by Lori Altebaumer @Lori_Altebaumer
Christmas is over. The tree is down, ornaments stored, presents unwrapped, and the calendar that felt stretched tighter than my waistband breathes a sigh of relief.
Perhaps like me, you too are now analyzing our successes and failures and formulating a strategy for making Christmas 2019 even more spectacular.
But before we get to deep in the planning, I’d like to share with you the most valuable gift I received this year.
The gift was from God—as are all the best gifts. It was a revelation I’ve been starting my holidays by reading from the wrong place in Scripture. Like me, maybe you took time to read the Christmas story from the Gospel of Luke this year. And like me, maybe you read it in a hurry because your to-do list was full of the things you believed were important and necessary.
But what if we had started the holidays by reading the story of Jesus visiting the house of Martha and Mary?
“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.” Luke 10:38-40
I’m not going to criticize Martha. I probably would have done the same. Let’s be honest, it’s exactly what I do. As the calendar moves into the Christmas season, where is my attention? The decorations, the gifts, the baking, the parties, the schedule, and so on.
“’Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.’” Luke 10:41
I can just imagine Jesus looking at me and my frantic list making and scheduling. He shakes His head and with a sad smile says, “Lori, Lori, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.”
Only one thing is needed. Don’t miss the word needed here. He doesn’t say that only one thing is good or important. Jesus and His disciples had to eat, and someone had to prepare the meal. There may be nothing wrong with our holiday hustle and bustle. There is certainly nothing wrong with celebrating the birth of Christ or expressing our love for others through the things we do at Christmas. But only one thing is needed. Only one thing is necessary.
And what is that one thing?
It is Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus. Listening, worshiping, soaking in the presence of her Lord and Savior.
What would my Christmas look like if I focused on the one thing needed this year? What if I refused to be distracted away from sitting at the feet of my Lord and Savior?
What if I lived the entire year this way?
The New Year is here. Resolutions have been made, gym memberships purchased (not by me, but I’m sure someone out there has), and goals set. It invites us to a new beginning. An annual do-over of sorts. I have my pristine new day planner and dates on the calendar to meet with writing friends and set our goals for the coming year. I feel the abounding and buoyant hope of a successful year crowned at the end with a near perfect Christmas. After all, I’ve analyzed what went wrong with the last one and formulated a strategy to do better this time around.
But have I taken into consideration the one thing needed? Or am I trying to wedge that in to the left-over nooks and crannies of my days?
It is easy to let my planning become a distraction, pulling me away from the one thing needed. But this year I’m going to use my plan making and goal setting to form a hedge of protection around the only thing that is needed.
In fact, I think I’ll read the story of Martha and Mary, not just first next Christmas, but often throughout the year to make me mindful of choosing what is better.
Move over Mary. I’m coming to join you.
You reveal the path of life to me; in your presence is abundant joy; at your right hand are eternal pleasures. Psalm 16:11 CSB
About the author: Lori Altebaumer is a writer and editor who only half-jokingly tells others she lives with one foot in a parallel universe. She is a wandering soul with a home-keeping heart and a love of words and story. Lori loves sharing the joys of living a Christ-centered life with others through her writing. Now that her nest is empty, Lori enjoys traveling with her husband and visiting her adult children where she can rummage through their refrigerators and food pantries while complaining there’s nothing good to eat here (payback!). She blogs regularly from her website at www.lorialtebaumer.com, and can also be reached on her Facebook page @lorialtebaumerwrites.
Join the conversation: Can you remember when a time of instability or change resulted in something beautiful?