“Have you seen them?” the Costco checker asked the woman behind me in line. “The Christmas trees they just put out?”
It was September.
I might as well confess that the dresser drawers in my office are starting to fill with gifts. Amazon is already bringing treasures that I’m squirreling away for December, and I’ve seen Facebook posts telling me how many days until Christmas.
So there’s Costco but then there’s my daily Bible reading through the prophecy brought to Israel through Hosea. It’s not a sweet little read about pretty advent calendars. God is describing Israel as having a heart of prostitution, and the actions of God’s people read naughty, naughty, naughty.
The list of sins is what you would expect –idolatry, lying, stealing, drunkenness, rebellion, deceitfulness, insolence, and arrogance. But the worst sin is terrifying.
The worst sin is something we might do, might be doing right now, and that’s when Bible reading gets mighty uncomfortable. I’ve pulled this list from Hosea chapter 7:
You don’t remember.
You don’t call on God.
You don’t turn to the Lord.
You don’t search for the Lord.
You don’t cry out to God.
You do not turn to the Most High.
The question that follows in chapter nine–the question that haunts me–is this: “What will you do on the day of your appointed feasts, on the festival days of the LORD?” (Hosea 9:5 NIV)
What will you do when you get to your holidays and you want to celebrate me but you haven’t been turning? You’ve just been crossing off the calendar days with soccer practice and getting your winter lawn prep done and squeezing in coffee dates with friends, but you haven’t been turning to me?
What will you do on the appointed days of celebrations, when you have some stirring of desire to turn and worship, but your turning mechanisms have rusted shut?
I’ve been reading The Practice of the Presence of God, by Brother Lawrence. He gives this instruction:
We must take care to glance inwardly toward God, even for a moment, before proceeding with our outward actions. Then, as we go about our duties, we must continue to gaze upon God from time to time. And finally, we must finish all our actions looking to God. As time and much labor are necessary to acquire this practice, we must not be discouraged when we fail in it, because the habit is formed only with difficulty; but when it is formed, everything we do we will do with pleasure.
How do we have meaningful holidays? We turn toward God in our minds, and we turn often. We turn to him when we wake up in the morning. We turn over suds of dishwater. We turn when we’re driving to work on the bypass. We turn while we’re waiting on students or husbands or children to walk into the room. We turn while we’re putting on makeup.
Israel’s list of sins makes me tired, and I even drip tears for them. What will they do when they get to their holidays and their hearts are so empty and they can’t figure out why?
Turn! I say to them while I’m reading. Why don’t you just turn to the Lord right now?
Let me say it out loud to us, “Turn!” Do we want the holidays to be rich and meaningful? Then we have to develop a habit of glancing, glancing, glancing toward God in love and adoration. All day long. A habit formed that will bring true pleasure into our holiday worship. We can do this right now, and it will cost nothing except some mental energy.
Give a glance toward the Father right now. See him and smile at him and tell him thank you for something. Glance before you move on to the next thing on your calendar.
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