The Christmas season has been an interesting one for me. Though I tried, it was hard to have a good, spiritual, christian Christmas. I wish I had some good excuses, but the sad truth is that this year Christmas just didn't feel like Christmas. For many reasons, it should have been one of my most memorable holidays. It was my first Christmas with Valérie. My first Christmas in France. The first Christmas where I didn't spend time with either my family or someone from my home church. But it wasn't Christmas. It was just another Thursday.
And I kept telling myself, "Mike, it's time to start thinking more about the advent season, to meditate on how and why Christ came to earth," but no motivation. Nothing. I tried to watch Andrew Peterson's "Behold the Lamb of God," a personal Christmas season tradition of mine for the past 3-4 years, but I didn't even watch it through one time. But, why? I still don't have any good answers, except that all of my surroundings were just unfamiliar enough to make me long for the familiar, and familiar enough to not make me desperate to seek God's face. Here in france there are lights up, and sales and Christmas shopping just like in America, but it's still different. No Christmas specials on TV. No egg nog. No frosted sugar cookies. And instead of celebrating on Christmas day, the God intended, they celebrate on Christmas Eve (GASP!!).
But I guess that's the way everything is in life. For some reason, we are only drawn to God when we really need him. When we're sick, or a loved one dies. After a national tragedy like the September 11th attacks, or we get news of cancer. Between these milestones we say goodbye to a real, living dialogue with God and welcome every other idol that comes within arms' length. For me it is comfort and security. Sorry if this sounds like one of those overly spiritual posts that tries to tell you all what bad Christians you are. That's not the point at all. The point is, that even the most Godly among us get distracted and seduced by the everyday.
I'm learning that I live in a perpetual state of making resolutions and being overwhelmed. Telling myself that I'll read the Bible more or pray more, don't actually motivate me to perform. Actually, when I lift up my eyes to see the top of the mountain I've just promised to climb, I am overwhelmed by the fact that its peak is invisible, stretching far above the cloud line. As my jaw drops and I ask myself, "what have I done?", it sinks in that none of my resolutions will ever be fulfilled. Not while I keep throwing out rediculous, out of reach goals that only a genius could keep.
This year, my resolution was to make a schedule that would help me set aside time to accomplish all of the various tasks I want to perform this year. Something that would give me time to study French, study the Bible and pray, read the bible in a year, study theology, play music, and write more. And I'm thinking about starting to slowly teach myself greek.
I have yet to create the schedule, and astonishingly, it hasn't started or finished itself. But I remain hopeful that it will help me make the most of my time in these days. Working on a schedule has never been my strong point, but I'm learning that nothing worth gaining isn't worth working for, and that even those who are the best at what they do have to work hard to get to that point.
So, here I am, another year, another mountain. But this time, I'm making a plan. I'm going to divide the mountain into sections, and take each section until I reach the top. This year I'm not going to raise my eyes to the elusive mountaintop looking for hope and motivation. Instead, I'm going to, "lift my eyes up to the hills--where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the maker of heaven and earth."