“Are You kidding me, Lord?”
The words form in my head before I can edit them. Even in the midst of holiday hoopla, I know I’m conversing with omnipotence; there’s a certain decorum to such encounters. I smile, realizing I'm also communing with omniscience. Why sweat it?
This is, after all, Christmas Eve, and I know the Almighty realizes this is a hugely busy day for those He came to die for.
I’ve already obeyed Him several times this morning. I woke early, then spent quality time with Him and a few dear friends He laid on my heart. Isn't it about time to get to my chores?
“No, you heard me right, Thea,” He whispers back. “You can choose to ignore Me … but is that really how you want to commemorate My birth?”
I reluctantly seat myself at the keyboard, shooing away fragments of to do lists that are cluttering my brain. The food and presents will have to wait.
The reason I must sit down and write is because the message He’s giving me really concerns all the mania of this time of year. I’ve been mentally checked out most of the week at work (I’ve come to refer to this phenomenon as “Christmas brain”). Task piles upon task as I strive to “get Christmas right,” and I almost resent having to show up at the place that not only represents my livelihood, but also a strong sense of purpose for my existence.
More thoughts arrive unbidden.
“You’ve got another hour, Lord. Then Elise and Aaron arrive, then her father, and he's never been to the house before, and the bathroom's not clean yet, and then we go to Anita’s, and then … “
I had a divine encounter at the super market yesterday. I met up with my son and daughter-in-law to grab the cholesterol and sugar, er, ingredients, needed for today’s festivities. It was the most peace I’ve had all week. Despite the crowds and shortage of parking (we had three vehicles between us), my heart surged with joy to be sharing such madness with two of the dearest people on earth to me. We divvied up the list and finished in short order. I told them I enjoyed every moment of our trip, and I meant it.
I’m ashamed to admit, though, one thing marred my happiness. While scrambling to hunt down my share of the goodies, I bumped into a friend. I haven’t known her long, but there’s a certain depth to our acquaintance that comes from shared struggles. She had been a frequent texting correspondent some months ago, but had fallen off the radar of late and not responded when I contacted her. That’s never a good sign.
She followed along as I shuffled through the peanut butter aisle. At first we chatted about trivialities, but all of a sudden she shared something from the heart. I’m an experienced selective listener (most multi-taskers are), but the down side of only paying partial attention is you can miss important tidbits when you’re in deep speculation about weighty matters like which jar of honey has the best unit price.
I did a mental double take, forced my gaze away from the food fest that had been consuming my attention, and looked her in the eye.
In all honesty, I really didn’t have time for an in depth conversation in that setting and with that company. BUT it behooved me to MAKE time to share my love and concern for her well being, and to let her know I was praying for her. That was all I had to give in that instant, and it had to be enough.
A young boy once had a small lunch which he was asked to share with a great multitude. It wasn’t nearly enough, of course – a couple of fish and a paltry amount of bread. Still, what he had he shared willingly, and at day’s end, thousands left satisfied.
Do I dare offer any less?
The phone rings as I type that last sentence. When my son's number appears on caller ID, I know it means he and his wife are on their way and my time to write is slipping away.
And I haven't wrapped one present yet.
I think of a long ago party such as the one I'm helping to host today. An important guest was expected, one who had never graced that home before and maybe never would again. When the visitor arrived, one hostess served with gusto, growing more and more resentful of her sister, who chose instead to soak in the presence of their prestigious company. It’s worth examining Luke 10:38-42, where Jesus rebukes Martha, the complainer, and commends Mary, the listener:
“Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, ‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.’
And Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.’”
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