Making A List, Checking It Twice

Tuesday, November 29, 2016
Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Come Thou Almighty King"1 (Lyrics)

Isaiah 40:31 – But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (NIV)

Do you find yourself making lists as Christmas approaches? … things to do, places to go, and things to take … menus, grocery lists … lists of names and gifts …

If you're like me, crossing off an item gives us a feeling of satisfaction: we've accomplished something worthwhile. The downside of list-making, though, is that the season becomes a giant chore. It's a race against time. I attempted to combat stress by starting earlier. I make a note when someone says that they'd like something (yes, another list). I watch for items to go on sale. Little piles grow bigger throughout the next few months. To be honest, it hasn't eliminated the need for lists.

One of my lists involves Christmas cards. When I express admiration for the homemade ones that I receive, I'm told how easy it is to make them. I faithfully keep the instructions for a whole year, then I add the necessary supplies to one of my lists. I begin in plenty of time — after all, I have to keep ahead of the season. Surrounded by paper, glue, and sparkly things, with Christmas carols playing softly, I settle down to create a work of art. Then, I find that I have ten thumbs and can't follow the simplest directions. I need to buy cards after all, and I add them to my list.

It takes days to decorate the house. Though we never use the front entrance, I like to surround it with greenery. We use the back door, so that has to be decorated, too. An open-concept house means decorating the entire space. With two levels, I must decorate downstairs as well, and, of course, the stairs themselves. And why not the bathrooms? I really must do it all before the first Sunday of Advent. Then I'll have December free to enjoy and to worship Christ the new-born King. Right?

But I grow weary. Obviously, I attempt to do too much. Do you have the same problem? I've heard others say that they'll just give money this year, or that they won't bother with a tree any more. I don't think that's the solution. We just need to remember the reason for the season: to glorify our Lord.

Let's ask God what He wants us to do. When we're called to account for our deeds, will Jesus be impressed that our house shone with bling? He came to set us free from all our self-imposed rules. Let's use the gifts that He gave us to do His will. There are specific tasks that He wants us to accomplish in our walk with Him, but that's all we're responsible for. He doesn't want us to tire or stress ourselves. When we do only His will, He gives us the time that we need and fills us with all the energy that we require.

Prayer: Father in heaven, help us to stop the madness and listen for the angels singing in the distance. As the sound grows closer, open our eyes to Your glory. May we celebrate the birth of Your Son in the appropriate way — the way that You want us to. Amen.

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About the author:

JJ Ollerenshaw <>
Belleville, Ontario, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    May it be so JJ.

    Great reminders for all of us!!

    Right on! Thanks so much for today’s offering!

    So true
    Amen to your prayer.

    Yes, JJ peace instead of rush. Have a blessed and joyous birthday of our King, Jesus Christ. Blessings.

    What list are you talking about – friends only? Or do you include others that may not always agree with you. Please think about it… are you sending Christmas greetings to the WRONG people.

    Dear JJ. Ollerenshaw,
    Thank you for the devotional. It keeps getting better to the end: “to glorify our Lord”.
    Amen. May we use the Lord’s gift of energy for his glory.
    But this is the first I’ve come across “bling.”??
    Keep writing.

    Splendid message. Thank you.
    I totally relate. I am a list person too, AND, I have tried my hand at making my own cards. Apparently that is a skill I also need!!!!!
    May you be blessed with quiet moments too, as Christ’s birthday celebrations draw closer.
    Keep on writing,
    Blessings to you.

    Thanks for your wonderful message.
    God Bless and remember … the reason for the season!
    Slow down!
    I shut off the lights, Light a candle, And listen to Silent night and Oh Holy Night.
    Sometimes I even listen to them in July.
    Some years ago I suggested we draw names and set a dollar value. We buy one gift only. Then we buy gifts for a family in need and provide a gift certificate for food for Christmas dinner with a prayer for Christmas.
    God Bless.

    Your devotional was very timely. Christmas can become a mad rush and, as a result, many people resent the celebration. Personally, I have pared it down to very little fuss and have time to enjoy the music and the sense of well being we experience at this holiday. I don’t entertain much anymore, so no baking, I don’t send Christmas cards to just everyone and while I buy gifts for my young grandchildren, which is fun, the adults get a donation made to one of the international charitable organizations on their behalf.
    Now I have time to relax, enjoy the music of the season, decorate my home at my leisure and usually can fit in a homemade gift for family and friends.
    Most of all I can take time to reflect on why Christ was born in Bethlehem.
    Merry Christmas!

    I’m just reading this today. Wish I had read it before Christmas! What a great message.

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