But few things are needed – or indeed only one.
Have you ever felt called to do something for God – something you were super excited about doing, but the details of daily life seemed to hold you back? I felt this way when the Lord first called me to write. I would sit down, ready to transmit His message onto my computer screen. Then I would see the pile of laundry needing to be folded. Or the crumbs under the kitchen table. Or the leftover food permanently gluing itself to the dishes in the sink. The details distract me.
Martha, too, was distracted by the details. She invited Jesus to her home, the home she shared with her sister, Mary. Martha wanted His visit to be perfect, for the food to be prepared just right, the house tidy, the decor warm and inviting.
While Martha scurried around the house making preparations, Mary sat at the feet us Jesus. She listened intently, absorbing His every word. He captivated her attention, freeing her from the distractions of Martha’s frantic efforts.
As Martha’s frustration comes to a boil, she says something to Jesus –
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!”
I can relate to Martha’s perspective. I imagine her thinking, If Mary would just help with the preparations, we could both sit with Jesus. Likewise, I think, If I can just get the house clean, then my mind will be clear to hear what God wants me to write. However, I think we all know what that is like – cleaning the house turns into just a few dishes, a small load of laundry. The details are never ending.
Thankfully, Jesus has something else in mind:
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset 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.”
Jesus recognizes Martha’s longing to please Him, but the taste of the food and the ambiance of the home matters much less to Him than her heart. Mary understands the importance of Jesus’ brief presence and He will not take that from her.
Choosing the one thing requires setting aside everything else.
Just as Jesus wanted Mary and Martha’s undivided attention, the Lord desires the same of us. He wants to meet our needs, bring us peace, and bless our lives. When we are distracted by the busyness of life, we miss the opportunity to hear from Him, even when we are in the business of serving the Lord. Before we start our day, we must spend time with Him.
If you can relate to Martha’s distraction with the details, consider the one thing we need to tend to most – our hearts. Everything else – laundry, the dishes, the bathrooms – are of less importance and can wait. Give the Lord a period of undivided attention today and see what happens!
Lord, thank You for Your presence in my life. You are never too distracted by the details to spend time with me. Teach me to reciprocate by setting aside everything else to sit at Your feet each day. Help me to choose the one thing needed above all else – You.