Stay With Me
I am the only one awake as the Christmas tree gently creates ambiance for my morning contemplation. As my brain flits from topic to topic my eye catches the cup I have mindlessly chosen for the morning. Looking at it I realize that I don’t know what it says. Pulling it closer I see that alongside of Snoopy are these words: “Happiness is a little PEACE-and-QUIET.” “He’s not wrong” I think so loudly it’s almost audible. Startling me out of my thoughts, my once docile canine companion Jax, takes off running across the living room. He is barking passionately at our cat Deb…he wants to play…she never obliges. I jump out of my seat to stop the chaos…“how quickly my atmosphere and mood have changed,” I think.
With Jax tucked under my arm, I settle back into my chair looking for the zen I had enjoyed just moments prior. With my heart racing, the ambiance is broken. My eye catches something on the floor, a spill. Are you kidding me? As I begin to look around I see items out of place and chores that beg to be completed….grrrr. I am irritated. This is a bust.
“Look for me”…the quiet request arises out of nowhere.
I feel resistance. I don’t feel like playing today… “find me,” the Lord urges a little more forcefully.
It’s a voice I have sensed many times. I know it well. This is the Lord's invitation.
…even though I am not in the mood, reluctantly and half-heartedly, I accept.
My eyes scan the room, eventually settling back on the tree I had admired earlier. Without glasses on the tree has an abstract glow. I let my eyes soften as my body begins to relax back into the contemplative space I had intended for the morning.
“Where are you?” My breathing begins to slow down and my curiosity returns. I close my eyes wishing I could reset my body to discharge the tension I had absorbed so quickly…I want a “do over.” My sour attitude threatens to return but I catch myself. I must intentionally change my attention focus if I want more.
…With a deep breath, I accept wholly the invitation from the Lord to “look for him…”
“What do you want me to know today?” This is the question I have asked the Lord every day for the last 10 days. “What is your message for me today?” I sense nothing yet… but he always answers…sometimes I have to wait but he ALWAYS comes through…He wants me to know his heart for me…
I pull out my camera to take a snapshot of the softly glowing Christmas tree. I want to capture this moment. As I zoom in the camera in for a closer shot, I catch the reflection of a picture hanging in the background. Without glasses on, I can’t make out the image but behind the lens of the camera I see clearly a picture that makes me smile. It is a true image of fondness and affection. As I put down the camera the image blurs back out of focus. Interesting…behind the lens it is clear, in my natural state it is merely background noise.
‘Ahhh Lord, I think I found you in the truth hidden behind my myopia. I can choose my focus. Thank you for the gift of connection,’ I whisper knowing it is TRULY a gift. My whole body feels calmer as I notice the banner across my tree that reads “JOY TO THE WORLD.” I love that banner. Unconsciously the song plays out in my mind but I don’t notice until I am saying the words “let earth receive her king.”
My eyes float across the room to the nativity I have lovingly displayed beside a treasured gift that makes me smile. It is an abstract picture of an angel holding a baby…“Ahhh Lord, I think I see you there in the awe of a baby king mixed with the gratefulness of the gift in friendship…”
Closing my eyes, I settle more deeply into this moment and the new truth. I feel grateful for the soft blanket snug around me. I can feel it now that I am quiet inside. I notice the rhythm of my breath and it is soothing to me…in the distance I can hear another disruption. “NOT THIS TIME, you are not stealing this moment from me… Ahhhh Lord, I think I found you right here, in the gift of this moment--in the ability to push away the distraction and keep the peace settled within…thank you.”
Come to Me all who are weary and I will give you rest…hmm, an invitation to be with you…no stay, STAY with you. I need this prompt as I often get ahead or fall behind, stuck in the unresolved moments of the past or attempting to predict and control the moments that will make up the future.
“Stay with me”, you say. That’s it!! That IS what you want me to know today, you want me to remember all day long to stay connected to you--not rushing ahead or lagging behind. I grab a pen and jot it on my hand for quick reference throughout the day.
“Stay with me.” This is BIG!! You have made provision again and again so that I can do just that…stay with you. In the beginning you made man, to be with you. And because sin separated, you sent Jesus to be with us, then you sent the Holy Spirit…all so I could always have you with me. Love compels me and I realize, I WANT to stay with you.
I smile as I realize the trip we have just been on…wowza, we can cover some space together you and me. My eye catches the cup beside me, “Happiness is…when I can stay with you,” I think. I found you Lord, I found you right here in this moment. Like the startling distraction of the barking, each day’s events and worries try to pull me away…but happiness is found staying in the moment and focusing on what is in the now--WITH YOU. A cry within me makes it clear: I don’t want to be anywhere you are not, Lord!!
Finding the gifts in this moment means focusing on what is good and of “good report…think on these things” I am reminded…That’s hard. It’s a lot easier not to focus on the mess when I don’t have my glasses on…maybe I should leave them off today, maybe that would keep me focused...but I would also miss a lot…The expression on the face of my child across the room, the adorable playfulness of the kitten at a distance…the clock--to keep me on schedule for the things I desire to do today…on second thought…
Then it occurs to me that I can do both. I can see far away and intentionally choose what I am going to focus on in the now. Intrigued by this idea I run to put on my glasses…NOW what do I see?
With my glasses on I see a completely new perspective:
…my eyes catch the nativities intended for play, reminding me of Jesus’ previous invitation to playfulness…I feel warm inside as I look at all the little intricate pieces of the set…I like little things…
…I see the kitten pouncing and flitting playfully with a leaf that has fallen from the beautiful poinsettia gifted to me by a dear friend. My smile widens as I think about the fun Josh and I have had with our new “grandkitten,” it’s all fun-no litter. It’s foreshadowing of the future, but we laugh when Megan walks in the door asking “where is my son?” I truly enjoy watching my kids at each new stage.
…I see the knitting yarn and it reminds me of the joy I receive from creating and the new-found excitement of learning to knit…
“Let earth receive her king.” As I reach for baby Jesus from the nativity, what is written on my hand catches my eye.
“Stay with me.”
YES! I think I will!!
It’s gonna be a good day, I say out loud as I let out a deep breath, it’s gonna be a GOOD day.