November 20, 2013
Adjusting Our Holiday Focus
"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 hard wood floor covered in shattered ornaments and tangled lights, tears welled up in my eyes.
The frustration over my fallen Christmas tree had pushed me to the breaking point. This was not the first time my decorated tree had crashed to the floor that week. It was the fourth.
After a fun day of picking out a tree, my family brought it home and secured the tree in a stand. When the last ornament was hung, we turned on the sparkling lights and stepped back to gaze at our accomplishment.
We cherished that moment . . . and cherished it again after the second round of decorating. But when the tree fell a third time and the surviving ornaments were sparse, the task of decorating became a chore. So when I heard the tree crash in the middle of the night, for the fourth time, I loudly vowed to never have a Christmas tree again.
My Christmas joy had been replaced with frustration and a small dose of anger. I'd become consumed with winning the battle with this tree and decorating my house for upcoming guests. Before I knew it, my focus was no longer on what was really important.
In Luke 10:41-42, Jesus told Martha that she'd lost her focus on what matters most: spending time with the Lord. Martha was so bent on planning the perfect dinner party and completing her tasks, she was too distracted to take time to enjoy the company of Jesus.
Her pursuit of perfection left her frustrated with her sister Mary's lack of help to make things "just so."
When Martha voiced her irritation to Jesus, He gently reminded her that she was worried about aspects that didn't matter. "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'" (vs. 41). Jesus wasn't bothered with how fancy dinner was, or how clean her kitchen was, or if she had a perfectly decorated home. What really mattered to Jesus was Martha seeking Him.
This season—when our focus should be gratitude and on the birth of Jesus—we can get easily distracted by other details. Gifts to buy and how much they will cost. Social outings and what to wear. Decorating our homes (inside and outdoors). Cooking and cleaning to prepare for guests or parties.
It's easy to get swept up in many things and forget to stay connected with, and focused on, the one thing that really matters.
Just as busyness, cooking, and cleaning pulled Martha's focus away from Jesus, the same can happen to us in the fast pace of the holidays. Whether basting the perfect turkey or re-decorating an unstable Christmas tree, if we allow it, there is plenty to distract us and lure us away from the one thing that matters most.
Might we make a commitment to adjust our focus this holiday season? Let's slow down, pare down, and sit down with the Lord each day as we set our thoughts on being thankful. And remind our hearts to be blessed by the birth of our Savior, instead of being stressed over the season.
Dear Lord, I tend to get stressed during the holidays. Help me stay focused on You, and not get distracted or frustrated this season. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Stressed-Less Living: Finding God's Peace In Your Chaotic World by Tracie Miles is a wonderful resource about peace and eliminating chronic stress. Order before December 20th to receive a signed copy!
Avoid seasonal stress and make Christ the center of your holiday this year with practical tips from Tracie. Sign up for her "Managing Holiday Stress" Conference Call series byclicking here. And don't miss out on the LIVE Facebook holiday party. Join the fun by clicking here!
Decorate your home with a set of the Adorenaments gold and silver ornaments. Each set includes seven different names of Jesus (such as Emmanuel), and a beautiful devotional booklet to read as a family about the importance of each name. Click here for more information.
Reflect and Respond:
Have you allowed a particular frustration or disappointment to pull your focus away from Jesus?
What holiday plans or activities might you need to adjust to stay focused on Jesus, and not seasonal busyness?
Colossians 3:2, "Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth." (NLT)
© 2013 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.