For someone who grew up in the northern hemisphere where Christmas was marked by cold, short and dark days, where there was only a very short break from school or work, and no ‘end of academic/school year’ events, or long summer holidays, it is always difficult for me to feel that this time of year is actually Christmas. However Christmas time had other positive characteristics, for example, it was often marked by sheer beauty—where snow laden leafless trees etched by moonlight against black sky, gave a magical feel. Christmas lights truly stood out in darkened town or home; snow muffled sounds and air that ‘bit your ears’, contrasted with log fires and hot Christmas food, which at that time could not be afforded the rest of the year. Christmas was different, and special.
There was something else however that characterized Christmas even for non-Christians, something that seems to have gone missing in all the frenetic activity of this southern hemisphere transition to a new year, activity that has caused some to label it ‘Stress-mas’. This missing thing is that there seems to be a loss of ‘Reflection’ – something that seemed common in the dark and firelit days at years end in the northern sphere. ‘Reflection’ means the conscious taking of time to assess where we are at, where am I going, what am I doing with my life? It is much harder to do that here in the middle of all the ‘breakups’, end of school activities, holiday planning, etc, however it is an essential practice for spiritual growth. Indeed ‘Reflection’ is something for which the Bible gives us plenty of tools if we will only use them. How about using these passages (as paraphrased by me) in the next couple of weeks as a basis for some spiritual ’Reflection’ on our life at this Christmas time.
“You ask (pray) but you don’t get because you ask for the wrong thing for the wrong motives” (James 4:3) How much are we trying to head in, and pray for, a direction in life that is not actually God’s will for us at all? Is it time to reflect on what is actually God’s plan for us.
“The number of our days are in God’s hand” (Job 14:5) How often do we reflect on the fact that each day is a gift of God, and a gift that can be removed at any instant. Is there a need to ‘Reflect’ on the fact that we only exist on this planet temporarily by God’s grace, “like a temporary mist that appears for a moment then vanishes” (James 4:14) and for His glory (Ephesians 1). How should this be reflected in what we do with the days God has ‘numbered’ for us which may or may not include all of 2012?
You say that tomorrow I am going to buy this, go to this, study for this but you actually don’t even know if there will even be a tomorrow” (James 4:13) How about reflecting on God’s plans for our tomorrow.
It is a definition of someone who is truly Christian that they are being changed to ‘Reflect’ what God is like, i.e. to increasingly be restored in the ‘Image of God’ (Colossians 3:10). That process will be shown by a life increasingly turned over to God’s purpose.
As the old year fades into yesteryear can we make time, can we find a place, to ‘Reflect’, to create a space, a silence, in the midst of all the frenetic activity that I am sure appalls God; to ‘Reflect’ on our walk with Christ. Indeed are we actually walking with Him at all or doing our own thing? ‘Reflection’ on who we are, through the baby who is Christ come into the world, is essential for our spiritual health. We need to make that time to ‘Reflect’, time to pray and obey, so that we will be heading in His direction for us, for His purpose and painting the picture He wants us to paint on the still blank canvas of 2012 (Ephesians 2:10).