From Keith Wheeler

I pray that the busyness of the season isn’t overwhelming you and that your life is overflowing with the joy, innocence, purity and anticipation of a little child as we celebrate the birthday of our wonderful Lord and Saviour, Jesus!
One of the greatest gifts that God has given me as I have walked with the cross around the world has been that of slowing down. The world whizzes by at 65 mph (or more) in their cars! Even the joggers hurry on down the road. But God has allowed me to walk … around 4 miles an hour. I’ve found that when I slow down I’m able to see things that those in their cars, or with their running shoes on will never see. I’m able to hear things that they will never hear.
I think this is what God wants from us. To slow down. To see. And to hear. It’s really easy to get busy, especially this time of year. So many of us have allowed our lives to become overscheduled, overrun and overwhelmed. As a result, we’ve become stressed, rushed and hurried – sometimes, even, out of control.  We miss seeing the beauty that’s all around us – a flower along the roadside, a sunset, or the wonder of our children growing up. Sometimes we move so fast that we miss the sounds – the splashing of a mountain waterfall; wind whispering in the trees, crickets chirping and birds singing, or a heart-to-heart talk with our spouse … all a symphony of praise drowned out by the buzzing of our engines, the blaring of our stereo systems, or the business inside our lives.
I have found that when I’m rushing I can’t see or hear very well. When I don’t truly see or hear I’m not able to appreciate. When I don’t appreciate, I fail to experience. And when I fail to experience, I cease to truly live; and I merely exist!
Have you ever heard the saying, “pay attention”? Attention costs. That’s why we have to pay. It costs time and energy. But the rewards are invaluable! We begin to see! We begin to hear! Maybe that’s why God announced Jesus’ birth to some stinky shepherds. They had time. They were waiting. And God rewarded them! Not only did they see and hear the angels … they saw Jesus! I think that, this Christmas, God wants to reward us! I think He wants us to slow down.  He wants us, in a fresh new way, to see Jesus – the beauty of Christmas!!
Have you ever thought that, maybe, the skies over Bethlehem and Jerusalem were FULL of angels? Maybe they were there with the wonderful news of our Saviour’s birth for anyone who would just slow down and look up and listen. Maybe He didn’t just want to speak to the shepherds, but He wanted to tell anyone who would listen that His baby boy had been born. Maybe God speaks a whole lot more than we think He does.  Maybe all we need to do is just slow down and look up and listen. I believe that’s the beauty of Christmas! It’s a time of the year where we have the opportunity to pay attention! God wants to give us the gift of remembering that He is Emmanuel – God with us! He wants to speak to our lives and bring hope, peace; joy that’s unspeakable and love that we can’t begin to comprehend!!
This year, let’s remember that this is His birthday! This is what He wants! He said that His eyes search to and fro throughout all the earth seeking someone whose heart is completely His. Jesus said that the Father is looking and seeking for those who will worship Him with everything they’ve got – spirit and truth! Those who slow down and sit at His feet, listen to His voice and look into His eyes. Those who can look at a baby and see a King! Wow! That’s Christmas!!

That’s why we carry the cross! There is a world that is waiting for these glad tidings of good news! There is a world that is waiting for peace! God also wants us to pay attention to these. Jesus said when we pay attention to the least of these we minister to Him. He wants us to see the needs and hear the cry of those around us. The world is not a place that we need to be angry with or fearful of.  Years ago, I saw that the people in the bars, mosques, or war zones of our world are not things to be avoided, but instead, “kidnapped royalty”! Men and women, boys and girls created to be sons and daughters of the King of Kings. May we see their beauty, and value, and that they were created with a purpose.

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