I recently read the story in Luke 10:38-42 about Martha and her sister, Mary. It’s a short story, only a few verses, but it spoke deep into my heart. Deep into the throes of who I am and who I strive to be.
Basically, the story is about Martha, who is “distracted by preparations” while Mary sits at the feet of Jesus. Martha, annoyed and frustrated by Mary’s laziness, whines to Jesus, “Tell her to help me!” And Jesus’ response?
He tells Martha to be more like Mary. “Mary has chosen what is better.”
I almost skimmed past reflection on this story, because I didn’t want to be convicted. Sinful much? Yes, I am.
But Jesus caused me to pause and think about Martha. Thankfully He knows better than me, because I learned something huge.
I am Martha. But I so desperately want to be Mary.
I walk around life distracted by the busyness, choosing tasks and duties over quiet and rest.
I choose to pack my schedule so tight that it can barely breathe, and then I complain because I get sick, tired, weary.
I so desperately want to rest at Jesus’ feet and yet I am the one choosing to hustle about like Martha. I am the one who fights to add something else to the calendar. I am the one who can’t sit still long enough to even watch a movie.
I don’t allow my heart to ponder. Resting at Jesus’ feet seems like another time slot to fill, a mark on the calendar – in red, so I remember.
But when I do fight to give my time to Jesus, I find myself allowing distractions and preparations to fall aside. Not perfectly, and not all the time, but God gives the gift of rest to those who seek Him.
I learned this whole lesson the hard way through the years. I have struggled with physical sickness and emotional sickness because I struggle to allow myself to sit at the feet of Jesus.
And He knew I was beginning the cycle of sin over again, because He intervened and reminded me that I am a Martha desperately wanting to be a Mary. Mary chose what was better – forget the preparations and sit at His feet.
What did I learn during this intervention from the Lord? I learned how to be a Mary in a Martha world.
To quiet my heart.
It is only when I am silent – when I pause to listen – that I can hear Jesus speaking. I run around so often distracted by details, making plans, finishing my to-do list – and I miss out on hearing Jesus speak truth to my heart. I now know that I must pause and rest at His feet, because it is there that I hear Him most clearly.
This could look like calming yourself with music after lunch on a busy day, stopping to pray instead of check Facebook, reading a verse in the morning and pondering it throughout your afternoon, and more. Really, it is anything that causes your heart to take a break from the world to rest with Jesus.
And because I’ve stilled my heart in the presence of the Lord many times to practice, it is now something I will not give up during my quiet time.
To still my body.
This is really, really hard for me. I am a go, go, go person. I enjoy being active, moving around, getting things done quickly. But the Lord is teaching me that it is okay to still my body in order to rest in His presence.
Yes, I can pray while I’m vacuuming, or read my Bible while I eat a snack – but in order to really sit in His presence, I must rest my body to meet with God.
Now, I’ve come to truly enjoy early mornings with a cup of coffee and a spot on the couch. I curl up, open my Bible or my journal, and spend my stillness with Jesus. I urge you to try it. Be completely still while you rest at His feet.
To focus my thoughts.
I can quiet my heart and still my body, but if my thoughts are still racing I will feel distracted, frustrated, and anything but calm. I think there are times when we should allow our thoughts to wander (I talk about this in my post “3 Tips for More Intentional Prayer”).
But, I don’t think Mary’s thoughts were completing lists, writing a blog post, thinking of ingredients for that dinner recipe, or thumbing through ideas for her friend’s birthday gift. I think Mary’s thoughts were focused 100% on Jesus – His majesty, His presence, His character, His promises.
In order to quiet your heart and still your body, you also must focus your thoughts. It’s like the missing piece of a puzzle. Truly resting at the feet of Jesus means intentionally focusing on Him alone.
I learned to be a Mary. After much conviction, reflection, and dedication, the Lord broke into my busyness – the brokenness of my busyness – and taught me to rest well at His feet.
What do you need to set aside in order to rest at Jesus’ feet today? How can saying no to distractions and yes to Jesus be freeing and healing?