STRESS DURING ADVENT - RIDICULOUS! MAYBE?
As I write this post, I am thinking to myself that Christmas is approaching way too quickly! I am currently quarantined but that doesn't mean that the days are not moving on. There are still way too many "to do" items on my list and the deadline is quickly approaching. And there is the reason for the stress that many of us find ourselves in during Advent. With the pandemic and social distancing, the stress of finding safe ways to do what needs to be done (or we think needs to be done) is greatly increased!
When we become overly stressed, we very often make poor choices: poor choices on what to do when, poor choices on what to eat, poor choices on how much money we spend, poor choices on..... You fill in the blank.
Lucy's brother, Edmund, follows her into the wardrobe and into Narnia. The White Witch finds him there alone - and is none too happy to see him. Yet she invites him into her sleigh and offers him something to eat. Here are a couple of poor choices on Edmund's part: getting into the sleigh and accepting food from the White Witch. He requests Turkish Delight which is described by Haverkamp as "nutty, chewy, creamy, and delicious, but it goes stale quickly, which makes it tough and tasteless." What the White Witch offers Edmund isn't really the Turkish Delight he has known in the real world but rather an "enchanted Turkish Delight and ... anyone who had once tasted it would want more and more of it." (p. 12) Edmund quickly devoured all of it!
Reminds me of yummy food - and we all have our own Turkish Delight that we can't stop eating. Another poor choice - eating too much doesn't make me feel too good afterwards - how about you?
The White Witch is only concerned for herself and her ability to rule Narnia without interference from Aslan and humans. Reminds me of Herod when the magi do not return to tell him where the newborn king of the Jews can be found. He took care of this infant who was a threat to him being king (even though he was only a baby) by killing all the male children who were two years old or younger. No more threat to Herod if these infants were dead.
As time went on, Edmund could think of nothing but getting some more of that Turkish Delight! Real food no longer interested him. Being in the real world meant he couldn't have more so he began to crave another trip to Narnia to find the White Witch and have more Turkish Delight. Turkish Delight consumed his life!
Have you ever had something or someone consume your life to the point that you can barely function? Maybe it was some kind of food. Or buying shoes, even though you have 20 pairs in your closet. Or buying yarn. Or maybe it was a new person to love in your life (not necessarily in a romantic way, but it could be that). Or an abusive person in your life who told you what you could or couldn't do. Or holding a grudge against someone. Or something or someone else.
When that happens, you become a slave to that thing or that person. Your life becomes nothing because you are so engrossed by thinking about that thing or that person. And so it went with Edmond. He could only focus on getting more of the good thing, Turkish Delight.
Luke 6:33 says: Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty." This is the "food" we crave when we fully understand Jesus' becoming Emmanuel, God with us. Other things become less important and a relationship with God becomes very important. Our spiritual food can be found only in Jesus. And yearning for Jesus in our life does not diminish our ability to participate in this world - in fact, that is exactly what Jesus taught when he was here on earth. We need to interact with others, especially those that are marginalized by those in power.
When we hunger and thirst for Jesus and follow his lead, we are no longer stressed. With Jesus in our lives, we have the peace that passes all understanding. And that is what I crave most in my life! God's peace. Knowing I am following where He leads me. Paying attention to the still, small voice that nudges me to reach out to someone having a hard time.
I challenge you to crave Jesus this Advent season. To find that peace that only comes from him and relieves the stress we place upon ourselves. To listen to and obey God's call on your life. And ponder what it means to crave the bread of life. Think about it.