"But the Lord said to her, My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her." Luke 10:41-42 (NLT)
As I stared at the wood floor covered in shattered ornaments and tangled lights, tears welled in my eyes. The frustration and sadness over my fallen Christmas tree had finally pushed me to the breaking point. This wasn't the first time my carefully decorated tree had crashed to the floor that week. It was the fourth.
After securing our top-heavy tree in its stand, my family and I hung decorations on each branch. When finished, we turned on the sparkling lights and stepped back to gaze at our accomplishment.
We cherished that moment ... and did our best to cherish it again after the second round of decorating. But after the tree fell a third time and the surviving ornaments were sparse, the task of decorating became a chore.
When the tree crashed in the middle of the night—for the fourth time—I loudly vowed to never have a Christmas tree again.
I let that tree steal my Christmas joy, and replaced it with frustration and a small dose of anger. Winning the battle with this tree had consumed way more of my energy and emotions than it should have. Before I knew it, I'd completely lost my focus on what really mattered.
In Luke 10:41-42, Jesus tells Martha she's lost focus. Martha was so consumed with planning the perfect dinner party for Jesus, and making sure she completed all her important tasks, she was too distracted with 'things' to make Jesus her focal point. She also got frustrated with her sister Mary's lack of help, which left her feeling agitated and upset.
So when she voiced her irritation to Jesus, He quickly, yet gently, reminded Martha that she was worried about details that didn't matter. He wasn't concerned with fancy food, a perfectly decorated house, or clean kitchen. He wasn't impressed with all the 'things' she was doing. He only wanted her to realign her priorities and fix her attention on Him.
Christmas is when we turn our focus to the birth of Jesus. Yet it's often where we get most distracted by a variety of 'things.' We stress about what gifts to buy and how much they will cost. We fret over what to wear to parties. We feel anxious about gaining a few pounds from indulging in holiday goodies. We work ourselves into a tizzy decorating. We cook and clean to prepare for special guests.
We can be concerned about many things and forget to be centered on the One who really matters.
Just as Martha allowed busyness to cause her to lose focus on Jesus, we can fall into that trap during the holidays. However, it may not always be activities that distract, but concerns over finances, stress over family get-togethers, or yes, even an unstable Christmas tree. It's easy to inadvertently let the chaos of the season lure us away from the joy found in Jesus, the most important thing.
Let's be deliberate to adjust our focus this year on the birth of our sweet Savior, and avoid being engulfed by holiday stress. This change of heart could be the start of a great tradition. One where we remember to celebrate that Jesus truly is the reason for the season.
Dear Lord, I can tend to get stressed during the holidays. Help me adjust my focus to stay on You, and not get distracted or frustrated by problems or obligations during the Christmas season. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Related Resources: In her new book, Stressed-Less Living: Finding God's Peace in Your Chaotic World, Tracie Miles helps you assess the toll that stress might be taking on your heart, mind and body throughout the year, not just at Christmas. If you'd like to learn how to tap into God's peace in the midst of stressful times, click here.
Reflect and Respond: Have you allowed a frustration or disappointment to pull you away from focusing on the reason to celebrate Christmas?
It's not too late to adjust your holiday plans or activities so you can stay focused on Jesus, not all the holiday distractions.
Power Verse: Colossians 3:2, "Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth." (NLT)
© 2012 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.
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