God challenged me on New Years day.
I had set aside time to be with Him, asking Him about 2022. I was praying for direction and talking to Him about the future. And He was silent.
It took me a while to realise that I was in a one-sided conversation. I was talking AT God, not with Him. So – I stopped. And we sat in silence for a long while. In the quiet, I felt the gentle rebuke. “Beverley, Beverley, you are worried and troubled about many things, but only one thing is needed.” (Yes, that is a paraphrase of Luke 10:41-42.)
I knew immediately that He was talking to me about Martha. In Luke 10:38 – 42, we read the story of the sisters who hosted their friend, Jesus, in their home. The scripture tells us that Martha was ‘distracted with much serving’, while Mary chose to sit at His feet, listening to Him talk.
Martha wants Jesus to rebuke her sister for being lazy and not helping her, but Jesus refuses. Instead He gently speaks to her about her heart. “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.” Jesus is cutting to the heart of the issue. Martha wants to hear what Jesus is saying. In fact I think that she longs to be able to sit at His feet, like Mary, but her responsibilities and mental busyness keep her from fully giving herself to Him. And Jesus sees it all.
Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.
That word worried means ‘anxious, troubled or burdened with care’. Martha had things on her mind. People to feed and serve. The needs of those visiting had to be met. She felt the weight of responsibility to care for everyone. They had come to hear Jesus and she wanted to do a good job. She wanted things to be perfect for Jesus and His guests. How many times are we weighed down with worries and troubles. We so much want to do all that God has for us, that our hearts become anxious. Are we doing the right things? Have we heard God correctly? Are we spending enough time with Him? How can we find or fulfill our destiny? These things can make us anxious especially at the beginning of a new year.
But that’s not all Jesus said about Martha. He also said that she was troubled. That word troubled is the Greek word, turbazo, which means ‘to be disturbed or disquieted in your mind’. It comes from the root word which means ‘a noise, an uproar, a tumult, as of people wailing.’ Martha was anxious but there was also a lot of noise in her mind. I think that refers to the voices that we often hear in our head. The opinions of others. Our negative self-talk. The noise of the media. These many voices create a cacophony that drowns out the soft, still voice of Jesus.
This was the challenge that Martha faced. She wanted to hear what Jesus was saying – but the worries and troubles of her heart stopped her from receiving. And I found myself in the same place on New Years day.
My heart was distracted. What was going to happen in 2022? Would it be like the last year? We have all experienced so much grief, pain and confusion in the last year – what was to be done about that? How do we move forward? On and on these thoughts ran around my mind and heart. It was only when I stopped talking and sat in silence – I saw my litany of questions and petitions were rooted in anxiety and concern for the future. In the stillness, I could discern the noise of multiple opinions thumping in my heart, demanding attention. I slowly laid them all down at His feet. The worries, the fears, the ambivalence, the voices and the questions.
Finally, I chose one thing. To sit at His feet. My heart focused on Jesus. And. Nothing. Else.
I just sat.
And then I realized. He was challenging me. He was reminding me. Only ONE THING is needed. Jesus. We all know it. We have all chosen Him. But how quickly we are pulled away from that ONE THING heart focus. How quickly the world wants to make Jesus just ONE OF THE THINGS in our life. The New Year is an opportunity to return to the ONE THING. An opportunity to again choose Jesus above our own wants and desires. To choose Jesus above the ideas and pressures of the world. To choose His way, not our own.
As we head into 2022, there are many voices clamouring for our attention. There are desperate needs, serious problems and overwhelming anxieties that all want to consume you. But in the midst of this, Jesus is saying - ONE THING is needed. If we can choose that ONE THING, we will have all we need to walk through 2022.
My prayer for you as we start this new year is that we will all, like Mary, choose that good part. I pray that His grace will empower you to lay aside every distraction and concern and take your place at His feet. I pray that as you turn the eyes of your heart on Him, you will hear His voice with great clarity and power. I pray that He would write His word for you on your heart. And I ask that, through the power of the Holy Spirit, that word would invigorate your whole being, bringing His light and life to your world in 2022.