Do you often feel overwhelmed by your busy schedule? Do you arrive at the end of your days exhausted and your to-do list half undone? Do you feel frustrated by all the activity with little accomplishment?
If so, take heart. January is the season of new beginnings, resolutions, and intentional life changes. There is hope for these overbooked days.
When I think about all the things on my to-do list, I think about Martha.
I’m glad you asked.
Martha, the brother of Lazarus. You know, the guy whom Jesus raised from the dead after three days. That Martha. The Martha that scurried around her house, flour flying, pots and pans clinging, plates dinging as she prepared a meal at her home for Jesus and a group of hungry men. The Martha that snapped at Jesus as if he wasn’t the Son of God. The Martha who was frustrated because of her sister’s disregard for the things that needed to be done. After all, Mary just sat on the floor in the den listening to Jesus tell stories as if the meal was going to cook itself.
In that scenario I would have been Martha, not Mary.
I’m the one who spells hospitality with a capital H. Fill them with a delicious hot meal and lots of trimmings so they’ll want to come back for more. Make sure they’re well-fed and feeling loved through their stomach.
But poor Martha was at the point of hangry (so hungry she had become angry) or possibly she was just plain mad because everyone else was in the other room laughing and having fun while she was stuck in the kitchen. Somebody had to feed these people, but there sat Mary oblivious to Martha’s distress. And Jesus certainly wasn’t helping by keeping Mary entertained with all His stories.
Martha was working on a to-do list that had quickly become overwhelming and she needed help. So what does she do? She cries out to the Lord.
Or rather, she yells at Him. Why don’t you do something? Why don’t you make Mary get up and help me?
Isn’t that funny? Why didn’t she fuss at her sister instead? After all, she could have told Mary in front of all those guys to get up off her duff and help her, but instead Martha does something surprising. She approaches Jesus. Her guest.
Then He does something surprising. He says to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42 NIV)
Can you imagine how Martha must have felt? She asks for help and Jesus explains that Mary is doing exactly what she needs to be doing at the moment - spending time with Him. How can that be? How are these men going to get fed? Who is going to get all these things done?
At least Martha had the good sense to approach Jesus first before attacking her sister. Most likely a family squabble was averted because of that choice.
Biblegateway.com says some translations read “only one thing is needed” rather than “few things”. Regardless, Jesus points out to Martha that she needs to spend time with Him before taking on a ten-item list of other things then she too will experience the peace that Mary exhibits.
What does this have to do with New Year’s resolutions? For me, this passage in Luke speaks to Jesus’ view of minimalism and how important it is to not take on more than you can handle. At least not without seeking Him first. Less is more. Less activity and more time with Him. So….
My resolution is to simplify my schedule so I will have more time to read my Bible and pray. At the top of my to-do list each day, I will write, Only One Thing is Needed.
This will remind me to give Jesus the first part of my day so the remainder will run more smoothly.
I would love to hear about your New Year's resolutions!