Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Barrenness of a Busy Life

"Beware the barrenness of a busy life."  -- Aristotle 
        "He who is too busy doing good finds no time to be good."  -- RabindranathTagore

Entering the village of Bethany, Jesus had no where to go for respite.  But a woman who apparently had the gift of hospitality invited Him to her home.  She lived there with her sister, Mary, and brother, Lazarus.  Over the years, they, along with their sister, Martha, would become "extended family" to Jesus.  But on this particular day, His stop at their home generated a little conflict.  You see, Martha, with that gift of hospitality, was an obsessive hostess.  She wanted everything to be perfect -- the cleaning, the food preparation, the "many tasks" mentioned in Luke 10:40.  Mary, on the other hand, was so captivated by Jesus that she simply sat at His feet hanging on to every word He spoke.  Martha didn't like what she saw, so she shifted her focus from her busy-ness to Mary and complained to Jesus.  "Lord, don't You care that my sister has left me to serve alone?  Tell her to give me a hand." But Jesus would have no part of it.  He said, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but one thing is necessary.  Mary has made the right choice, and it will not be taken away from her."  The whole story is found in Luke 10:38-42.

American society has become saturated with smart phones, tablets, year-round sports, longer academic years, and longer work weeks.  It's a culture of busy-ness.  From hurried children to harried pastors, people move from one appointment to the next in an effort to find a niche, strengthen self-esteem, or build a legacy.  Even among Christians, the combination of church, community, occupational, and family responsibilities can become burdensom.  In the process of fulfilling one's obligations, one's focus can become a bit skewed.  That happens when our busy-ness precludes time alone with God.  Over the course of time, the empty spirit finds little joy in the activities that have become what Jesus called "many things."  They are distractions that keep us from the "one thing (that) is necessary."  Far too often, we immerse ourselves in doing what we think is good while neglecting the one thing that Jesus said was an absolute necessity for purposeful, abundant, life --- to sit at His feet and drink in His presence.

Martha did nothing wrong.  In fact, all the things she was doing were good.  But what Mary was doing was best and necessary and Jesus commended her for it.  Don't settle for good when Jesus wants you to experience His best.  Don't become distracted by so many things that you neglect the ONE thing that Jesus said is necessary.  If we desire to do what Christ wants us to do, our first priority must be to become what Christ wants us to be.  Our greatest responsibility as disciples is to become more like Jesus and the way that happens is by spending time at His feet.  Empty gas tanks mean the vehicle doesn't run. Empty water bottles provide no relief from thirst. And empty spirits go through the motions, but never really experience the abundant life that Jesus promises.

The only way to refill and refuel is time spent at the Master's feet.  I want to challenge you!  For the next 30 days, carve out 15 minutes each day to read your Bible and spend some time praying.  Use a Bible translation that is easy to understand.  HCSB, TEV, NLT come to mind (if you're buying, just ask for them by initials).  Use a commentary if you have one, but only as an illustrative companion.  It is God's word and your prayers that will open your mind and heart to all that Christ desires to do in you, for you, and through you.  Take the challenge  . . .  15 minutes a day with Jesus.  Perhaps, by the end of this 30 day period, your thirst for time with Him will be as strong as that of Mary.  Then you will discover, as she did, that He will never disappoint you.