Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Ready or Not by Karen Cogan

This is a reprint from an inspirational story that was published several years ago in Evangel Magazine. I'd like to share it with you.

Ready or Not

I geared up like a general going into battle. I made lists and scanned the sale ads for special buys. I even ordered gifts for out of town relatives so that I could mail them early. I was proud of my efficiency, but something seemed to be missing. Too busy to question what it was, I pushed the nagging sensation from my mind.

Perhaps when we went out as a family to choose our tree, I would get in the mood for Christmas. We took great care in selecting just the right tree. It was tall, full and impressive. We brought it home and worked together to place years of homemade decorations, tinsel, garland and lights on the branches. We plugged in the lights and admired the effect. As I closed up the empty ornament boxes, I felt relieved that this major task had been completed. As the days sped by, I hurried to finish the extra baking and cleaning that always seemed to be a part of the holidays. Each night, as I unplugged the lights on the tree, I counted down another day less to accomplish my tasks.

Too soon, the Sunday before Christmas arrived. I settled down for the sermon, still thinking of several gifts I had yet to buy. My distracted thoughts were brought into focus by the recounting of how Jesus' disciples were gently reprimanded for their lack of perspective.Matthew 26:7 describes how a woman came to Jesus with an alabaster jar of expensive perfume which she pouredon His head. When the disciples saw this, they were outraged. They chastised the woman, saying, "This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor" (Matthew 26:9, NIV).

When the two sisters, Mary and Martha, invited Jusus to supper at their house, Jesus,took another opportunity to teach this truth. While Mary sat at Jesus' feet to listen and learn, Martha came to Jesus and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her to come help me."

To Martha's request, Jesus replied, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her." (Luke 10:38-41, RSV).

Was I so busy cooking, cleaning and buying gifts that I was missing the better portion? The shopping, cooking and cleaning I would always have with me. The sermon reminded me that my opportunity to appreciate this Christmas was passing and would never return.I had begun to take Christmas for granted. In a few days the beautiful tree in the living room would be gone. Perhaps other blessins that I took for granted would be absent with the pasing of another year.

Sadly, I had been so set on fulfilling my tasks, I was losing sight of both my blessings and the reason for the celebration. The joy of Christmas was being crowded out by the thousands of tedious chores and obligations that demanded attention. Communion with my husband, children and even God, was becomming lost in the tyrany of accomplishment. But whatever satisfaction I got from my actions could never be worth missing the spiritual blessing of the season.

That evening after supper, I watched my 5-year-old kneel beside our manger and gingerly finger the figures. She was the third generation to enjoy this family treasure. Her fascination brought back emeories of a quiet time when I was childlike in my wonder of Christmas. I left the dishes and sat beside her on the floor to hear her tell me the story of Jesus' birth. And in that quiet time of wonder, as I set aside all other tasks, I regained the joy of Christmas.

Merry Christmas All!

Karen Cogan


Nicola said...

It's amazing how much grace we lose when we don't have the time to spend with Him--and how much time we gain when we do spend time with Him.

Jen Childers said...

HI Karen,

I hated Christmas for the longest time. it hurt but I had to admit time with certain people did more to hurt than let me celebrate.
Now the holidays are just my husband,my son and I and it is wonderful! I can focus on the true meaning of the holiday now that i'm not worried about not making the grade. The Lord says I'm a pearl beyond price. With a new attitude I will become one!