Distracted by All the Preparations

“Jesus and his disciples...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 [Jesus] 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 only one thing is needed.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.'" Luke 10:38-42

Tis the Season of Preparation... And we relate with Martha, don’t we? (I know I do.) She was busy making preparations. (Would you like to hear my list of Holiday Preparations? I'm guessing you have one that is somewhat similar.) She wanted only the best for her guests. And so do we! We want to make this coming Christmas, the celebration of The Birth of Christ, the best-one-ever for our loved ones. So, in these weeks of preparation - like Martha - we hurry about, allowing our hearts to become distracted by all the busyness.

I tell myself that my intentions are only the best. I attend the Advent services, the Christmas programs, the recitals. I decorate my home with reminders of the Savior's birth, cleaning and preparing for my guests. Even the gifts I give and the sentiment in the cards I send, share with each recipient the message that Jesus is the Reason for the Season. Yes, I definitely want Christ at the center of my preparations...there is just so much to do! And I let all these good things distract me! I get so busy and stressed by it all, that I find myself grumbling, as Martha did: “Lord, don’t You care that I have all these preparations to make for Your Birthday?!  Won’t anyone help me?  Why do others seem to have peace and calm as they prepare for You to come, while I am busy doing all the work?”  I become worried and upset - distracted, as Martha was, by all the preparations to be made.

Jesus did not scold Martha for what she was doing. After all, her preparations, too, were for the Lord. Instead, Jesus gently reminded her what was better. Jesus tenderly redirects us as He did Martha. The world around us is shouting, “Prepare!  Prepare to buy presents & shop-till-you-drop!  Prepare the cards, the candies, and the creche; prepare for the parties and the programs!  And you MUSN’T forget ANYTHING!” 

Meanwhile, the Lord whispers, “Prepare!” And we cry, “But, Lord, I HAVE been making all these preparations!”  “I know, my child... but have you forgotten to prepare your heart for me this Holy Season? You are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Place me first in your days, and all else will fall into place.” (Hmmm…do you think, perhaps, if I put Him first, that some of those all-important, must-do preparations won’t seem so urgent anymore?) 

The Christ Child will come…whether the guests who come to my house see it cleaned and decorated or not. The Babe in the manger will arrive, whether my Christmas cards arrive on time or not. The Greatest Gift of all will be delivered to me and to my family on Christmas eve, whether the presents are delivered or not. Will I miss it? Will I miss savoring the celebration of His birth for all of my well-intentioned preparations that have become my distractions?

We long, like Mary, to sit quietly at our Savior’s feet, hanging on to His every word. Mary’s heart was not distracted that day, but fully devoted to Christ. We are told Advent is the season of preparation. What is TRUE Advent Preparation? It is a time to prepare our hearts for the coming Christ! We hear the call of John The Baptist to repent:  “Prepare the way for the Lord; make straight paths for Him!” (Matthew 3:3) 

As we prepare our hearts for the coming of the the long-awaited Messiah - Immanuel (God with us) - the Babe in the manger, we are also preparing for His triumphant return when He takes all believers HOME to be with Him in glory in the final resurrection!

How can we prepare? Much the way we would prepare our homes for an important guest. We would spare no effort to get everything in order for the occasion! For this most-important Guest, we reach into the furthest corners and bring out every bit of the dirt and filth - our sins. We cannot clean them on our own; by the Holy Spirit's leading, we lay them before our most-important Guest. We repent of our sins to the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ Himself, whose death and resurrection saved us from these sins; who lovingly chose us as His very own. He washes us clean. He then gently leads us to sit at His feet, to do the "one thing needed" during this busy season: spend time in His Word and in prayer. And as we do, He takes all of our worries, cares, and distractions, and replaces them with trust, peace, and devotion. 

I pray for each of you, during this Holy Season of Preparation, that your hearts would not be distracted, but devoted to our Lord and Savior. By His strength at work in you, may you keep Christ at the center of your heart and the center of your activities as you prepare for Christmas. Place Him first; sit at His feet. 

1 comment:

  1. I had one of those distracted moments the other day while out with my son, and he said, "I thought this was supposed to be the happiest time of the year." I think we'll take a step back relax and enjoy this season, focusing more on our relationship with God. Thank you for this post.