationship with Jesus or how you walk through the holidays. As you live in intimate relationship with him, your life is going to look unique from every other person on the planet. It has to. Because there’s no one else like you!
In John 21 after Jesus made Peter a breakfast of bread and fish on the shore of Galilee, he said to Peter, “Follow me!” And Peter turned and looked at John and said, “Lord, what about him?”
Jesus, so loving and patient, said, “What is that to you? You must follow me.” And we see how personal his invitation to walk in his steps really is.
Near the end of Dallas Willard’s book, The Spirit of the Disciplines—Understanding How God Changes Lives, he gives wisdom to walk through the holidays and all days. Willard writes, “Now Jesus comes by where you are and says, ‘You follow me.’ It is for you to work out with him how you are going to do that. You cannot follow him without a plan to serve as the vessel in which the treasure of his life is received.”
Lenae seeks to see God’s grace on gravel roads and other dusty places. She lives with her husband, Mike, on a Minnesota grain and livestock farm when she enjoys reading, time with grand littles, and early-morning runs on gravel roads. As a speaker and writer, she counts it a privilege to strengthen hearts by grace. Please say hello at lenaebulthuis.com.