Thursday, December 11, 2014
Choose Peace over Hectic
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!"
"Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed -- or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."
As Christmas approaches, many of us run in circles, trying to decorate, plan dinners, buy presents, attend gatherings, and then merely function in the day-to-day hectic that already exists. We may also be busy at work or school or caring for small children, and the preoccupation brought on by the frenetic pace of Christmas makes us wonder if we'll get it all accomplished in time.
My mind is in a whirl as I endeavor to get my school assignments completed, take care of my children and get food on the table. I feel as if I'm in the circus juggling colorful balls that threaten at any time to tumble to the floor. When I finally pause and contemplate what Advent means, I realize how our hurried culture interferes with a true preparation for the birth of the Savior. In my attempt to conform to the "patterns of this world," I don't allow the Holy Spirit to transform me "by the renewing" of my mind. Paul reminds us:
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect
will. (Romans 2:12)
The story of Mary and Martha provides us a good example of the value of time spent with Jesus amidst the hectic of the holiday season. Jesus stops to visit with Mary and Martha. Notice that it is Martha who invites Jesus, not Mary. Yet, rather than spend time with her guest, Martha frantically rushes around to prepare the dinner party. Mary, on the other hand, is aware of the significance of her Lord's presence and sits at His feet listening to His wisdom. Piqued by her sister's lack of helpfulness, Martha approaches Jesus asking, "'Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!' 'Martha, Martha,' the Lord answered, 'you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed -- or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.'"
When reading this story, I can better empathize with Martha than with Mary. I rush around doing what I think must get accomplished, and I miss out on the significance of Christmas. I need to purposely stop running in circles and be like Mary who chooses to slow down and listen to her Savior. In Isaiah 55:6, we read, "Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near." Will you choose, like Mary, to seek the Lord this Christmas, or be anxiously consumed with planning, decorating, cooking and buying?
Prayer: Dear Lord, You remind us to "not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, to present our requests to [You] (Philippians 4:6). And so, we ask You to be with us as we prepare to celebrate Your birth. Help us to slow down and spend time with You. Remind us that peace ensues when we abide in You ("And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:7)). In Jesus' Name. Amen