“After He [Jesus] had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone.”
I have not purchased a single Christmas gift yet. Nor have I put up a tree, or hung any lights. The reason as to why is far too easy this time of year, and we’ve all shared in some variation of the excuses: “I’m so busy right now”, or “Work is just nuts”, or “Oh you know, it’s just that time of year”. This is true, the holiday season can be overwhelming with all the obligations and expectations we face each time December rolls around. I typically find myself dropping the ball on more than a few things, like buying gifts before Christmas Eve. But I also seem to fall out of rhythm when it comes to my spiritual focus. Ironic isn’t it, the whole season dedicated to celebrating the birth of someone ends up being the season we neglect our relationship with him.
One of the largest goals I have for myself is to prioritize my life correctly, or as Steven Covey so eloquently put it, “keep the main thing the main thing”. Life is a constant battle of trying to keep our focus correctly fixed, and not falling prey to all the distractions it has to offer.
A simple way to refocus our attention is in the practice of pausing—taking a moment to reflect on, and remember, the “main thing” on which we need to focus. This is why we pray before meals. It’s a built-in time, three times a day, where we pause and give thanks, reflecting on the ways God has provided.
I’d submit a challenge to you: set three calendar reminders for yourself throughout the day (mine are at 10, 2, and 7), simply prompting you to pause. For me, I just take 5 minutes to stop what I’m doing and reflect in that moment. Sometimes that looks like listening to a hymn or song. Other times it’s just reflecting on how God is present in simple, everyday activities, like preparing a meal with family or friends. Maybe it’s a brief pause to reflect on how He has blessed you in this season of life, or perhaps even a prayer for strength or answers to questions we have. Our Father isn’t looking for religious practice for the sake of religious practice. He’s looking for relationship, and what better way to focus on what’s most important than by consistently having intentional moments with Him. In the craziness that is this season, let’s not forget to practice pausing.