The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Peace and purpose in being still


December 8, 2017

In 2002, Tim Kasser and Kennon Sheldon (2002) conducted a study called, “What Makes for a Merry Christmas?” These two researchers wanted to examine the types of activities and experiences that are associated with Christmas holiday well-being and fulfillment. They asked the 117 adults who participated in the study questions about their satisfaction, stress and emotional state during the Christmas season. The results of the study found that family and religious experiences were especially significant in adding satisfaction and well-being during the season. On the other hand, when spending money and receiving gifts were the predominate focus, lower happiness and well-being occurred in individuals.

That was really not a surprise to me. Some years I have been so caught up in the Christmas activity that I have been worn out physically and mentally. Many years I have felt the pressure of the Christmas season when buying presents, scurrying around and rushing to meet the deadlines. Further, long lines at the checkout at stores have at times caused me internal tension. Cars stacked several deep in turning lanes of city streets have frustrated me because my planned route home did not go smoothly.

I have found that all this hurrying activity and my self-imposed deadlines have just caused me frustration during past Christmas seasons. This Christmas I am going to focus on the concept of just being still through the month of December. I mean this: In the midst of all the activity, I am going to take the time to be still and contemplate on God, his presence and his purpose through this Christmas season. I am going to give thanks for my family and the reality of salvation through Jesus Christ his son.

The Psalmist reminds us to pause even during busy times and ponder in stillness the promise that God has domination over all the earth, even the hurried and pressured times of our lives. The Bible is time-honored and its wisdom is appropriate for us today. God said, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)

Sometimes we need to stand still so the Lord can do his work in and around us. The old prophet Samuel told Israel: “Now then, stand still and see this great thing the Lord is about to do before your eyes!” (1 Samuel 12:16)

The Lord revealed himself to Elijah in the still small voice. (1 Kings 19:11) Elijah did not find the Lord’s voice in the earthquake, the wind or the fire. After the fire, God spoke to Elijah in a still small voice. The Bible says a “gentle whisper.” It was only in being still that Elijah heard from God.

I am grateful that the shepherds on the hillside were still long enough to hear the message form the angels and then act upon it. Consequently, they found the baby Jesus with Mary and Joseph and then left to spread the good news of his birth. (Luke 2:8-20)

I am thankful that the wise men were still long enough to recognize Herod’s evil motives, thereby changing their route back home and avoiding Herod altogether. (Matthew 2:1-12)

I admire Joseph because he was still long enough to discern that the dream he had was indeed a message from God to escape to Egypt with his little family. There the baby Jesus would be protected from the evil intentions of Herod’s planned massacre (Matthew 2:13-22).

I am thankful that years ago I was still long enough to hear the voice of God and realize that I wanted to give my heart to Jesus.

It is only in being still that we acknowledge the one who is the basis of our whole existence — God. He created us and he loves us and knows more about us than we could ever know about ourselves. We also have immediate access to him.

In filling our lives with duties of the Christmas season, we may find that most of the time we are missing the one activity that would be the most helpful for our total well-being.

For in all of my involvement during this season, I seldom am just still. But it is in being still and hearing God I find real peace and purpose, not only for the holiday season but all the seasons of my life. Maybe it is the same for you.

Judy Brandon is a Clovis resident. Contact her at:


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