Priorities for 2017
My children used to laugh at me when they would see me start to make lists to get tasks accomplished, organize gift giving and plan family meals. However, now that they are adults, each of them has seen the wisdom of organization. Now they all use this skill in their careers. One is a parts manager for a large auto dealership, one is a sales representative for a successful manufacturer, one is using time management skills in the construction industry, one is in HR management for a nursing home, and one is managing her home daycare business. Organization is essential for each of their lives. However powerful being organized and hard work is, there is something even more important.
Luke is the only Gospel writer who records the conflict between Martha and Mary. God used this narrative to teach us to keep our priorities right. The account of Jesus’ visit to the home of Martha and Mary is very short, but it is powerful.
Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42 (ESV)
When I use my “sanctified imagination” I envision that Martha may have been one of those women who were always prepared. She probably had extra supplies ready to prepare a meal for unexpected guests. The day that Jesus arrived she may have quickly tidied, and swept the floor. She may have been one of those women who wanted everything perfect before welcoming company into her home. “But Martha was distracted with much serving.” Martha’s mind seemed to be on the way things appeared to others, rather than on her guest.
Martha informed Jesus that she had been busy with preparations for the company that had just arrived at her house. She complained about the fact that Mary was just sitting around doing nothing. (Again, my paraphrase.)
However, Jesus makes things very clear. Sitting at the feet of Jesus, listening to Him, learning from Him, needs to take priority above all else. The tasks that Martha was doing were helpful, and probably useful, but for the short time Jesus was with them, He reminded her that the time spent with Him was necessary.
Yes, sitting at the feet of Jesus is necessary, not just preferred. It is not something for me to to just when I have time; it is something I am not able to do without.
When my children were small, I would pray “Lord, please keep the children sleeping in the morning so that I am able to get up and have my devotions, and spend some quiet time with you.” However, even if I didn’t make a sound when I got out of bed at 5am, the youngest would always wake up and need attention. During those years my private times with the Lord were very sporadic. One day a leader of the young moms’ group asked me to come to their gathering and bring a devotion for the ladies. The topic was to be “Quiet Times with the Lord.” Oh my… This was before I had learned how to say “no.” Well, the first thing I did was go to one of my mentors. Surely she would be able to give me advice. “Marion,” I said. You were a mission nurse in Nigeria. You had five children, and much responsibility. How did you fit in quiet time with the Lord? Marion hung her head and said “Debi, sometimes the only time I had to be alone with the Lord was on my walk from our home to the clinic.” During our conversation with my mentor that day, she helped me to realize that our quiet time will look differently at different times in our lives. I was able to assure the young mothers that day that we were not bad women because we did not always find long periods of time to spend in His Word daily. I encouraged them to be aware of the moments God did provide and use those opportunities to be alone with Him.
Each of us is able to find strength, wisdom and direction from God. God speaks through the sermons we hear in our local church, the Christian Radio broadcasts available on the radio and on-line. But, yes, the most personal way the Lord speaks to us is through the systematic study of scripture.
I have found that the more often I take the time for deeper Bible study, the more opportunities I find. I also have found that every time I read Psalm 119, I fall in love with scripture more. Yes it’s the longest chapter in the Bible. Here are a few verses that stand out.
2 Blessed are those who keep His testimonies,
who seek Him with their whole heart,
3 who also do no wrong,
but walk in His ways!
11 I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.
37 Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things;
and give me life in your ways.
These next verses bring hope and a promise when others question our opinions and ideas.
41 Let your steadfast love come to me, O Lord,
your salvation according to your promise;
42 then shall I have an answer for him who taunts me,
for I trust in your word.
The more time I spend in God’s Word, the more closely I learn to hear and follow His voice, the better I will be equipped to “have an answer” for those who disagree with me. My answer will often be to let my idea go, and to accept the ideas of others. But however I “answer” it will be with the love and grace that my Lord requires of me as His follower.
Finding my time to sit at the feet of Jesus is absolutely necessary.
Debi Snider... more
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