Let’s start today with a story. Just imagine…
Two sisters are planning a dinner together, and sisterly dynamics are always really interesting right? The struggle for identity in their younger years made the older one “responsible” and the younger one a little, well, let’s just say she is more carefree. Martha had invited HIM….Jesus…no pressure. Both are planning to work together to create a spread that is delicious and pleasing to their family and friends—better than it’s ever been done before. The evening starts off fine…both are in the kitchen chopping herbs and vegetables and preparing the main course. Then the guests arrive, and that’s when things fall apart. The sisters go to greet the guests but one never comes back in the kitchen to help pull things together the end! I can hear the responsible sister muttering to herself in the kitchen:
‘The nerve! The meat needs basting at the same time the sauce needs stirring and the salad needs to be dressed and on the table (which by the way is not even set!) I guess I’ll just have to do it MYSELF, since SHE is out there sitting on the floor and just relaxing with our guests and especially HIM, when I was the one that arranged this whole thing in the first place! MUST BE NICE!’
She hears the easy conversation, she gets angrier. She hears laughter, her resentment builds. She hears quiet whispers of deep conversation and she explodes…publicly.
“Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” (Luke 10:40b)
But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10: 41-42)
Do you tend to identify more with Mary or Martha? What are some recent moments when this tendency has “come out” in you?
I love this story when I am feeling like Mary, comfortable in my environment, prioritizing my time with Jesus, taking time for the meaningful things in life. But I hate this story when I am feeling like Martha, abused and used and meeting everyone’s needs but my own and just simply exhausted (which is most of the time). Why do I act this way—crazy and hectic? Because stopping what I am doing would break the pace that seems just barely fast enough to keep my head above water. Plus, if others would just jump in, I would be able to be DONE ALREADY…then I could rest. I need others to join me in my pace (come on people…step it up!). Resting now would invalidate all the hard work I have just done (because I was on a roll, baby!) and I would have nothing to show for the struggle—and the struggle is REAL!
Deep breath. Inhale. Exhale.
It’s no secret we like to schedule our time with Jesus when it is convenient for us. He gets “worked in” to our schedule when we are ready for Him, like on Sunday mornings or maybe Bible Study days. But what if He wants more from us than that two blocks of time that we routinely build in? Jesus doesn’t care much about being convenient to us. What are some convenient times that you have “scheduled” Jesus into your life.
Are you prepared to let Him into the other blocks of time in your life? Be honest.
If you said “no” you’re not alone, I did too! Only because I can’t imagine what he would look like there, in those crazy, messy places in my life. Resting with him when my kids are awake. At all. Impossible. Resting with him when I need to run errands before I pick up the kids. Impossible. There’s no time for rest. People need to eat. People need a roof over their head and that is my job! And there’s the sibling rivalry and the kids who need help and my impatience to give it. Actually I’m embarrassed to imagine Him there with me in those moments.
But aren’t you tired? What if Jesus was inviting you to curl up on the couch with a cup of coffee and just be with him. Just talk. Just listen. Just rest. What if He is calling you to tune out some of the crazy—how do you even do this?
Why does rest seem so unnatural, so low on our list of priorities? I think it’s because our work ethic often equates rest with laziness. We are taught that to live a day means that you should “do” as much as possible, and so we try to fit more and more into the day so we will have something to show for it. But that pace can run very much against the kingdom economy of Jesus. We need to learn what Jesus meant by telling us to rest and carry a light load. Before taking on his yoke, we have to learn how to get rid of our own load of fear and anxiety that we are currently carrying. He might be asking us to slow down and relish things…to relish Him. That is our worship. Why is that so hard for us?
I think the fear and anxiety comes because we don’t actually trust Jesus as much as we say or think we do. Jesus only cares about the important things right? And His idea of what is important can be VERY different than mine. Sometimes I feel like He doesn’t get the trivial things…money IS important because I have to pay for food. My kids success in school IS important because they need good grades to make it into a good school and that is only accomplished by hard work and diligence. Making things happen at work IS important because it creates a high quality, necessary product, or skill in our students, or builds our influence for God’s kingdom. OK… but maybe, just maybe, I am the one who needs to re-think what is important, because Jesus says there is ONLY
ONE. thing. necessary.
Look at Jesus’ gentle critique to Martha. He said her name twice. I imagine it’s the way I do when I am trying to calm down one of my hysterical children. Maybe the first time He said it she was still ranting and raving? I can hear his voice softly correcting her.
“Martha…Martha…You are anxious and troubled about MANY things—but few things are necessary, indeed only ONE.”
I always thought he was correcting and chiding Martha (which I always secretly took offense at because she was JUST trying to get supper on the table—I relate).
Here’s what I love about Jesus. He gets it. He understands I am only worried because I am trying to impress him and take care of everyone else. And yet, he tells me to stop. Just stop. Stop and choose Him instead. Choose the ONE thing that is mandatory, necessary, for true life. Choose Jesus first, eat later. Choose Jesus first, then worry about the arrangements you need to make. Choose Jesus first, prepare later!
Are we even capable of understanding this? It’s BACKWARDS from how we have always done it! We set a task for ourselves and then upon its completion, rest is the reward. We do our housework and only then will we let ourselves sit down. We work at our jobs all day so we can come home and rest. We work our whole life so we can retire in our old age and finally rest! But the invitation of Jesus is to choose rest first, rest in the middle of craziness.
I think I know what you are thinking…you would LOVE to be able to put everything aside and bask in the Word of God. You wish you had the flexibility to be able to pray through the day, but real life precludes that possibility for you. Go ahead. List the things that make prioritizing time with Jesus hard for you in this season of life. He’s not scared of that.
Strangely, the anxious days happen most often on my days off. There was a day months ago when I wrote this:
Today, I was so anxious all day I was almost shaking. This was almost undoubtedly initiated because my eldest daughter found and wanted to keep two toads for pets, which escaped and began “leap-frogging” all over my kitchen because and the container she found for them was not big enough. Thankfully, Rob was home and as they laughed and chased the frogs, all I could think to do was get on my computer because I had read SOMEWHERE that frogs carry salmonella (which I confirmed, they do). When the frogs were contained (in one of my matching rubbermaids that I keep the kids’ off-season clothes in…which I will never use again for clothes), I remained “jumpy” all day because every time I walked past them, they would startle and jump at me…yes, at me—I’m sure of it. Between that and driving between three appointments that I had scheduled too close to one another on my one “free” day, I was a wreck all day long. And yet, if I were honest, all day I heard this in my head “You are anxious about many things, but only few things are needed, indeed only ONE.”
He was inviting me to rest, and I rejected His invitation…all day long. Take a minute to reflect on ways that he has been inviting you recently. Have you in some way rejected his invitation because your life was too ________________(busy, distracting, exciting, hard)?
Truthfully, it never occurred to me that Jesus was offering Martha a solution to her anxiety by telling her to prioritize Him, by choosing time with Him, the One Thing. Put ALL the things you think are important after Him. Even your kids. Even your husband. Even your work email, your home business, and your facebook account. Everything.
It also never occurred to me that I was choosing anxiety by NOT choosing to prioritize time with Him…because I was always trying to get to Him. That was always my goal–it’s just I was going to get Him almost as a reward for doing everything else. So I never got there. Look at the last part of verse 42: “Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Mary chose well. And I like to hope that after this episode, Martha did too.
Mary chose Jesus over preparations in the kitchen. She chose Jesus over Martha’s feelings. She chose Jesus over everything else she had planned. Why?… because He was the only thing necessary. Worth it. Worthy. Her choice was her worship. Her attention to Him was her love for Him. By choosing Jesus instead of her plans, she found peace. By letting Jesus interrupt her day, she found rest…AND, she found protection from the attacks of her demanding sister (just sayin’ for those of you who may have some of those).
Take a moment to pray for clarity on how Jesus is asking you to prioritize Him.
In what specific way might Jesus be asking you to choose Him first?