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By Michael Chapman

Holidays, as we grow older, can become more and more about the to-do list, preparation, travel, getting the kids ready (if we have kids), groceries and supplies to buy, and recipes to make. There is much to do to make a family get together around a holiday successful. Yet, in all that, we likely leave feeling more exhausted and worn out than beforehand. How often do we find ourselves giving away so much of our time and energy to make sure the time spent together goes smoothly and well. We look back and say, “Was that even worth it? We’re exhausted.” Perhaps we didn’t even spend much time talking and listening to family members or friends because of our busyness.

I don’t deny that good preparation is vital to creating an environment and setting that fosters a healthy experience. Planning and action are important. However, what if we are missing out on the greater things that are offered because we are wrapped in concern for the preparation? What if our busyness is keeping us from enjoying what is truly important?  

In Luke 10:38-42, Mary chose the better option in the moment over Martha. I imagine we read this and are tempted to say, “Of course! How easy it is to see that Mary chose the better thing. If only Martha would have just taken a few moments to stop and sit with Jesus?” It is easy to read that passage and think of the error that Martha committed, while Mary got it right. However, we have the story in front of us and, after all, Martha was just doing what any good hostess would do, which was get ready the living space to accommodate guests; not to mention, a teacher! But, Mary basked in the teaching of Jesus while her sister let busyness distract her and worry seep in. 

John 12:1-3 is a beautiful scene. Here, Martha is found serving. She’s just got that kind of demeanor that wants to prepare, work, and be busy. What is Mary doing? Wiping expensive oil with her hair on Jesus’ feet. Wow. Just the picture that conjures in the mind is overwhelming, sometimes. Again, I think we get the idea that Mary is choosing the better option here. 

In this day and age, life is busy! There is a premium on getting through that to-do list. Our days can easily end up filled with tasks and boxes to check off. I know life is probably chaotic at this time. Corona has left us all in a state of flux trying to figure things out. Kids and parent are together constantly now, work is done remotely, and chores need completed. Add in the emotional strain everyone is feeling from being around each other all the time (you just don’t love your children as much as you thought you did, do you?), and it becomes stressful. Even though the circumstances are sobering, COVID has left us in a spot to think inwardly and evaluate what is truly important in life. It is unfortunate it has taken many lives perishing and a world-wide epidemic to cause us to seriously consider the pace of life at which we live. 

Amid all we are going through, though, Jesus is with us. He’s asking us to pause for a few. Are we missing out, though? Wrapped in the guise of being successful, is our busyness, preparation, and diligence keeping us from taking time to bask in Jesus’ teaching at his feet? Is the pace of life just so high for you that it is impossible to slow down enough to see Christ sitting at a table waiting for you to recline with him? 

As the people of God, what is our response? At a certain point each day, I suggest it is wiping aside all the distraction and tasks and choosing to sit with Jesus for a bit. I challenge you to grab your schedule or planner and write into it a block of time you will spend reading about God, Christ, and his people. Choose to be in prayer about all your mind is consumed with and be still for a few minutes so you can sense Jesus with you. I know I need to more often. 

Prayer: Spend some time in genuine conversation with God. Let it build your relationship with Him. Then take 10 minutes of prayer and simply listen for His response.   

Action: Schedule time to read the Bible. Reflect upon the things that matter most. Comment on this devotion.

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