Above All Else

Suzanne Phillips
March, 05 2019

Holidays…..so many thoughts.  As a mom the word “holiday” sets the wheels in motion doesn’t it?  All kinds of wheels!  The wheels of your car, the wheels on your stroller and most certainly the wheels in your mind. Frankly, the only wheels that seem to be missing as the holidays crank up are the wheels on the roller-skates that we feel we need in order to “get it all done.”   Now, I’ve mentioned I am a word girl so, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that a little word study occupied a bit of my quiet time this morning.  Because this word “holiday” throws so many for such a loop a little research was in order.  Check this out!

The word HOLIDAY comes from the root haligdaeg  or “holy day, consecrated (set apart), Sabbath” meaning both “religious festival” and, get this, “day of exemption from labor and recreation.”  Can you believe it?  Mamas, holidays originally meant a day of REST.  I’m pretty sure that means that Christmas, most especially Christmas, is not a season designed for roller-skates in the kitchen and your own personal meals on wheels but instead a time to rest and remember the gift of Christ and the holy day that ushered holiness into the presence of mankind.

Proverbs 4:23 is the central verse for Hearts at Home 2.0, Above ALL else guard your heart, for EVERYTHING you do flows from it.  Christmas is, perhaps, the most telling time to lean into these words and take a peek inside our heart.

The word guard, in this verse, means to watch over, guard from danger, observe, and be a blockade. In other words, the Lord wants us to not only look closely at our own heart but to be a blockade from those things that provoke our heart to be in danger or dangerous. ( I’m guessing you all have a picture of yourself being dangerous? I do.)

One of the ways I “observe” my own heart is to watch what flows from it.  What is coming out of me? Am I encouraging and joyful or frustrated and short–tempered? These are indications of what is rattling around in my heart.  It is so easy to think  “the holidays make me so stressed.”  But here is what I have learned, if a holiday was the actual cause of stress, in other words stress always came with the holidays, then all people would be stressed during a holiday.  Do you see where this is going?  Holidays themselves don’t make people stressed, stress resides in some hearts and when the pressure of the holidays is applied that stress rises up and bubbles out like a fountain.  For others the holidays cause joy or fun.  For some sadness and loneliness.  Think of a bottle of water without a cap.  When you apply pressure what bubbles out?  Water.  Why?  Because that is what is inside the bottle.  An external circumstance always reveals an internal reality.

So, if you are bubbling up joy and cheer in this holiday season perhaps you could offer a few tips to a friend who struggles with organization and is overwhelmed with her calendar.  Maybe you are bubbling up with loneliness and you haven’t shared your need with anyone.  Would you be willing to reach out and tell someone you feel alone?  Do you feel frustration and control nipping at your heels?  If so, would you choose to set aside a little time to look at all you are attempting to accomplish and have the courage to say “no” to a couple of good things for the sake of really enjoying the best things?

Above ALL else, above EVERYTHING else in our life, more than our families, friends, talents, property and possessions, guard your HEART because EVERYTHING else, life itself, flows from this place. The one who whispered this unchanging key to life, the one who came to bring us the very life that is available to flow from our heart is the Holy One we celebrate this season.  He didn’t “busy” Himself getting ready to see us and He doesn’t ask or need us to “busy” ourselves in order to rest and remember Him.  He simply followed the plan His Father had for HIM and in doing so those He loved were blessed!

Festivities and family traditions have been a part of “holy days” since the beginning of time and they are wonderful!  Jesus Himself celebrated “holy days.”  Enjoy!!!!!!  However, if and when the joy begins to slip away and drown in the “doing” beware.

Let’s actually choose to allow what flows from our heart be an indicator between peace and striving, rest and stress, joy and obligation and calm and chaos. And, when the latter rises up let’s choose to let Jesus take the wheel!  When we hand the wheel over to Jesus He just might say take off your skates, park the car, unload the stroller and don’t over think it sweet one.  Curl up with a blanket, build a fire, flip on the Christmas lights and let Him share His vision for you and your family with you.  After all He came to give life and life abundant.

When we delight ourselves in Him, He will give us the desires of our heart because He knows our heart even better than we do.  He has the perfect holiday designed for YOU and for YOUR family.  Man, the battle to not over – do is real!!  But how often do we over – do and then wish we had a do over?  Big blessings await as we guard our heart and let the those blessings flow from the One we love above all else.

Father, thank you for the opportunity to come to you and be still.  Thank you for the good plans that you have for me and for my family.  Thank you for sending your son, our gift, the King of Kings and the Prince of Peace.  Father, help me to sit at the feet of Jesus and receive His peace as I hear Him say this is the way walk in it. And, Father help me to have the courage to follow YOUR plans and to realize they are specifically designed for my personal good.  Thank you for loving me so well and for the abundant life you invite me to receive each day.    Amen