It Feels Like a Tightrope Act

“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, NIV)

Viewed by many as overly organized, I like to get matters taken care of. Teaching a Bible study, writing Christian devotions, maintaining a home—all good things I easily become engrossed in. But as I’ve heard it said before,

I don’t want to be so busy working for God that I’m too busy for God.

Today’s featured scripture tells the story of Martha who was so occupied tending to preparations that she was missing what Jesus had to say. Can you envision Martha fluttering around her house tidying up, cooking food, and serving her guests? Meanwhile, Mary is sitting near Jesus soaking up his teachings. Martha was probably disturbed, but she didn’t know what else to do. So many tasks, even though I believe her deep desire was to listen to the Teacher after she readied the meal.

I have struggled with this same issue in my life, and while I don’t have it down perfectly, I’m learning. My goal is to achieve a Martha-Mary balance between doing what it takes to get ministry items done versus spending time with our Lord and other important relationships.

The balance is tricky, but prioritizing will benefit us. As Pastor Andy Stanley plainly states, “We don’t drift in good directions. We discipline and prioritize ourselves there.”

To begin with, we need to make time each day to meet with our Lord in prayer and Bible study. Some days are smoother than others are, but God knows our intentions as we give Him our heart. Soon enough, the remainder of the day will evaporate, so let’s attempt to set aside time. Time at our desks or kitchen tables for regular Bible study. Time for prayer as we remove ourselves to a quiet spot in our homes or go on our morning walks, while remembering we can also talk to our Heavenly Father throughout the day.

Next, take time for relationships. When busyness swallows us up, and what we believe to be urgent is our preoccupation, we run over and forget people. This includes our family, our friends, our neighbors—all vital relationships. Recently I’ve had to scale back on a ministry activity because it wasn’t allowing me the freedom to nurture and sustain some friendships. Do you find yourself in a similar situation?

Finally, I encourage you to run a smooth household, but without tripping up over petty details. It keeps family members happier and in the end, frees you up. Every home is different, and you know whether it involves getting dinners on the table in a timely fashion, or keeping an up-to-date calendar, or clearing away the clutter. My encouragement is to get it done, as over the long-term those action steps will provide additional time for you to abide with your first love—Jesus.

A certain amount of busyness seems a guarantee these days. But if we become absorbed in all the “stuff,” we fail to see Jesus in the midst of our lives. Such a cliché—stop and smell the roses—but how true it is. My prayer for you, and for myself, is for us to slow down and know Jesus.

Father God, Often my Martha-like actions prevent me from being more like Mary. I want to immerse myself in Your presence, but still live in a responsible manner. Please help me to achieve a Martha-Mary balance in my life which glorifies You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Bible Truths:

Psalm 46:10a (NIV): “Be still, and know that I am God.”

Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NIV): “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.”

Matthew 6:33 (NIV): “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Matthew 11:28 (NIV): “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

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But I Made All These Plans

“In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” Proverbs 16:9 (NIV)

Life was going along smoothly until one Saturday morning when my husband walked in the house holding the front page of The Wall Street Journal which announced the company he had faithfully worked at for 32 years was being “acquired” by another company. So began a roller coaster ride as we fervently worked to prepare for the worse. The Lord graciously showed us how to streamline our lifestyle and cut back on expenses, as the anticipated layoff did occur. Foremost in our minds, though, was the continual thought that we had intended to work five more years and then retire. Well, retirement came earlier than planned for us.

I found myself asking, “But Lord, I made all these plans. Now what?” Continue reading

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No Thanks, I’ll Do It Myself

Perhaps you enjoy entertaining and having guests into yourhome for dinner. When asked if they can assist by bringing a side dish or dessert, you reply, “No thanks, I’ve got it.” Or, you’re the type of woman, who in your bullheadedness, thinks, “I can manage this giant suitcase on my own,” only to realize you’ve just thrown your back out—again. Or, you find yourself sinking under the weight of a habit, but you don’t want any help, don’t want anyone to know, and so you attempt to tackle it on your own. Pride once more rears its ugly head.

Taking matters into our own hands is like attempting to fold a fitted sheet.

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Before It’s Too Late

Gathered in the fireside room of the sizeable church, were a friendly and engaging group of people. As we assembled, our pastor lifted prayers before our Father, many in the group shared memories and funny stories, special music provided honor, and our pastor read scripture and extended an invitation to salvation in Jesus Christ. The occasion was the memorial service for my mother-in-law, but despite all the perfect details, something was still wrong. One major player was missing. One of my mother-in-law’s daughters and that daughter’s family did not attend. Now it was too late.

The rift began many years prior, the details of which are now inconsequential. There was never any forgiveness or reconciliation on either side, and the years only deepened the wound and the separation.

Right the wrongs, before it’s too late.

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All the Time in the World?

Nervously clicking the “submit” button, I realized I was holding my breath. Slowly, I exhaled, aware of the importance of what I had just done. This was a sizeable step of faith for me as I submitted my first Christian article for publication. Although I’ve always had a passion for writing, I had done nothing about going public with it until several years ago. What changed my mind?

As I’ve gotten older the reality strikes me that I don’t have much time left. In fact, none of us know when our days on earth may be over. Yet, simultaneously, being newly retired, I also have all the time in the world these days. What a lovely paradox.

I have all this time, but at the same moment, time is short. Continue reading

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