“Martha, Martha.” Jesus was most likely shaking his head as He gazed intently into Martha’s eyes and chided her with these familiar words, "Martha, Martha, 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 10:41-42 NIV)
I have often found myself similarly repeating a child’s name, both as a teacher and as a parent. Disappointment, frustration, and incredulity are what I am usually feeling at the time. Don’t you realize? Can’t you see? Is it really that hard to understand? I wish I could say that I am always on the side of “getting it,” and yet at times I hear Jesus’ gentle, incredulous voice calling, “Shari, Shari, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed…”
Why is it so hard for me to see and understand? For one thing, I am good at rationalizing. I have rationalized that my strivings are worthwhile, that what I am doing is for the cause of Christ. After all, somebody has to do those worthwhile things that take time and effort, right?
It’s true. Somebody has to do the real work that worthwhile ministries require. I can’t and should not turn my back on all of these opportunities. Besides, the work of my hands is often a work of heart, an expression of love in and of itself.
I sincerely believe God honors my gifts of labor. When spending time with Jesus feels like an intrusion, however, I am too busy -period. It matters not that my fingers are raw from cooking for the homeless, nor that my feet ache from fund-raising for missions. If my relationship with Jesus Christ has been sacrificed or pushed aside in order to accomplish these good things, my efforts mean nothing. How easy it is to forget the One I am supposedly serving.
Music is one of the chief ways I have always worshipped and communed with God. In recent months I have spent less and less time playing the piano and singing songs of praise. Above my piano hangs a plaque that says, “The Lord respects me when I work, but He loves me when I sing.” I have simply been too busy, but what could be more important than singing praises to my Savior and Friend?
I hear Him chiding, "Shari, Shari..." and then it occurs to me that God, the creator of the universe, the only One worthy of praise, knows my name! He notices when I'm worried and stressed, and He cares when I get too busy for Him! That He desires to spend time with me in loving fellowship is almost more than my human mind can comprehend. How foolish of me to let other things get in the way. Being with Jesus is the better thing -the one thing I need. Nothing else even comes close.
Jesus, help me to desire the better thing. Help me to be WITH You, and not merely busy FOR You. Let me see my time with You as necessary above all other things. Fill me with a greater longing for those sweet times of singing, prayer, and time in Your Word. In your precious name I pray, Amen.
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