Slow The Pace

“I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives, and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor--it is the gift of God.”

Ecclesiastes 3:12-13  

I was reading an article yesterday about Thanksgiving that was talking about why people get sick around the holidays. I use to believe it was largely in part to the change in weather but science disproves much of that due to the fact that bacteria doesn’t do well in cold temperatures. Believe it or not many doctors suggest that the rise in illness in the months of November and December are the holidays themselves and the stress associated with them.

I know from personal experience that stress is the major cause of heart disease and a host of other alignments that if I listed them all here, I would be writing for days. Yet, not all stress feels bad. Sometimes we replace the word stress with what we consider a more positive term, busyness. When I think of busyness as a form of stress the story of Mary and Martha comes to mind. Mary and Martha were sisters who along with their brother Lazarus played host to Jesus when He was ministering in Jerusalem. Jesus wouldn’t stay in the city but rather in the home of His friends, Mary and Martha and their brother Lazarus in a little town near Jerusalem called Bethany.

On one occasion Jesus stopped in for a visit and Mary and Martha were both busy in the kitchen preparing a meal for Jesus and the guests who would be following Him. As Jesus entered the house Mary did something that Jesus commended and serves as a great reminder for all of us during the holiday season. Mary slowed her pace. She finished serving and then she sat. She didn’t just sit and put her feet up and relax. She came and sat at Jesus feet and listened to Him. Martha, her sister stayed in the kitchen and began to get stressed feeling the burden of doing all the work alone. Her attitude went quickly south and not even the joy of getting to serve Jesus a meal could sustain her. She went to Jesus and complained. Bitterness quickly filled her heart that once was filled with joy. Stress and fatigue will do that to us.

Luke 10:38-42 tells us the whole story quickly, “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."

Don’t let the holidays get you so distracted that you miss the chance to sit and fellowship. Martha’s problem wasn’t the serving, it was the much serving that stressed her out. Martha lacked balance, she had no margin in her life and the stress took its toll on her just like it will on me and you. Jesus, lovingly pointed out to His friend she was allowing herself to become stressed by focusing her energy on the wrong thing at the wrong time. Jesus in no way minimized the importance of serving. Jesus emphasized the importance of communion and fellowship with others. Jesus said to Martha that her sister Mary had made a better choice, a better use of her time by ceasing from her work in the kitchen and coming and sitting down and enjoying Jesus. You will never regret the time you spend with Jesus, you will never regret the time you get to spend with those you love.

Minimize the stress in your life this holiday season. Major on relationships and minor on activity. Simply put, slow the pace. Focus on people more than things. Not only will you minimize the illness in your life, spending time together doctors tell us has a healing effect on us. Human touch, words of comfort and encouragement both serve to promote healing. And who hasn’t heard this one, “laughter is the best medicine.” Make it your aim to truly have a Happy Thanksgiving this year by spending time with people, sitting down together to share a meal, a cup of coffee and most of all, sweet calorie free conversation!  

“But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.”

Isaiah 40:31


Michael Osthimer





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