Christianity, Christmas, Running, Spirituality, Uncategorized

Do You Hear What I Hear?

How to make Christmas meaningful? That has been our discussion in Sunday School these past few weeks and one that I struggle with each year. Christmas is a challenge when you have grown up in the church, when every year you have heard the same story about the baby in the manger, the shepherds and wise men. No matter how hard I try, each year I feel hollow during the season, like I am missing something.

The Advent devotional in my Upper Room magazine on the first Sunday in Advent noted that although this time of year is busy and we feel “distracted, depleted and even disconnected from God”, it is precisely when we need to be listening for that ‘still small voice’. That clicked with me. Listening during Christmas. It seemed so simple, yet hard to do when I am always rushing around.

“Be still before The Lord and wait patiently for him;” (Psalm 37:7) I love it when someone listens to me and I feel very frustrated when I feel like I am not being heard. Maybe God feels the same way – maybe He gets tired of me not hearing Him. I decided this could be my gift to Jesus – to listen.

So for the the last two weeks my mantra has been listen.

I left off my earbuds and ran in the quiet and heard the birds singing. When I was busy in the library and a woman came in and started telling me how much she was missing her grandchildren who had moved away, I put aside my pile of books and listened. In Sunday School last week I wanted to put in my two cents, but instead I sat quietly and thought about what the teacher was saying. At the Silver Bell Sprint 5K on Friday, I tuned in to all the jingle bells on the runners’ shoes and to the little girl running next to me who, when I told her “Good job”, told me “Good job” also and we proceeded to have a conversation about how Santa should be out running with us. As the beautiful carols of Christmas have been all around me, I have centered in on the meaning of the lyrics.

I am a talker, but I have noticed this week as I have tried to listen, I have felt calmer – quieter. For the first time in many years, I am not dreading Christmas. I feel less pulled in twenty different directions, more focused.
And God is coming through. Twice over the past few weeks, I have gotten angry and wanted to blast off an email letting the offending person know how I felt.  But I slowed down and asked God to tell me what to do – and heard Him telling me to react out of love, not with the self righteousnes I was feeling.
I keep thinking about the line of the song that I first sang in junior high chorus – “Do You Hear What I Hear?” –
“Said the little lamb to the shepherd boy..Do you hear what I hear? Ringing through the sky, shepherd boy.” What if the little lamb had not heard what the night wind said? What if the shepherds had not paid attention to the star? They would have missed Jesus coming with his prayer for peace. How much do I miss in a day that God is trying to tell me because I am distracted by all the other noises out there?
My gift to Jesus this Advent Season is to listen to the music, voices, and quiet of Christmas – and to see what I receive back. I challenge you to do the same.

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