“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 10:42)
Wow, some of you who know me seeing my New Year’s slogan “Strive for MORE in ’24” might think I just lost my mind. I’ve been telling everyone who listens that I need to do LESS, not MORE this new year. I have written many times over the past few years about feeling overwhelmed, overworked, stressed, etc. and have tried to say “no” to many people and things when I get in this state, focusing on maintaining my peace of mind so my well does not run ‘dry’ and I have nothing to give at all.
What I mean by “MORE”…
But what I mean by “MORE” needs to be explained in light of the Bible quote above and hopefully provide some inspiration for you this new year. I’ve often struggled with this Bible passage. Jesus appears to reprimand his cousin Martha, who is busy running around cooking, cleaning, getting ready for His visit, and commend her sister Mary who greets him and sits at His feet to listen, telling them Mary chose the “better part.” I’ve felt guilty being more like Mary than Martha…choosing the “better part” by focusing on getting closer to Jesus, doing God’s will through my writing, speaking, working with other writers and people in recovery, and growing spiritually…while others in my life do the less glamorous back up work that needs to be done.
From Balance to Focus
Actually I’ve gone back and forth trying to balance my life between being like Mary and like Martha. You can’t always leave the dirty work to someone else. But then I get overwhelmed. So what I mean by striving to do more, is to once again refocus my priorities and strive to do more of what God is calling me to do. When I remember Jesus is my employer and calls me to do something to fulfill His unique purpose for me (to write a book, teach a class, speak online or on TV, etc.), as long as it isn’t for me but serves others, then that becomes Priority #1. Yes, I still need to sometimes help with the dishes, laundry, babysit, make coffee, etc. Yes, I need to reach out and be there for friends and family in need of my help. But not when it precludes me from doing God’s work. I believe we all need to do MORE of that this year. (Note, I know I still need balance too, but I tend to be easily distracted and procrastinate fulfilling God’s priority for me by using “balance” as an excuse.) We are getting closer each year to the end of our lives, the end of the world, and approaching Heaven, God willing. What if God needs us to “ramp” it up this year in serving Him?
The Innkeeper’s Wife
There was a scene in the wonderful Sight & Sound “Miracle of Christmas” show I went to see in December that was especially enlightening for me. Mary and Joseph had just arrived in Bethlehem at a super busy time when all were called to their hometowns for the census update. There was no room at the local inn, so the innkeeper’s wife showed the couple, about to have a baby, to the stable. We know the rest of the story. But in this scene, the innkeeper’s wife was torn between helping her husband accommodate their guests in the hectic inn, and helping the poor couple as Mary went into labor. Finally, she ignores her husband cries for her to help him at the inn in order to stay at the stable and hear the Baby’s first cry. Her husband comes to find her and she hands Baby Jesus to him and they both are transformed and focused only on the child who will become their Savior. The rest doesn’t matter in that moment in time.