The holiday season is around the corner and, as our hearts warm at the delights that the season brings, we can also feel an enormous weight. I have been there…that place where we have the vision to make Christ the focal part of Christmas. But amid our attempts, the pressure and exhaustion mount from striving. Feelings of emptiness tend to bubble up. The outcomes aren’t hitting expectations and we can begin to wonder what God intends for His children during this time. 

Martha, Martha, Martha (or insert my name…)

Jesus, the Messiah, was coming to dinner at Martha’s house. I suppose, like most of us would want, Martha wanted to offer her best dishes and tastiest meal…to be served to the Son of God. Martha was “…distracted with all her preparations,” while Mary was “seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word.” And Martha, probably feeling overwhelmed and drained, turned to Jesus and asked Him to prompt Mary to help. 

Can you relate? I sure can, especially after hosting the Thanksgiving meal or a Christmas party? It’s a similar scenario during the holidays when our heart wants to honor Him, yet we get distracted with all the preparations. Well, Jesus responded, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” I picture the compassion in Jesus’s eyes toward Martha conveying He never put those to-do’s on her list. He desired that she rest at His feet and cease striving.

Only one thing is necessary

What Jesus called the “necessary” thing or as another translation says “what really matters” was exemplified by Mary. She had an attitude of worship and meditation on His words. The One we long to glorify is flat out telling us what really matters. Isn’t that what we should celebrate at the time of our Savior’s birth? What matters to Him? Worshipping Him? God designed us to be worshipers. Jesus knew that by Mary sitting at His feet, she would get to know Him more and she would find intense pleasure and joy. He’s not asking us to break our backs with endless preparation and take on gobs of stress. This time should be such a relief and balm to our soul! God wants us to look to Him and enjoy His awesomeness and presence. This is part of “knowing” Him. And knowing Him more is the essence of the holidays! But how do we not get swept up in the to-do’s of the season, especially if it’s been the pattern of our life when the holidays hit?

Find an anchor

I’m prone to go the way of Martha during this time of year. The holidays, along with my husband’s busy season of basketball coaching can tend to catapult me right into Martha’s world. So, besides staying daily in the Word and in prayer, one thing I’ve done is to search Scripture for a set of verses to memorize and meditate on serving as an anchor for my soul BEFORE the holidays hit. That way, when the seasonal waves of overwhelm and anxiety come crashing, I am anchored by His word and His truths. (The waves have taken me far out to sea before, which is a story for another time but it was NOT fun or pretty! Eek!). I’m excited that this year my anchor is Psalm 121!

Stop, Look and Listen

I find it helpful to reflect on Psalm 46:10, “Be still (cease striving) and know that I am God.” Perhaps the holidays come when there is a chill in the air and darkness falls much earlier sending us inside (or outside to be warmed near a fire!) as an invitation from God to sit with Him meditating on His words and resting at His feet in worship. Also, smack dab in the middle of the hustle and bustle we could stop in the moment, look for where we see God, and listen for His voice. He has many “presents” to give us this holiday season as we seek His presence in the present (see what I did there?). After all, He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. I’m hopeful and prayerful for us to taste and see how good God is during this holiday season. We need to stop striving and instead look and listen for Him.

Emy Johnson currently serves as Lower School Physical Education Teacher at Legacy Christian Academy.  She has been at the school for over 5 years along with her husband, who serves in Athletics, and their 3 sons.

Legacy Christian Academy is Frisco's preeminent Pre-K through 12 Christian school committed to educating students in a college preparatory environment balanced in academics, athletics, and fine arts–all within the context of a biblical worldview. For more information on Legacy, visit our admissions page.