April 20, 2012
"As Jesus and His disciples were on their way, He came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to Him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what He said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to Him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!"
"Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." Luke 10:38-42
If you read this passage in my Bible you will see underlines and furious scrawls in the margins, as I believe it presents one of the clearest truths anywhere in the Scripture. And in all candor it's one I struggle with on an almost daily basis.
Whether you're a C level executive or a soccer mom it always seems like there is "so much to do" that at the end of the day everything but "the one thing needed" gets done.
When we become Christians, we invite Jesus into our lives but it seems that so often what happens next is that we get so consumed with what we're doing for Him that we forget to spend time with Him. Yet the Lord tells us that it's the "time", not the "work" that matters more.
Whenever I read this verse, I am not merely reminded of my shortcomings but also John 15:4-6:
"Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
"I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned."
This verse has been identified as one of the only places where God couples a command with a promise. As the NLT translates it: Remain in me, and I will remain in you. Remain in me... and I will. Words to live by if ever there were.
Yet when I look at my life there is far more doing then abiding. I see a lot more of Martha in my activities then Mary. And the lives I see around me bear that out all the more.
Could it be that rather then work for God, the best use of our time is to simply be with Him, sitting at His feet? Is it possible that, if we simply put down the busi-ness of our daily lives and abide with Him that the One who fashioned the stars in space might also be able to take care of us? After all, if it's only my frenetic pace of life that keeps all the balls in the air, where is God in that?
When we look at our schedules we see business meetings and social outings and school events and sports games and leisure activities and hobbies and the like. It's amusing because it's the work stuff that pays for (and causes us to need) the leisure activities which cause us to crave the family time which requires the work so we can afford them. A vicious circle. Is that how God intended us to live, scrambling in the kitchen while He waits on the porch?
There's a key word in the story of Mary, Martha and Jesus where Scripture records that Martha was "distracted" by all of the things that needs to be done. I've long argued that one of Satan's most effective techniques is that when he fails to "turn" a Christian, he instead resorts to merely distracting them. If we fail to abide with Christ we are barren branches. If you can't kill and enemy then the next best option is you make him combat-ineffective.
The solution is as simple as it is profound. Abiding with Christ. Choosing what is "better" that will not be taken away.
Make abiding with Christ your priority and it will be remarkable how many of the "chores" just seem to get taken care of, while all the while fruit is beginning to ripen, for the glory of God.
'til next time... God bless!
Art: The Servant by Ron DiCianni
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