If life seemed too stressful, too complex, or too hard, I knew that a visit to Grandma would cure it. Life was simple for my Grandma. I never saw her drive. I never saw her cook. She could hardly see, hardly hear (unless I yelled in her ear), and spent most of her time sitting in her chair and taking long naps when she felt the urge. Yet, she lived life in the presence of God. She prayed. She remembered the Scriptures she read when her sight was better. She loved her family. She sang hymns to herself. She interacted with God!
It’s so easy for me to get wrapped up in the busyness of life. There are tons of things on my to-do list, meetings to attend, failures to lament and achievements to strive for. A visit to Grandma reminded me that all of those things are well and good, but not necessarily what God had in mind for us. Grandma had chosen “the good things”.
In Luke 10:38-42, Jesus goes to the house of two women: Mary and Martha.
38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister, called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good things, which will not be taken away from her.”
In this story, Jesus comes to Mary and Martha’s house to visit. Upon his arrival, Mary and Martha have two very different actions toward Jesus. Mary chose to sit with Jesus and just “be” with Him; the passage says she sat at the Lord’s feet to listen to what He said. Martha on the other hand has a very different action toward Jesus. Martha was worried and distracted by all of the preparations that need to be made. It was customary to provide certain things for your guests and Martha wanted to be sure to honor Jesus by getting all of those things taken care of for Him.
Martha was not being unreasonable – she was doing only that which was expected of her.
When Martha noticed Mary was not helping, she became very upset. She thought Mary had failed to perform the duties on the “to do” list – again, these were expected things. She was not going above and beyond. So, Martha comes to Jesus and complains about Mary.Jesus says to Martha in her worried state, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but ONE Simple thing is necessary…” and that is to posture herself at HIS feet and listen; to BE in His presence. This is the good thing that Jesus was talking about.
Martha, had isolated herself from Jesus (and her sister) through her serving and trying to please Jesus. Notice what she says: “do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone?” Her to-do list isolated her from the presence of God and her dear sister, Mary.
Often we allow our list of things (often things for Jesus) to distract us from what is really important: the presence of Jesus in our lives. It is not as if we have to forsake all the normal expectations of life and just pray and sing worship songs. But, what would it look like to do those things we have to do as an act of worship – as an offering to God in His presence?
Life is busy. And, we don’t have time to JUST sit around and pray, read the Bible or sing worship songs. However, we must remember that DOING always flows from BEING. If wer are not cultivating our relationship with Christ, our doing will isolate us. Our doing must flow from a sense of Christ’s presence in our life.
One question: are you doing life FOR Christ, or WITH Christ?
We can become deceived into thinking that we are really important. After all, busy-ness means we have so many demands, so many things pulling at our schedule. The subtle reality is that we inflate ourselves beyond Christ. Don’t believe me? How many times have you missed your time with God in order to head to work early or do something that needed to be done around the house? Have you ever felt alone and isolated in the midst of your work? I believe it is because we are trying to do life FOR Christ rather than WITH Christ. And, as we do, we try to find our value in the pile of things we check off of our to-do list instead of in the presence of a loving God.
After all, Jesus said, only one thing is good and necessary – Life is about being in the presence of God.
My Grandma had it right; she chose the good and necessary thing – being in the presence of God. She passed away a few years ago. I suspect life didn’t change a lot for her that day. She is still sitting in the presence of God. So, I can be encouraged to live every aspect of my life in the presence of God as well; WITH God instead of FOR God.
Here are some questions to consider:
- Are you a Mary, who thrives on the presence of God, or a Martha who is busy with so many things?
- In what areas of your life are you living life FOR God instead of WITH God? What about the areas where you are really doing life with God? What’s the difference?
- Have you ever just sat in the presence of God? – not looking for anything, hearing your next direction or calling, or to learn some new Scripture – but just to enjoy HIM?
- How does your to-do list isolate you from God? What things that are “expected” of you are you choosing to do apart from God’s presence?
- What are some ways you can make your to-do list an act of worship; an activity in the presence of God?