In the quiet early hours of this day after Christmas, I awoke early and laid quietly thinking of the many people who touched my life yesterday. When I try to describe the day in a word (wonderful, beautiful…), I can’t find one to do it justice. My heart is full. It’s not that the day was not without the usual challenges afflicting families touched by divorce, spiritual battles, health issues, and the like. It was that my soul was joyously content despite, and in the midst of them.
Usually about this time each year, while recovering from the Christmas activities, I am busy organizing, purging decorations and eliminating clutter. But I have been more reflective this December as I consider what has so filled my heart that I have peace and joy in the midst of… life. The first entry in my Christmas journal sums it up with Jesus’ response when asked, “Which is the greatest commandment in the Law, which is the most important?” His response is recorded in the three gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and love your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27
In our crowded, busy lives, that is much easier said than done. Or so it has been for me over the last 58 years. So what changed that in 2014? Spiritual growth. In January I set two goals; 1) to attend my church’s women’s retreat and 2) to stay in a Bible Study. I loved God by making and following through with these commitments. Along the way, the verse that appeared on my path most often (or the one I noticed most because I needed to), was the first portion of Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.” There are many things I have no control over, situations I want to fix, and people I want to help. I must simply learn to trust them to God.
After Jesus’ conversation with the Pharisee’s regarding which commandment was most important, He and his disciples traveled to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to them. Martha was a frenzy of activity, undoubtedly cleaning, shopping, planning and cooking to create the best possible experience for her guests. Like me, Martha probably had trouble delegating such things or accepting help when offered. With so much to accomplish within a tight deadline, it’s easier to do it myself rather than describe exactly how I want it done and then monitor the progress to be sure the results will be as envision.
As Martha buzzed around “distracted by all the preparations that had to be made,” her sister Mary “sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.” I can completely relate to the little tantrum Martha threw, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” Just yesterday I came close to repeating that scene as I was stuffing stockings, tidying up, and preparing the Christmas meal in anticipation of the seventeen family members headed our way. My husband sat enjoying some leisurely time at the kitchen counter, within a dangerously close proximity to me. But glory to God, I caught myself as I thought of poor Martha and Jesus’ response to her outburst, “’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.’” A yearlong whisper to be still is sinking in. I let my husband enjoy his moment and, miraculously he accomplished everything on his agenda and then some without any adverse effect on the day. Thus, began the day that continues to warm my heart with the joy of Christmas.