“THERE’S A LOT TO DO, BUT THERE’S ONLY ONE TO SERVE.”
That statement struck me at my core. In a culture that values busyness and embraces distractions, it’s a fight to focus on what really matters.
For me, there aren’t enough hours in the day to do all of things I want, so I’m forced to choose. Something will have to be postponed until tomorrow, finished at a later time, or forgotten about altogether. In the past, that thing that I often put off, was my alone time with God. I said I desired Him, but my actions said different.
This is the struggle – worship over work: Learning how to choose Jesus over our to-do lists and make time for Him no matter what. I love the story of Mary and Martha in the gospel of Luke. Mary beautifully illustrates how to worship instead of work.
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “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 10:38-42
Martha opened her home and invited Jesus in, but in trying to serve Him she actually neglected spending time with Him. As Christians, we’ve opened our hearts to Jesus and accepted Him as savior, but we can let our service to God take priority over spending time with Him.
IT’S OUR CHOICE
In pursuing opportunities to serve God, whether in our careers, as parents, or as leaders in our school or community, we can neglect our relationship with Him. We will choose to work overtime at our job, but will we choose to stay up late or get up early to sit at our Lord’s feet? Our worship of Him should come before our work for Him. Martha missed this, but Mary grasped it. Mary chose worship, to sit at Jesus feet, and to soak up His presence. True worship isn’t in what we do but in adoring the One we do it for.
Like Mary and Martha, we have the chance to sit in the presence of God and commune with Him daily. We decide whether we miss out or press in. Anything we place as greater importance than God or pursue instead of Him is an idol. We must seek God to keep Him in his rightful place as our number one pursuit.
Related Post: Striving vs. Thriving
It’s our one on one time with God that changes us. Martha went to the Lord complaining about her sister, but Mary didn’t even respond or defend herself! When we’re preoccupied by our problems or responsibilities we become worried, hopeless, irritable, and resentful. We’ll find ourselves seeking God’s hand to fix a problem or meet a need. But when we are captivated by His presence, we find all we need in Him alone. Our time isn’t about Him helping us, but about us learning from Him.
HOW DO WE CHANGE?
First, make room in your heart. Be honest with yourself and God, and surrender anything you’ve put ahead of Him. Ask Him for wisdom on what to prioritize and what to let go of. When we seek Him with our whole heart and a humble spirit, He will be gracious and help up remove all idols and distractions from our life.
Next, make room in your schedule. Practically, you can do this by scheduling your devotional time and sticking to it like you would any meeting or appointment. If you have to re-arrange your schedule or you’re running late then be intentional with the time you do have. I’ve learned that skipping breakfast to pray is more satisfying than any meal. I’ve delayed chores, forgone my full make-up routine, and chosen to stay up later – anything to make time for my Savior. It doesn’t matter if I’m physically full or perfectly put together if I’m spiritually empty and a mess.
The last thing you need to do (and the most important) is die to your flesh. Trust me, your flesh will despise the discipline. It will want to eat, to sleep in, or finish that project you’ve been working on for weeks. It will try to rationalize with you that you don’t have to give up serving in those ministries even though God told you to. But when we die to our flesh we give life to our spirit. Right now, I have a shoe rack I need to put together but I know that it can wait. My shoes will be fine without a rack for another week, but my soul is not okay without its Source for even a day. Stand firm in your pursuit and don’t let your desires or feeling dictate your actions.
TIME SPENT WITH GOD IS NEVER IN VAIN
These simple acts will have major spiritual consequences. Work wears us out, but worship fills us up because it’s what we were made to do. In His presence is peace, joy, and rest. When we sit with Jesus, He gives us answers to our questions and solutions for our problems. In Him we are filled up so we can pour out His patience, love, and grace instead of our frustration, hate, and pride. Whatever you have to do, choose Him. He is what’s better because He is what is greater.