_ Study _
Zephaniah 3:14-17 (ESV)
Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion;
shout, O Israel!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart,
O daughter of Jerusalem!
The Lord has taken away the judgments against you;
he has cleared away your enemies.
The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst;
you shall never again fear evil.
On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:
“Fear not, O Zion;
let not your hands grow weak.
The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.”
_ Read _
When I was little, my favorite thing to do in winter was build a snow fort. After the sky dropped a large batch of white, my dad would plow the driveway, and push the snow into one giant pile on the grass. This made the perfect base for a fort.
Putting on layer after layer, sweating, and almost always having to go to the bathroom right when I was finally all buttoned up, my sister, mom, and I trudged into the cold to build. With a bucket or shovel, we climbed to the top of the pile and dug out the middle until walls were formed. Sometimes, we carved a window into one of the walls, or left a line of snow to designate a different room; we weren’t allowed tunnels, as that could be dangerous, but anything else was fair game.
We scraped, carved, and crafted as the snow delicately fluttered its way to the earth, until finally the fort was finished. When all the work was done, we fell to our knees, and tipped onto our backs to stare up towards the sky. With the cold floor pressing on our snowsuits, we blinked away snowflakes that dampened our faces and listened to the quiet. This moment, when nothing could be heard but our exhales and the ticking of snowflakes as they landed on the crinkly surface of our winter coats, is forever etched into my memory.
There is a lot of magic that comes along with freshly fallen snow, but my absolute favorite part, is the hush that comes with it. Traffic slows, wildlife seeks shelter, and even visual noise is quieted as the dirtiest scenes are covered in sparkly, white snow.
There’s a song called White Snow by Audrey Assad that compares the birth of Jesus to that of a winter snow. The lyrics say,
Could’ve come like a mighty storm, with all the strength of a hurricane
You could’ve come like a forest fire, with the power of heaven in your flame
But you came like a winter snow, quiet and soft and slow
Falling from the sky in the night to the earth below
Isaiah 9:6 says, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Not only did Jesus come like a winter snow, quiet and soft and slow, God sent his son to be the ultimate bearer of Peace—to quiet the noise within our heads, hearts, and souls with His love.
What I’ve learned is, sometimes peace comes like freshly fallen snow – easy, unexpected, and light- but other times we need to choose it. We need to be intentional about quieting the noise around us and listening for the Peace. The best part is we don’t have to do it on our own. As Zephaniah says, through Jesus, the Lord God is in our midst. He is mighty to save. He will quiet us with His love.
My prayer for today is that we might quiet the noise in our hearts and make room to listen to our Savior. Even if we’re standing in the middle of a chaotic room full of people, let’s ask Him to quiet us with His love and find rest in Him who is our Peace.
_ Practice _
Whether it is in our homes with roommates, a spouse, or kiddos running around, in our hand where the world is at our fingertips with a simple swipe, or in our minds where our inner critic simply will not be silent, we are ever bombarded by noise.
Today, I want to challenge you to reduce the noise by taking a break from social media. Every time we read a caption, or look at a picture, we invite another voice into our world. It’s a beautiful thing; but we also need the space to be silent, hear our own thoughts, and listen for our Father’s.
Whenever you read this devotional, take the next 24 hours off social media. Delete the apps temporarily or do whatever it takes to step away for a day. At the end of your social media break, take note – do you feel more rested? Do you feel less anxious? Is your mind more focused on Him who is our Peace?
When you re-enter the world of social media, I’d love to hear about your experience. Share your reflections via #arestfuladvent and tag me @mindykaysl
*If you’re not on social media, take a 24-hour break from another aspect of noise – television, music, or even checking your email.
This devotional is part of the A Restful Advent series.
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