I heaved a huge sigh as I slammed the car door shut. Turned on the car and the gas tank read empty. Exactly how I felt- depleted. I desperately needed to be filled. But yet again, the holiday madness demanded more of me. Gifts to buy and wrap. Cards to send. A pantry to stock.
Every year at Christmas I secretly fantasize about skipping it altogether. What if on December 19th I surprised my family with tickets to a cruise and we hopped on board out to the middle of the ocean and returned on December 26th? Christmas would be over. We’d all be refreshed and memories effectively made. Wouldn’t that be a great Christmas?
Somewhere in the midst of all of this work, expectations of others, and my own pie in the sky expectations I’ve put on myself, I’ve lost the wonder. It all just feels like an endless to do list and a burden to be borne. Yet deep in my heart I long for it to be more. I know it is supposed to be more. Advent season is a time for our hearts to be filled with the wonder of God- that He would come to earth as a tiny babe, stripped of His glory, to save us.
How do I get filled when I feel so empty?
Then it hit me- solitude.
The shepherds out in the stillness of night encountered the wonder of the heavenly host.
Mary, pondered in her heart all that the angel had told her, as she trekked across Israel on the back of donkey, with no one to accompany her except Joseph leading the way out in front- undoubtedly filled with his own thoughts as to what the birth of this baby meant for both of them.
Zechariah, months of being unable to speak, reflected in silent solitude about God’s plan for his people.
Elizabeth, remained in seclusion until her pregnancy became secure, rejoicing that her God had removed her disgrace.
Wise men, traveling for months, day and night, remembering their years of work and research, eager with anticipation to meet a new king.
Christmas- a time to encounter, ponder, reflect, rejoice, remember. A time of eager anticipation.
The LORD is come! Emmanuel- God with us.
As I drove to the gas station, my thoughts full of the wonder of God’s ways, my heart began to fill. This shopping trip, while not what I wanted to do at the time, actually provided an opportunity for solitude. Time with my own thoughts and with God. (Let’s face it, once you’ve shopped with toddlers, a little piped in Christmas music and one hundred shoppers bustling through the store no longer distract you!)
If you’re feeling empty friend, step away with your King.
Ponder, reflect, rejoice and remember all of His goodness and the wonder of His ways. He longs to fill your heart.
Erica Wiggenhorn is the founder of Every Life Ministries. Her latest study is An Unexplainable Life: Recovering the Joy and Wonder of the Early Church, released by Moody Publishers. For more about Erica’s study click here.