Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28 (NIV)
This morning I woke early, hours before my alarm, full of worry about the future. So, as I often do when I can’t sleep, I began writing out my prayers to God. Those prayers began as anxious ramblings, lists of problems and possible solutions. Then my prayers turned into desperate pleas for God to direct me, to reveal to me what I should do, where I should go.
Like most Christians, I have spent a large portion of my life (and a larger portion of my prayers) trying to discern God’s plan for me, like it’s some kind of mystery I have to figure out, or some kind of code I have to decipher in order to find the key to happiness - like I’m Nicholas Cage and my life is National Treasure.
I’m not sure where that notion comes from. Perhaps it’s a result of growing up in Disney-era America where every child imagines themselves destined for a happily-ever-after, or perhaps it’s due to the overuse of Jeremiah 29:11 within Christian circles. Whatever the source, I know many fellow believers who struggle with the same question - What is God’s will for my life? Or, put in more secular terms - What is my destiny?
Funny, no matter how many times or how earnestly we plead for God to reveal His plan to us, He never does. Not completely. At most, He shows us the next step, but never the entire staircase. I don’t know about you, but that’s rarely enough for me. I set about plotting and scheming, sometimes literally working out equations, in order to try to plan my future out for myself. Do I have enough money? What if there’s an emergency? How can I work more and spend more time with my family? What do I need to accomplish in order to be prepared for any possible situation that may arise? How can I figure it out on my own?
As I was doing this under the guise of writing out my prayers this morning, something (I believe it was the Holy Spirit) brought to my mind an image of Martha of Bethany, flustered and sweaty, running frantically around her house trying to prepare a meal and make arrangements to accommodate Jesus and the disciples. She is anxious and put out, working hard to make room for Jesus in her busy life, amid all her other responsibilities.
Then the image panned out and I saw her sister, Mary, sitting peacefully at Jesus’ feet, smiling up at Him adoringly. I remembered then, what He’d said to Martha when she asked Him to scold Mary for not working and preparing as she was doing, for putting aside all other preoccupations in order to make Jesus the center of her focus.
He said, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed - or indeed, only one” (Luke 10:41-42a, NIV).
Somehow we have led ourselves to believe that God’s plan for our lives is so unique to us as individuals that it must be some great mystery, hidden from us.
It is not.
God has asked us all to do “only one” great thing in our lives, and that is to sit adoringly at the feet of Jesus.
We have all been created with the exact same purpose - to bring glory to God. Regardless of where you work, or whom you marry, or how else you serve Him, if you are not growing in your relationship with Jesus, you have missed His plan for you entirely.
Make your one and only goal to spend more time in His presence. A closer walk, a more honest and intimate relationship with Jesus, is the only thing that matters.
Ironically, the more time you spend with Him, the clearer those next steps become.
Then you can rest assured that you are living in His will.
Because His answer to the questions, “What should I do? Where should I go?” is always, “Come to me.”
Jesus, draw us near to You. Forgive us our worries and distractions. Remind us daily that our proper place is at Your feet, and our most important work is to “be still, and know that [You] are God” (Psalm 46:10). We trust everything else to Your hands. In Your name, Amen.