PDF of Study Guide available HERE.
There are rhythms in life that will sustain us. We are not the first generation to face difficulty. There are ways to strengthen our souls and steady our hearts. Our journey begins with our attention to the moment in which we currently reside.
Luke 10:38-42 (NLT) As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39 Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. 40 But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”
41 But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! 42 There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”
I love this story, but I don’t always love how this story has been presented. I don’t agree with the statement, “You gotta learn to be a Mary in this old Martha world.” Something that should be obvious in the story is that Martha is the one who invited Jesus to her home. No Martha, no house, no lunch, and ultimately no Jesus sitting among them teaching.
The problem in this story is not, WHO Martha was. Who GOD created Martha to be was fine and had purpose. Being Martha was fine. Being Mary was fine. Jesus did not what Martha to be Mary.
If You Lose Your Why…
The Right Thing. You know it’s the right thing to invite Jesus into your home. Martha invited Jesus over. Mary got to shine because Martha was willing to make a big sacrifice. Feeding Jesus and his crew was no small undertaking. But somehow we quickly move from, “Jesus, we’d love to have you” to “Martha, Martha”.
Distracted by Serving. We know that Jesus is a big fan of serving others. “The greatest will be a servant to all.” Mary isn’t better than Martha because she wasn’t serving. Martha isn’t worse because she was serving. But something went wrong. Martha’s serving heart that wanted Jesus in her home became a critical heart toward her sister. What happened?
Martha got Distracted. Eugene Peterson (responsible for the Message Bible) once said, “Martha was distracted with much serving. Distracted means not paying attention. It means not having a center or an anchor, being pulled this way and pulled that way by whoever and by whatever.“
Martha’s task became larger than Mary’s, why? Think about it, Why did Martha want to have Jesus over? Do you think the purpose was so that she could work in the kitchen the entire time while everyone else had fun with Jesus? This happens all the time. We host events in our homes, at church, in the park, and so on. It is so very easy to end up so focused on the task of serving that you forget why you are serving.
Lose Your Why, Lose Your Way. When Martha got distracted she went after her sister and tried to use Jesus to do it. I don’t know about you but, I know that I have asked God to straighten out a few people. BUT, Mary was not the problem. And, Jesus was not the problem. Martha wasn’t even the problem. Martha HAD a problem. Distraction. It stole her WHY. Without her WHY, anxiety and trouble are all that’s left.
The things we do for God must be fueled by time spent with God. It’s hard to imagine trying to serve God without enjoying Him, but it happens often. Distraction causes anxiety. That is why we have so much anxiety today.
Proverbs 4:25-26 (NLT) Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. 26 Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path.
Distraction Is Our Full-Time Job
Where is Our Attention Going? How would we handle a dinner party for 16? Would you have Pinterest open on your tablet for just the right place setting? How about Youtube to learn how to make something? Or, Instagram to post before and after pictures. Oh, and gosh look at how Sally’s turned out. You know what you need, another screen!
And, you’re not sure why you are stressed out. We are pulled in every direction and unable to fully give ourselves to anything. 1617 is the number. That is the average number of times we touch our phones in a day. There are 1440 minutes in a day, and we touch our phones 1617 times. The average phone usage is 4 hours a day. Our average TV consumption is 4 hours a day, too. That’s 8 hours a day, What does that mean? ANXIETY AND TROUBLE. Why? Because DISTRACTION is our full-time job. 40 hours a week, our mind, our focus, and our attention is given over to some compulsive pull toward WHAT?
Where is Your Energy Going? Are you busy? Are you winning the “Busy” contest? “Well, I’m just so busy. I’m running here, there, EVERYWHERE?” Have you ever considered how exhausting it is to carry everything all at once? When we say we’re busy, what we really mean is, I’m not really here with you.
Reject Busyness. You can handle your responsibilities without carrying them all at once.Jesus did. He went to weddings and parties. He carried the greatest of all, and people invited him to stuff and he went. You can be busy, or you can be present. You choose.
Your Greatest Resource is your ATTENTION. Everyone is everywhere all at once. But, society is a twisted tool of measure. Normal is not okay when you live in an asylum. “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” Just because everyone else is caught up in the rat-race, doesn’t mean that it is best for you or your family. You can be different.
Be Here, Now! If you forgot your “why” find it and live it. We don’t just do stuff to have stuff to do. We go to church to connect with God and others. We give to help others connect with God and others, because God’s kingdom is more important. We spend time with people because we need to serve, to know, and to be known. Be present when and where you are. David laid it out like this:
Psalms 131:2 (NLT) Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself, like a weaned child who no longer cries for its mother’s milk. Yes, like a weaned child is my soul within me.
What does he mean? God was enough for him. He didn’t need something from God. He just needed God. That is presence. I like it right here Father. I like it right here. I refuse all pulls into nothing, for I am deeply enraptured by something greater.