Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. Colossians 3:23.
I am burned out. I have a piece of paper in front of me scrawled with a long list of words. The words dictate what I need to accomplish this week. School, activities, home, friends, church.
I am a first born daughter. A people-pleaser, a type A perfection-seeking, performance-based achiever. I work hard. I like crossed out lists. I like to say the word done. I have to work harder to be still, to be settled.
“Martha, Martha,” Jesus 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 10:41-42.
I want to be a Mary. But I want to be Mary after the dishes are done, the kids are quiet, the clutter put away, the dinner simmering on the stove, the emails answered, the laundry folded, the errands run. I like to be Mary when the dishwasher and the dryer are running at the same time. Otherwise, this almost-Mary feels an ugly word: guilt.
Whether that guilt is innate or learned is up for debate. Probably some of both. But it is there and I cannot dig it out.
Right now that guilt has its talons in me. I am exhausted. I have dropped a few balls this week and I breathe failure from it.
only one thing is needed.
That is what Jesus said to a driven older sister.
That phrase one thing is used three times in Scripture. Once when Jesus lovingly reprimanded Martha in Luke 10. Here are the other two times:
One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. Psalm 27:4.
David wrote Psalm 27. In His time, the Presence of the Lord dwelled in the tabernacle, soon to be the temple in the generation after David. Old Testament believers did not have the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of them like we do today. Pilgrims came from all over the world to kneel in God’s presence in the tabernacle/temple because it was the only place to be near Him. So, when David wrote Psalm 27:4, he was saying that only One Thing mattered to Him: intimacy with God. David was the man after God’s own heart, a man who recognized the priority of eagerly seeking the mysterious nearness of God.
I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Phil. 3:12-14.
What is the prize toward which we are straining? Heaven. And what is the glory of heaven? It is to walk undaunted and unblemished, whole and holy, into the Presence of God. It is the promise of the glory of unbroken intimacy with God.
One Thing = intimacy with God.
When Jesus was on earth, He was Immanuel, God With Us. I am taken under by the exquisite communion of that name of God. It is spellbinding. To have been Mary, to have sat at the very feet of Jesus and soaked Him in, to have been under the shadow of Immanuel……it is a privilege almost beyond comprehension, is it not?
And Martha was cooking dinner. Probably an awesome dinner, out of love for her Savior. But she didn’t get it.
I’d like to think that if I were in that situation, I would have been Mary. I would have ordered pizza, gotten out the paper plates, and been done with it. I really think that’s true, so that’s good. Whew. But when I think back to those Old Testament believers, I realize that I continually neglect a deep and precious gift. Unless they were the priests or Levites who lived in the tabernacle, they did not have access to the continual Presence of God, which was only found in the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle. God’s dwelling place was a physical place at that time. Now, He dwells within me.
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. 2 Cor. 6:19-20.
His Presence in my heart is a gift too precious to neglect. What do you think those Old Testament believers would have given to have the God of their pilgrimages dwell within their beings? What did it feel like to them when they experienced His Presence in the temple courts, outside of the Most Holy Place? Who, O why, do I live like that gift can only be experienced after I get my chores done?
I do not say this to shame myself or you; we do the best we can and the fact is that the laundry DOES need to get done and the bills DO need to be paid. Productivity is not the enemy of intimacy. But performance is.
So today, in spite of my uncrossed list, I curled up with my Jesus to soak Him in. It was priceless.
I have other things to do, now with a settled spirit.
I’m gonna go get ‘er done.