That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. Matthew 13:1 (ESV)
When my grandchildren are disobedient (of course, they never really do anything wrong), and my adult children discipline them, they put them in “time out!” I hate hearing the little ones cry, but I recognize that they really do need to just sit for a minute. I know when they regain their composure, life will be great, and they can get back to their toys. I also realize there are days when I need to put myself in time out. There’s no time of year when I am more in need of time out other than Christmas. As a follower of Christ, I love this amazing time of the year, but I admit it is my busiest time of the year. Some days I need a time out; it’s that simple!
Another parenting technique my children use to guide my grandchildren when they are pitching a tantrum is to tell them to hold their hands and gain self-control. I can tell you right now, if holding my own hand would give me self-control, I’d super-glue my hands together!! Amazingly, somehow it works for the children, but not so much for me. I remember an occasion when Kayla was about four years oldand had gotten in trouble. As she was crying, I said, Kayla, Mimi hates it when you get in trouble; I hate to see you cry. She looked at me with her beautiful eyes, and said, Mimi, I guess I just need more self-control! I laughed, and said, Sweetie, so does Mimi!
I do need self-control. I do need to take a few time outs. And nothing exposes this more than the holiday season. I would like to blame “worldly Christmas activity” instead of blaming my lack of self-control, but I know this really is my issue. No one makes me eat too many desserts. And no one makes me push myself to the point that I stress out everyone around me.
When I read the gospels, I notice that Jesus often went away to pray and find myself wondering how He did that. He waited thirty years to start His ministry and only had three years to train those un-educated disciples how to disciple. How did He find the time to get away and pray? Jesus healed people, raised people from the dead, and caused a movement within the Jewish community. For goodness sake, he had huge momentum! How was there really time to rest and pray? Why is it that we worry about getting everything done and making the most of the moment yet Jesus never skipped His prayer time because of a time crunch or an appointment on His calendar?
Jesus gives us plenty of examples of what He considered important. He tells us about His friends—Mary and Martha—who had the same issues we have. When Jesus visited them, He took twelve of His closest friends with Him. Can you imagine trying to serve the Son of God and His disciples with a small kitchen and a sister who enjoyed sitting around? I think Martha gets a bad rap because she wanted everything to be special for Jesus. Jesus did deserve the best. Read their story in Luke 10:38-42. Martha is busy serving Jesus while Jesus and Mary are just enjoying each other. Let me point out how stressed Martha is: she actually tells Jesus what to do! That is a great example of what stress in serving will do to you!
There are many great principles in this story but I want to concentrate on one in particular. To really enjoy the people you love and truly serve them, you need to just sit! I’ve discovered in my old age that one of the greatest ways to serve Jesus and His children is to acknowledge their presence, give them my attention, and allow the quietness of being with them to be my greatest joy. I have no desire to make anyone feel guilty for being busy and doing for others—especially Jesus. However, I do have a desire to learn what Jesus said He considered GOOD versus BEST. In Luke 10:42 Jesus tells Martha, “…but one thing is needful: for Mary hath chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” Jesus isn’t telling us it’s wrong to accomplish tasks, but He is pointing out that our to do’s will never all be accomplished. Before we mark off all the items on our list, more tasks will be added because there will always be more work to be done.
When we “just sit” for a minute or two at Jesus’ feet, the things we gain from being with Him will forever be with us. Christmas will come, and Christmas will go. Your children will come, and your children will go. Your friends will come, and your friends will go. Nothing stays the same. Who you enjoy now may not be who you will enjoy next year. What you find so important today may not be as important tomorrow. But Jesus will always be with us. Gabriel told Mary she would give birth to Immanuel, “God is with us.” Do you want to find yourself so busy that you are unable to sit for a moment to enjoy Jesus? I didn’t think so!
In closing, I want to encourage you find a quiet place and put yourself in time out. Grab a cup of coffee, hot tea, or water (for my healthy friends). Open your Bible to the Gospels and read about Jesus. After reading about Him, talk to Him. If you are quiet, you may hear a small voice in your heart saying, Thanks for sitting here with Me; you have chosen the better thing. The opportunity to just sit and communicate with Jesus will be your early Christmas present. But first, you must “just sit!”
Further ReadingLuke 10:38-42; Luke 11:1