prepare.jpgBut the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.’ Luke 1:30-31 (NIV)

She had received word that she would become pregnant. News that she could hardly believe. After all, she was a virgin! But this news had come from an angel, so there could be no doubting it. Yet, she and her fiancé had not planned this pregnancy. So how in the world would she prepare for a baby?

She and Joseph would have to make the seventy-mile journey to be counted in the census, so there would be no time or place to set up a nursery. Thank goodness the angel had already given her the baby’s name; she could cross that off her “to do” list. But there were lots of things that she wanted to do to prepare for parenthood. How would she ever be ready for a baby, much less the Savior of the world?

During that first Christmas, Mary faced the obstacle of having too much to do and not enough time. Sound familiar? If so, what can we learn from how Mary handled her circumstances so that we can battle this obstacle and get prepared during Advent?

When the angel told Mary about her upcoming pregnancy, the angel also shared that Mary’s relative Elizabeth was six months’ pregnant. (Luke 1:36, NIV) Mary responded by getting ready and by hurrying to see her. (vv. 39-40, NIV) Once Mary arrived, she and Elizabeth celebrated what God was doing in their lives and spent the next three months together. (vv. 40-56, NIV)

While spending three months with a relative is probably not a viable option for most people during the holidays, Mary’s example demonstrates that she made relationships–with her family and with her God–her top priority during this pivotal time. Rather than worrying about checking off things on her “mother-to-be to-do list,” Mary recognized that she could not do everything that she wanted to do. Therefore, she chose to focus on her relationships so that she could celebrate this wonderful season in her life.

During this holiday season when you are bombarded with options of how to spend your time, how will you choose to focus on relationships? Will you limit your involvement in activities that draw your time away from relationships? Choosing to make relationships a priority, like Mary did, can simplify your focus as you prepare for this holiday season.

Father God, as we prepare for the birth of Your Son, show us how we can make relationships a priority. Remind us often during the days ahead of what is truly important, and help us not to get swept up in unimportant tasks that lead us away from You.

Is there a friend or a family member who could use a personal visit from you? Is there a Scripture or song that you could memorize to help you focus on your relationship with God during this season?