Preparing our Hearts for the Holidays

Autumn is upon us and it is incredible! Not because of the typical pumpkin spice and apple cinnamon everything — although those things are wonderful — but because this season is so special! It is special to me because this is the season when I began dating my husband and when both of my children were born, but it’s also special because this is the time we, as Christians, can prepare our hearts for the upcoming Holiday season.

Whether it be the stress of unexpected guests or the anxiety of hosting large gatherings; the Holidays can be overwhelming. When I think of the upcoming season, I immediately think of the story of Martha and Mary.

To summarize, Luke 10:38-42 goes into the story of Mary and Martha, who were sisters. The woman named Martha welcomed Jesus into her home. Once inside, Mary sat at the feet of Jesus and listened to His teachings. Martha, distraught about having to serve everyone alone, complained to Jesus. His answer was simple:

“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
– Luke 10:41-42

This passage in Luke speaks volumes to me and I would like to share with you the ways God has put on my heart to help us prepare, and ultimately thrive, this Holiday season.

Sit at the Feet of Jesus

Follow Mary’s lead and do what Jesus describes as necessary. Think about that for a moment. How many times have you caught yourself doing things other than the necessary? The one thing that must be done; the one required thing of you. Jesus makes it clear where he would like Martha’s priorities, don’t you think He wants the same for you?

No matter the difficulties you face this season, no matter where life is leading you, no matter which obstacles you are facing or are about to face; by sitting at the feet of Jesus and listening to and learning from Him, you can overtake anything. When we get busy, it is easy to become distracted and to fall away from God. It’s easy for worldly issues to take precedence in our lives and to forget whose we are, but when we intentionally sit at the feet of Jesus and keep our eyes on Him, it’s easier for us to do the one thing that is necessary from us.

Start now. Make your time with God intentional, beginning now. Wake up earlier to dig into Scripture before your family wakes up. Take advantage of naptime or even read the Bible with your kids at bedtime. During the Holidays, sing Christmas carols and read Scripture while including your guests and your family.

I don’t know about you, but there’s no place I would rather sit than at the feet of Jesus.

Learn to Minimize Expectations

We are naturally sinful. It is easy for us to be pulled away from the feet of Jesus when we aren’t enthralled in God’s Word.

“But Martha was distracted with much serving.” – Luke 10:40

Distracted. Martha wasn’t focused on Jesus, even though she was a disciple; in the moment of the party, she was so distracted she didn’t take the time to spend it with Him. Whether it was preparing the meal, cleaning, etc., Martha was undoubtedly distracted and neglected to spend time with the most important person in her presence.

How many times have you found yourself pulled away from the party? If you’re anything like me, it’s probably been more times than you would like to admit. By minimizing our expectations, it enables us to focus on the things that truly matter. Forget the dishes until after your guests leave. Don’t worry about how perfectly clean the floors are or how fluffed the pillows on your guest bed are. By focusing on spending more time with your family and friends, you will ultimately bring them and yourself closer to the feet of Jesus.

Be Hospitable

Although this passage seems to be pointing out a few of Martha’s flaws, we can’t forget how Jesus ended up at her house in the first place. She invited Him! She was generous and she invited Jesus into her home.

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. – Luke 10:38

Although hosting many guests can seem daunting, there are few things as personal and rewarding as inviting your guests into your home.

I am a “Martha”. When I have guests over I tend to clean and cook and focus on tasks that need completed but lately, I have been consciously staying at the feet of Jesus. I have been intentional about my actions and have been taking into account the bigger picture, trying to shift my focus from the dirt on my floor to the dirt on my feet, which has kept me humble. No floor is completely clean all the time. No window is always free of toddler smudges. It’s called life and it shows we are all human.

True story: We recently had two of our dear friends and their four children stay with us. Their kids are amazingly well behaved and very respectful but just having that many people in our home could have easily been overwhelming. Instead of focusing on the small things that could have gone wrong, I decided I was going to enjoy every aspect of their visit. You know what? I did! I focused on our friendships and the people who mean so much to us, rather than the tasks at hand, and it was so rewarding.

Martha got it right! She invited Jesus into her home and gave herself, and the others present, the opportunity to learn from Jesus. What a blessing! I challenge you to open your home, welcoming in others. We never truly know where everyone is on their spiritual journey, or in life, in general. Someone may need a friend, a warm meal, a place to sit and talk over a glass of wine or a cup of tea.

You may never know what a true blessing you could be to someone else.

Practice Saying Yes

I can imagine Jesus was invited to a lot of events that He probably didn’t have enough time for in the day.

Sometimes life gets in the way. Sometimes it is our kids or a career or priorities that prevent us from saying yes to an invitation but more times than not, it is an excuse. Ask yourself this: How many times in the past six months have you been invited to something and you declined, not because of a prior obligation but simply because of an excuse?

As Christians, we have a high calling. We are called to speak the Truth and to extend God’s grace and love to others and how are we to do that if we don’t allow ourselves the opportunity? This Holiday season, I challenge you to say yes as many times as you can. Stepping out of your comfort zone may just grant you the greatest opportunity or experience of your life.

Choose the Good Portion

“Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
– Luke 10:42

Let’s think about this for a moment in literal sense. Jesus is our portion. We are Christians so we are called to be generous. When someone is generous they want to bless others by sharing what they have. Isn’t that what we are called to do with Jesus? Aren’t we called to disciple and share the Gospel with others?

Jesus is not only our portion, He is our good portion and once we find Him, we remain in Him. He is a constant. Above all things we should be choosing Jesus over false idols, worldly issues, and self-righteousness. We can be hospitable, say yes to invitations, and be good people all day but when you choose anything but the good portion; you are denying Jesus.

By sitting at the feet of Jesus, you are ultimately equipping yourself to share your good portion of Jesus with others. You are filing yourself with the knowledge of God’s love and grace. When better to fill yourself with God’s Word than before the Holidays so you can share this with your family and friends?

This Holiday season, I urge you to sit at the feet of Jesus and learn all you can from Him, then practice your hospitality while at the same time, lowering your exceptions. I challenge you to agree to step out of your comfort zone and say yes when your initial thought is to say no. I can almost promise the outcome will be nothing but blessings.