Is it just me, or does the word “busy” define life right now? It seems like everyone (including me) is so… well, busy. So, let’s take a moment, slow things down a bit, and evaluate what is really going on here.
It seems as though a lot of us are all caught-up in the same sort of activities. From work, to school, homework, household chores, caring for the family, grocery shopping, car check-ups, soccer practice, trips to the mall, not to mention ministry opportunities and church activities, phew… we are a busy people. But, the question I would like for us to look at is whether we are all busy with the right sort of activities?
Well, if you can relate at all to the “laundry-list” (no pun intended) of responsibilities above, then take heart. I recently read something that encouraged me & I pray that it might be of encouragement to you as well. In her book, Idols of the Heart: Learning to Long for God Alone, Elyse Fitzpatrick uses the biblical illustration of two sisters, Martha & Mary, to address the question that we have posed above. She looks at the issues of the heart that may underly our compulsion for busy-ness and help us clear-out some time in our schedules for the right sort of activities (p. 32-33):
“As the Lord lovingly looked into His distraught servant’s face, He said, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her’ (Luke 10:41-42).
I don’t think I’ve ever met a Christian woman for whom Christ’s words weren’t piercingly convicting. It seems that serving in material ways is for some reason easier and more rewarding than sitting at the Lord’s feet, listening to Him. Why is that? Does this inclination indicate a problem with our worship? Our love? And what is that ‘good part’ that Mary had chosen and Martha and many of us miss?
Have you ever met anyone who was too devoted to the Lord, who was too focused on loving Him? I haven’t. In fact, I don’t think it is possible. As Richard Baxter says, ‘Infinite goodness cannot possibly be loved too much.’ I’m not talking about being devoted in some mystical way that precludes responsible living. I’m talking about the difficulty when we try to focus our daily lives, moment by moment, on loving, worshiping, and serving the Lord–on sitting at His feet…
Even in my Christian ministry responsibilities, it’s possible for me to worship gods of my own making… gods of my reputation, my plans for the day, my ideas. Its easy to get so frustrated and caught up in serving the Lord that I forget to love and worship Him. It’s during those times that I begin to think, like Martha, that God doesn’t care about me. The truth about His love and sacrificial care is clouded by my plans and desires. [I can totally relate to this 😦 ]
Martha’s problem isn’t unique… Why is it so easy for us to get weighted down and entrapped? It’s because, as John Calvin said, our hearts manufacture other gods…
Exodus 20:3 says, ‘You shall have no other gods before Me.’ In this simple statement the Lord God, Creator of the heavens an earth, directs our entire focus and destiny. our response to these eight short words, so seemingly inconsequential, influence every facet of our lives, now and eternally. Is the one needful thing that Mary found and Martha missed encapsulated in this terse command? Did Martha have another god before Jehovah?” (p. 32-33)
I submit these same questions to us all: in our busy-ness, is it possible that we are striving to serve a god other than the true & living God? I must confess that I am well aware of the fact that, at times, like Elyse, I too can get so caught-up in trying to impress others or even myself (i.e. my schedule, my plans, my pride) that I also loose sight of who I really ought to be serving. But, with this realization comes GREAT hope!!!
God promises that, for those who confess their sins, He is faithful & just to forgive us of our sins. Not only that, but He also promises to cleanse us from our sins too (1 John 1:9). So, whenever I find myself getting caught-up in the busy-ness of life, it is helpful for me to re-evaluate my schedule (item by item, if necessary) to determine which activities I am scheduling out of a heart of love & service to God. For those activities, which I am scheduling for other reasons (i.e. wanting to please others, seeking the approval of others, seeking opportunities to boast in my accomplishments, seeking control over my schedule & others, etc), I need to confess them before the Lord. Then, I need to ask for His forgiveness for serving gods of my own making instead of serving Him. Lastly, I need to prayerfully & humbly consider removing those activities from my schedule, which do not bring glory & honor to Him.
I would strongly encourage anyone else, who may be caught-up in the “Martha Syndrome”, to do the same! There is so much blessing that can come from deliberately choosing to only pursue activities that bring glory & honor to God. Also, it will free-up otherwise wasted time for you to devote to other things… like “sitting at the Lord’s feet.” 🙂