“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and anxious about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed, only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-42 NIV
The alarm clock goes off and before I even open my eyes a to-do list flashes in my mind. I have a deadline at work; I promised to help a friend move this weekend; I have a paper due in one of my night classes; my brother needs me to drop by his place and feed his dog; and I have to get yet another bridesmaid dress altered.
Maybe your list looks a bit different from mine. Maybe you have young children to care for or aging parents. Maybe you have a mortgage or a spouse to worry about. Maybe you have travel or retirement plans to make. Maybe you’re looking for your first job or trying to go back to school.
Whatever your list looks like, I bet you’ve had mornings like mine - mornings where all you can think about are all things you have to do, and all the people you have to take care of. Mornings where you forget why you even started doing all those things to begin with. If so, you’re in good company. Jesus had a friend just like us.
In Luke 10:38-42, we are introduced to Mary and Martha, sisters, and friends of Jesus. He and the disciples decide to stop in and crash with them for a while, and so like any good hostess, Martha gets to work. Cooking, washing, making sure there are enough beds, and water for everyone – making sure everyone is taken care of. Meanwhile, her sister Mary is sitting at Jesus’ feet, listening. Like any older sister would, Martha gets irritated. There are so many things to be done. Shouldn’t Mary be helping her?
I think most of us can relate to Martha. We get bogged down by the details of life. When we get busy, when we get anxious and worried, are we not often jealous of those who are not? Do we not often try to spread our busy-ness to others? After all, misery does love company.
But Jesus intervenes. Martha, Martha, he says, you’re wrong. Sure, there are many things to do, but only one is necessary. The only thing you really NEED to do is sit at my feet and listen.
Be still, and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10 NIV
Martha was busy, but she forgot why. She forgot that she had been blessed with the presence of Christ in her life, and that any work she would do should be done joyfully, as service to the Master, or not at all.
Like Martha, we can get so busy, so worried about the little things in life, that we forget what is important. We lose sight of why we became busy in the first place. We forget that we have bridesmaids’ dresses to alter, and people to help move because we have good friends. We forget that we have deadlines at work and papers due at school because we have been blessed with honest jobs, and higher education; that we have kids and spouses and parents to take care of because we have a loving family. We forget that all those things are supposed to be fun; that God gave us life so that we could live it. If we can’t enjoy our work, if we can’t have fun in our service to God and others, and especially if we try to bog others down in our busy-ness, it is time to be still, and to take a seat at the feet of our Lord.
The next time you feel this way, the next time you start feeling like your whole life is a chore, do what I do – imagine you can hear Jesus say, “Katie, Katie… you are worried about so many things. Choose the better part.”
Jesus, Thank You. Thank You, for reminding us of what is important, and for being our refuge and rest. Help us to be still, and to find the fun in our lives. Forgive us on the days we lose sight of You in the busy-ness of life, and may those days be fewer and farther apart. In Jesus’ Name, Amen
Further Resources: Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World