At times…life can be draining.
Hard work. long hours, kids, people, projects can pull at us from all directions. Worry, stress, and busyness can overwhelm. The growing pace of filled-up schedules, technology that makes us ever-available to the world, responsibilities of everyday life that pull at us for more attention, can all bring a deep weariness to the soul.
I’m sure we’ve all felt it at one point in life or another.
Maybe you find yourself there right now…physically exhausted, mentally drained, and spiritually needy. Deep fatigue of the heart…it compels us to STOP everything…striving to get our attention…for rest.
One thing I’ve noticed over time – true rest is hard to do when we’re naturally drawn “to do.” When faced with the option of “resting” – we often feel almost lazy, like we’re wasting time, like we should be finding something more important to do.
But I think of all the times in life that I’ve been so busy “doing” – I’ve often neglected the more important “being.”
We see that tension between busyness and rest in the story of Mary and Martha. Such a picture of our world today. I have to admit, I kind of want to defend my Martha here. I so identify with her. Many of us may find ourselves somewhere in there too. Though her desire to serve and show hospitality to Jesus were not wrong, sometimes our own busyness can rob us of the life that God intends for us to have. He’s not waiting for us to impress Him with what we can “do” for Him. God has such a way of pointing out the “heart” – the purpose – of all we do. He longs for our heart to be completely His. And that’s where Mary comes in…
“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. 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!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you 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 away from her.” Luke 10:38-42
Symptoms of the busyness – a heart like Martha’s:
1. Over-Active – Martha was active. This girl was busy, look out, don’t get in her way, she had things to get done Activity is one area of life where “less” truly can be “more.” This quote is so true, “The more you are doing, the less well you are doing most, if not all, of it.” We may “think” we can do it all, but the reality is we can’t. You are not Superwoman. Don’t fall for this trap.
2. Distracted – “Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made…” Do a multitude of thoughts race through your mind as you go through your day? Does one thing on your to do list, lead to you to 20 more? Recently, I was making dinner and needed to find a recipe, so I went to the computer to pull it up, then saw a few emails that I quickly opened, and one was from the kid’s coach, which reminded me that I hadn’t put the games on the calendar, which then caused me to go find the family calendar, and while looking at it, I realized that I needed to change an appointment that I still hadn’t called about, so I grabbed my phone to look up the number, and saw that a friend had sent a text needing some information, so thought I’d quickly respond to her, and then one of the kids came in asking when dinner was going to be ready. Oh yea, dinner – almost forgot! Now, where was that recipe???
3. Restlessness – Martha was restless. She felt pressed, she couldn’t stay still. We all know there’s of course nothing wrong with getting things done, but if we’re “restless” – we are more than likely finding ourselves on the constant fast track of life. We need things done better, faster, sooner, bigger, extra, longer, and NOW! Multi-tasking is crucial and we’ve lost the wonderful simplicity of stopping to smell the roses. We so fear “wasting” time, that we often leave no margin at all for “down” time.
4. Comparison – Martha compared herself with Mary, “…don’t you care?” How many times have we said that in life? To God? To our husband? To our kids? To anyone who might lend an ear to listen? We want someone to notice us, we desperately want someone to care, we long for someone to see all that we’re busy doing, like it should somehow matter more. We complain. We pout. We whine. We get angry. We compare what we’re doing with others. We judge others for not doing “more.” We feel guilty when we’re not doing as much as someone else. A certain downward spiral begins from comparing ourselves with others. Defeat sets in – feelings that we don’t measure up – often leading to deeper insecurity – which then triggers despair, depression, and total exhaustion.
5. Anxiety – “…you are worried and upset about so many things…” Ever been there? Find yourself waking up at night, unable to sleep? Stressed about your job? Worried about money? Anxious about the future? Facing troubles in your marriage? Concerned about your kids? Has anxiety caused you physical illness in life? Or emotional distress? Does it make you reach for something to ease your plaguing thoughts?
A place of rest – a heart like Mary’s – what she did differently:
1. She sat – It’s right there in verse 39. It was that simple. She “sat” down at the feet of Jesus. She stopped for some moments. A life of rest doesn’t mean a life of napping or sleeping. It means a life of heart rest, trust, security, confidence, peace, the ability to sleep well at night, the ability to have a clear conscience, the ability to go in courage and faith. Rest isn’t laziness. Laziness is “neglecting to do what you need to do.” Rest is simply admitting there are things you don’t need to do or can’t do, or just need a break from them so that you can recover. Build moments into your world where you sit down – at His feet. Rest can be hard, but rest is grace. Rest can be hard, but rest is peace. Don’t wait for a spa day of rest, or a special vacation to get away from it all. While those can be great, every day needs moments of sitting with our Savior.
2. She listened – She was not only sitting at the feet of Jesus, she was “listening to what He said.” Maybe, many times in our lives, we’ve stopped “listening.” Really listening, to Him. This can only be done when we give Him some time to speak to us. Make an appointment with Him every morning. Keep a consistent time and place. Bring yourself, your Bible, a journal or something to write on, maybe, if you’re like me, a cup of coffee. Settle in, listen to what He wants to speak to you. Fight the urge to do all the talking. He longs to share His heart with us today. Start with just 10 minutes a day, go longer from there. If you miss a day, it’s OK, start fresh the next day.
3. She chose what was better – “Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her.” She made the best choice. She chose Jesus. He would never be taken away from her. He longs to give you a new start in life, He longs to cover you with His forgiveness and give you freedom in this life. He has purpose for you. He longs for you to keep Him first, to give Him priority in your time, your finances, your decisions. He loves you so much, He wants to spend time with you, He desires for you to stay close to Him. Today, choose that which is “better.”
We were never promised a life of ease or an existence free of work. But God does promise us a life of rest. For our spirit, for our souls. He promises that His load is light. He reminds us that we never have to try to do it all on our own.
Only in Him will we find true rest in this world.
His heart is for you. His loves shines over you.
Sit at His feet. Listen for His voice. Choose what is better.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28