- Baptist Beacon
by Mike Durbin
PLYMOUTH, MI – Drowsy, tired, fatigued, beat, spent, exhausted, depleted. These words describe a continuum of feelings that point to one continual need in our lives - REST. Rest is often sacrificed as the busyness, worries, and distractions of life demand our attention. In our drive to “get-er-done,” we fail to establish the biblical rhythm of rest so necessary for life. Howard Hendricks vividly describes what happens when we neglect rest, “Come apart; or you will come apart.”
The importance of rest stood out to me while reading the encounter between Jesus and His dear friends Martha and Mary. The two sisters welcome Jesus into their home and Martha immediately gets “distracted by her many tasks” (Luke 10:40). She is overwhelmed by all the things she must do as a proper hostess. Martha is busy doing all the work while her sister Mary sits at the feet of Jesus listening to His words.
One sister is working while the other is sitting. You know this isn’t going to end well! Martha gets upset and criticizes her sister Mary to Jesus: “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to serve alone? So, tell her to give me a hand.”
Martha feels the weight, the pressure, of everything needing to be just right for this special guest she has welcomed to her home. She wants everything to be perfect. It was supposed to be all about Jesus, but she ends up making the moment all about herself. “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to serve alone? So, tell her to give me a hand.” The focus is not on hospitably serving Jesus anymore, but on herself - ouch! Busyness for Jesus is often more about us than we care to admit.
Some of us, like Martha, have a difficult time slowing down or stopping. We’re busy all the time. Rest, reflection, and realignment to what’s really significant, can be replaced with constant activity if we’re not careful. Before we know it, we have the potential to end up like Martha: “distracted, worried, upset.” It’s obvious that she is irritated that Mary is not helping her get everything ready. She starts thinking more about Mary than about Jesus. Martha gets so distressed that she complains to Jesus about Mary not helping and gets quite a wakeup call when Jesus tells her: “Mary has made the right choice, and it will not be taken away from her.”
What is the right choice Mary made? Sitting at Jesus’ feet and listening to His words.
It’s interesting that we are not told what Jesus was teaching as Mary sat at His feet and listened. His words are lost as Martha interrupts Jesus to complain about Mary’s lack of help. Whatever He was teaching was lost to her (and us). Jesus lovingly corrects Martha, and what emerges is the picture of Mary, a disciple of Jesus, consuming every word He speaks. Mary is resting in Christ and experiences peace, clarity of thought and focus.
Contrast that with her sister. Martha is distracted (v. 40), worried and upset (v. 41). With so many things that need to get done, Martha feels overwhelmed. Her mind and body are racing from one thing to the next. She has trouble concentrating. She is worried that things won’t get done and upset at having to do everything herself. Mary is in a flurry of activity, but little is being accomplished.
Jesus tells Martha that “Mary has made the right choice.” While Martha was distracted by this and that, Mary made a decision that the best thing she could do was sit at the feet of Jesus. She had a moment, an opportunity that might not ever be repeated in her life. She was able to focus, to sit in the presence of Jesus, and listen to His teaching. She chose to come apart and rest in the presence of Jesus, while her sister just came apart.
Resting in Christ may not be on your to do list today, but it might just be the most important thing you do to experience the peace, clarity, and focus you need to accomplish what really matters in your life.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mike Durbin is the State Evangelism Director for the Baptist State Convention of Michigan. Before joining the state convention staff, Mike served as Church Planting Catalyst and Director of Missions in Metro Detroit since 2007. He also has served as a pastor and bi-vocational pastor in Michigan, as well as International Missionary to Brazil.