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Slow Down for Christmas: a faith based story from the Story Powerline
Tuesday, December 1, 2020 by Becky Cerling Powers

It was the end of the first week of December 1976, and our third child was due just before New Year’s. I was anxious to get gifts mailed to our parents, siblings, nieces and nephews to arrive before Christmas Day. So I wrapped the gifts and headed to the Post Office with our five- and three-year-olds in tow.

Package delivery stress, early delivery baby

Even though we arrived just as the Post Office opened, by the time I got the children out of the car, there was a line out the door. I was eight months pregnant-plus, but no one offered to let me go ahead of them. So I stood in line for an hour balancing my packages and trying to hold onto two active little kids. I felt dizzy. I nearly fainted. And a couple days later I delivered an eight and a half pound boy, three weeks early.

Today I think I was foolish. And I wonder, did I rush myself into early labor in my hurry to put together a “perfect” Christmas holiday? I was heavily pregnant and the mother of preschoolers. Why couldn’t I just accept my physical limits? Make fewer demands on myself?

Rethinking priorities…later

I didn’t have to mail those gifts before Christmas that year. I could have waited until February. Or asked my husband to run the holiday errands. Or skipped buying gifts altogether. My relatives would have understood. Or if they hadn’t…shame on them.

But the holidays were upon me, and I was reacting to the urgency of the season, too busy to think straight about my true priorities.

What’s urgent crowds out what’s important

A successful cotton mill manager once remarked to pastor and writer Charles E. Hummel, “Your greatest danger is letting the urgent things crowd out the important.” The maxim kept coming back to haunt Hummel, and eventually he wrote a little booklet called Tyranny of the Urgent.

Hummel notes that when Jesus prayed to his Heavenly Father just before his arrest in the Garden, he made an astonishing claim: “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do” (John 17:4).

How could Jesus describe his work as completed? “A prostitute at Simon’s banquet had found forgiveness and a new life, but many others still plied their trade…The blind, maimed and diseased abounded throughout the land. Yet on that last night, with many urgent human needs unmet and useful tasks undone, the Lord had peace. He knew that he had completed the work God had given him.”

Jesus’ solution to the stress of urgency

“What was the secret of Jesus’ ministry?” Hummel asks. Then he points to Mark 1:35 “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” Other passages show that Jesus often tried to get away from the crowds to seek the presence of his Heavenly Father.

“Jesus’ yes to the Father’s purpose meant saying no to urgent demands of human need,” Hummel says. “Jesus’ prayer waiting on the Father’s instruction freed him from the tyranny of the urgent. It gave him a sense of direction, set a steady pace and at the end of his earthly ministry gave him the satisfaction that he had completed the work God had assigned him.”

A Prayer

“Heavenly Father, what is important for me this week? Today? I want to lay aside my agenda of urgent tasks and sit with You in silence. Open my eyes to see and my ears to hear what You want me to see and hear. Show me how you want me to respond. Amen.”

Resource: http://www.olemissxa.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Tyranny-of-the-Urgent.pdf

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