Monday, January 20, 2014

Choosing the Better Way

"...Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." Luke 10:42

This story about Mary and Martha is so familiar it is easy to look over, but I asked the Lord to show me something new as I studied it this morning. I read about Martha opening her home to Jesus (she was very hospitable). When He came in, her sister Mary chose to sit down at His feet and listen to what He had to say. Martha, on the other hand, was distracted (the complete opposite). She chose to busy herself with all the preparations she felt necessary to host Jesus as her guest.

As I read these verses the Lord revealed some key points in a different light. First, Martha opened her home and welcomed Jesus in, but then left Him sitting in the living room, so to speak, while she busied herself with household tasks to host Him. If this were happening in modern times, she might have run to put fresh sheets on the bed, dusted and vacuumed the guest room, picked some fresh flowers to put on the dresser, laundered the towels and put fresh ones in the guest bath, straightened up the kitchen, unloaded the dishwasher so she could load the dirty dishes in the sink, pulled up her recipe boards on Pinterest to see what she might make for dinner, run to the store for a few ingredients, donned her apron and slaved over the meal, set the table with fine china, lit the candles, and then took a quick shower, whew! ...before announcing, "Dinner is served!" All the while, her sister sitting at Jesus's feet, hanging on His every word. 

Mary had much to do to feel ready for this guest she'd already invited in, so it's understandable why she'd be a teensy bit frustrated with her sister for not helping her. But Jesus said, "Martha, are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken from her." I believe this parallels well with our walk with Christ. We ask Jesus in to our hearts and lives, go to church and worship Him on Sundays, then leave Him in the living room all week and fail to spend time with Him. 

Mary chose to lay busyness aside and sit at the feet of Jesus. She chose to give Him her full attention as their honored guest. She chose to be fully engaged and listen intently to the words He spoke. I believe she drank deeply of the wisdom He shared, allowing it to penetrate her heart in a life changing way. 

Mary wanted Jesus there. There was no question about that. She was the one that invited Him in after all. But before she took time to visit with Him and hear His heart, she chose to do other things. This very concept is one the Lord has been teaching me at new levels in recent months. I always want Jesus near, desire to spend meaningful time with Him, and with my whole heart I want to do the things He calls me to do, but many times my obedience has come with distractions or was delayed. Sometimes I've been up to meet with Him, but found myself so distracted by the cares or to do's in my mind that I wasn't fully present and hearing what He had to say. Or I would put Jesus off in a sense saying, "Lord, I'll meet with You this morning, but first let me..." Or, "Lord, I will work on that project You've asked me to do, but first I need to do such and such." The Lord has convicted me of the "But first's..." We can be so busy trying to prepare to spend time with Him, that we never really get around to spending undistracted time with Him. I am trying to be much more diligent about saying, "First, I'm going to spend time with Jesus, then I will..." Or "I'm going to [work on this project] out of obedience to the Lord first, then I'll run my errands or meet my friend for coffee." In so doing, I'm learning that busyness returns void, but God and His work do not. I'm choosing Him first.

Father God, I am human. I mess up. I have flaws. I get distracted with the best of them and I like to have my "to do" list all checked off. But I have found a better way. You are the better way. When I choose to put You and Your work first, all that really needs to be done gets done. Help me to keep putting You first. Help me to be fully engaged when I spend time with You and in Your Word -- only then will I be changed by it. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.

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