Do you ever find yourself struggling to get through all the loads of work you have to do? If your answer is, “CONSTANTLY,” keep reading.
Do you get to the end of your day and are struck by the horrifying reality, “I DID NOT SPEND ANY TIME WITH JESUS OR ACCOMPLISH ANYTHING FOR HIM!” If so, does it bother you? Or maybe you feel too busy to entertain it for very long. Maybe you hit services at your church (hearing messages that let you off the hook for such disengagement) that you feel satisfied and content to let it all ride how things are. (But I hope not…)
For anyone who wants to live every day (seeking to and accomplishing) pleasing The Lord with our witness, our work, our fellowship, and our obedience, we have to confront the stark realities of our current condition:
We have no margin – largely because we choose not to have any, or we don’t count entertainment as margin. This is a huge problem because it costs us so much more than we realize. Spending time with other believers, searching and studying the scriptures together, meeting each other’s needs, weeping and rejoicing together… that’s completely off the table without margin. Serving whatever gathering of believers you belong to… nope. (And forget about leading anybody and becoming a high-octane team.) Sitting at the feet of Jesus to hear His instructions for your day during your morning devotions… not likely.
Which brings us to Luke 10, where Mary sits at the feet of Jesus and hears Him speak His wise, loving, compassionate instructions over her life. This all happens at her sister, Martha’s house. So while Mary is getting ministered to (served), Martha is distracted with much serving. The tasks she has are becoming overwhelming to her (or worse, she has an attitude of ‘I sure won’t be the only one serving around here’), and she lashes out… AT JESUS! No word to Mary, you see, but going straight to the top… “Jesus, don’t you CARE?!” Practically, “are you blind to what’s happening before your very eyes?” As if nobody would allow THIS injustice, THIS indignity… someone devoting themselves to Jesus and His will while she works.
Well, she’s in for a shock when Jesus doesn’t straighten up and meet her demands. In fact, He has some words of instruction for Martha and commendation for Mary. So as He compassionately addresses this unfortunate situation, created by the frustrated Martha, He speaks her name, twice, and enlightens her to her own plight, not of overwork, necessarily, but of poor prioritizing. It’s as if she were aiming to please Emily Post before Jesus Christ. He sees and expresses how visible it is to those around her that she is “anxious and troubled about many things,” despite one thing being necessary. All that troubles her is superfluous, unnecessary. WOW! Imagine being told that all you’ve scheduled for yourself is unnecessary… essentially wrong. And (from her perspective in this emotional state) adding insult to injury, Jesus continues to affirm Mary’s decision to spend time with Him, hearing what He has to say, calling it “the good portion,” in contrast to her unnecessary portion, and then adding that it will not be taken away from her.
But here’s where I have some tenderness toward Martha (besides the fact that I’m constantly busy), is she had no idea. No idea that what she was investing in was unnecessary, no idea that Mary’s sitting at Jesus feet was not only better, but “good,” which we know to mean complete and lacking nothing. It is likely that her paradigm was the problem, not her heart. She wanted to serve and was striving towards it… and not just serve, but serve JESUS! She just didn’t realize that serving Him best meant what Mary was doing, not what Martha knew to do.
Has anyone ever told you that you likely waste a lot of time and energy and resources on superfluous pursuits? (Doesn’t seem likely, not even in churches that purport to be “on mission,” “about the Father’s business,” etc. while ignoring Jesus’ commands, but that is an entirely different post.) Our lives, especially in America, may contain so much waste – wasted time, energy, resource, potential. And, frankly, we prefer it this way… otherwise, we’d have changed by now from being Marthas to being Marys. The truth is, to please our Lord, we MUST change.
The big question, always, is how? The answer will vary from person to person, and would be impossible for me to detail your specific situation… good thing we have an all-knowing, personal God who loves to interface with each of His children. While I will provide some general, catch-all tips that are likely to strike some sort of chord with you and your lifestyle, the best way to start is to earnestly begin seeking The Lord in daily, prayer. Dwell with Him by reading The Word (Bible), dwell with Him in conversation in prayer, not just talking and asking for stuff, but listening to His response, His direction. And whatever you do, don’t stop at hearing! Jesus tells us in Luke 6, “whoever comes to Me, hears My sayings, and does them…” as a recipe for a solid life. Don’t leave out the doing part. Unfortunately, this is the most missed component of Jesus’ recipe.
Once you’ve prayed and have direction (that doesn’t contradict the scriptures, because God will never deny Himself, or lie, or tempt, or deceive), you get up and immediately do what He says* (including “wait until ____ to…”). Immediately act or prepare or be comfortable waiting for that opportunity He’s either told you or will show you when the moment arrives.
And, for Heaven’s sake, don’t look to yourself or other people as your answer… look to The Lord. Trust in The Lord with all your heart. Don’t lean on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge/trust Him and He will direct your paths. Neither you (nor I) nor your friends are as trustworthy and faithful and competent and powerful as God, so put your stock in Him. So many fall into the trap of looking in the natural for their answer. “If I only had _____, then I could…” Whatever you put in that space is your idol du jour, and we shall have no other gods besides our Lord, the only living God. One may say, “but I need help, and at this point, I don’t care where it comes from.” But that, dear ones, is a recipe for disaster. Quick question: has anyone ever let you down? If so, then you already know how fickle the aid of man can be. You don’t need just anybody, you need The Lord. Rely on God to be your help.
You don’t need just anybody, you need The Lord. Rely on God to be your help.Tweet
Doesn’t the scripture say, “God is… our very present help in time of need?” (Yes. Yes it does. In Psalm 46.) So admitting you need help is wise. But don’t waste that wisdom forsaking God’s willing and able help. In fact, in Philippians 2:13, the Bible says that “it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” He helps you accomplish it, and He even helps you WANT to accomplish what He’s assigned you. HALLELUJAH!
So my few general tips to help a true follower of Jesus (disciple) to alter their lives to fulfill their God-given purpose and please Him daily:
- Look at your calendar and schedule time to “sit at Jesus’ feet and listen to Him”
- Consider making a time journal, making note of how you spend every hour of your day (weekday and weekend)
- Consider limiting entertainment/media/hobbies, particularly if those have become more precious than dwelling in the secret place of The Most High WITH The Most High
- Ask someone you trust to walk alongside you and at least hold you accountable for the changes, if not also participating in adjusting their lives simultaneously
There could be more widely applicable tips, but let’s start with these and see where God brings us. I’m confident that His Word will prove true in your new life:
“…the one who reaps is receiving wages”
“Open your mouth wide, and [God] will fill it”
“…none who wait for [God] shall be put to shame”
“And behold, [Jesus is] with you always, to the end of the age”
I believe in you, child of God. Now, don’t delay. Get after it right away and just see what wonders come!