“I’m running out of time to shop,” a frantic shopper said.
The Christmas season is in full swing. And yes, the shopper was right, we have a limited amount of time to prepare. But during the hustle and bustle, it seems that we're more focused on our lists than those around us.
When thinking of Christmas shopping, I picture congested shopping centers, lines, and lots of people. Frustration is understandable. But what isn't is taking out your anger on cashiers, shoppers, or drivers, because we waited until the last minute.
They need to see Jesus too.
Bob Goff (author of Everybody Always) said, “Jesus was busy all the time with kids pulling on his dress, men in sycamore trees – but he still had time for people.” But if we look at the bottom line, we must take time to minister and value those that we cross paths with. And if Jesus had time for the others, how much more so should we take time minister to the needy?
A few weeks back, I was walking out of my local Walmart. Coming out of the door, I saw an elderly man collecting buggies. He acknowledged every person leaving with a smile and “Have a good day!” Watching, I was shocked to see so many people ignore the man as they scurried to the car.
When I reached the stranger, I had a choice to make. Either I could ignore him or I could simply speak and share a smile.
I choose the second.
As I smiled and wished him well, his smile grew. “Thank you, ma’am. You’re the first person to speak to me. God bless you,” he replied.
That hurt. As I sat in my car, I was overwhelmed. Not because I had spoken, but because of the times I hadn’t. Suddenly the question was, how many people have I passed by because I didn't have "time" for them?
As always, the Lord was faithful to remind me of a story that hit home.
Once upon a time, there was a Nazarene who had to choose whether or not to welcome a stranger into her house. Only, the stranger wasn’t a Walmart employee, it was an angel from the Lord. This, someone, came and told her how she was going to become pregnant with a son who would rule an eternal kingdom (even though she'd never been with a man).
If you’re like me, we might be a little skeptical if someone did this today. But not Mary, she openly welcomed the angel in and accepted what he had to say with joy.
Studying Mary always leaves me questioning what would have been had she said “no.” She had a good life. She was soon-to-wed her fiancé, build a life with him, and get her happily ever after. Her plan wasn’t a bad one. But if she hadn’t time to listen to the angel, who knows where the story of Jesus would begin?
But thankfully, Mary had time. She chose to follow the Lord’s will and she did it joyfully. Luke records Mary’s response:
My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed (Luke 1:46-48).
Mary took time to do the Lord’s will, as we all should do. This season, it’s important to remember that fighting to keep Christ in Christmas does nothing if Christians don’t take time to and minister to the needy.
Mary made time for a stranger and risked her reputation, fiancé, and family in the process. How willing are we to minister to strangers even if that just means risking what others think about us?
"Let brotherly love continue. Don’t neglect to show hospitality, for by doing this some have welcomed angels as guests without knowing it" (Hebrews 13:1-2).
This article was originally posted on The Stand.