I’m not sure which hour of daylight I was supposed to have saved, nor how to withdraw any of this daylight from my savings, but page 71 began with a missing hour of sleep as the clocks jumped forward an hour overnight as part of the Daylight Savings Time ruse. I use the term, “ruse”, because it is a sleight of hand that has no real ability to add, or subtract, a single moment of light to or from a day. You might say I have an opinion about this whole “time change” thing and that opinion isn’t too favorable. 🙂
Once the day got started, it was off to the church building for Sunday school and worship. Our Bible study class is in 1 Thessalonians and today we looked at Paul’s reminder to the Christians of the message of the gospel that they believed. While there were individuals attempting to bring confusion into the church, Paul affirmed that the teaching He had shared with them about the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus was not only true but shared with pure motives and love for them.
In our morning worship gathering, David continued his series from the gospel of Luke with the message, “What Is Better?”. The primary text was the story of Mary and Martha where Martha was busy doing tasks that needed done and wanted Jesus to tell Mary to help her. In the ensuing dialogue, Jesus not only addressed Martha’s attitude, He also made it clear that Mary had chosen what was better by her listening to Him. But it’s not just a story — it is an example for us to learn from and act upon. Here are some lessons from each of these sisters that we should learn from and examine our lives for which traits we need to surrender to Jesus and which we need to cultivate.
- Distracted – Life is full of distractions. For most Christians, the distractions are not necessarily bad or sinful, they’re just good things that keep us from choosing what is best. Martha was so busy taking care of things that needed done in opening up here home to guests, including Jesus, that she seems to have missed the advantage of Jesus actually being in her home. How often do you and I become so distracted by the tasks of life that we forget the very presence of Jesus dwelling within us.
- Worried – If the distractions don’t get us, worry is often close on its heels to keep us from trusting God. Jesus said that Martha was worried about many things — likely about how everything was going to get done that was on her list. Worry puts a barrier between us and God because it plants doubts in our mind about God’s trustworthiness. I know we often have a tough time when it comes to distinguishing between genuine concern and worry, but perhaps a good measurement would involve determining if we are being drawn to God or feel blocked from God. Concern should draw us to seeking God for wisdom and His solution. Worry puts up a wall between us and God as we begin to doubt we can trust Him.
- Upset – Being upset has a way of isolating our mind from any good thoughts and positive direction. When we are upset, our entire view of who or what we are upset at changes. Being upset keeps us from having an accurate view of a situation as our mind focuses solely on the cause of being upset rather than on a solution. Martha was upset. She was upset with her sister. She was upset by thinking she had to do all the work. Perhaps she was even upset with Jesus for not noticing all that she was doing and send Mary to help her. Jesus said she was upset about many things and it was keeping her from noticing the better things.
- Sitting – Mary chose to sit at the feet of Jesus. Sitting is a good counter-measure to distractions. Life has a way of presenting too many good options to us all at once. When we choose to sit with Jesus, we show that He is better than all the other things we could be doing. Yes, our times of sitting should lead us to doing the things we learn from Jesus, but sitting helps us to overcome the distractions and hear what Jesus is saying.
- Listening – Mary wasn’t sitting in order to avoid the work her sister was doing, she was intent on listening to what Jesus had to say. Deliberately listening helps us to overcome worry because in our times of listening we learn that God can be trusted. God continues to desire to communicate with us through prayer and His Word, but to do so effectively, we must listen. Our listening needs to be done in a manner that is causes us to respond appropriately to what God is saying.
- Choosing – While it is easy to make excuses for our Martha-like behavior, God says that Mary’s response to Jesus was a choice she made. Yes, distractions, worry, and being upset can be more natural to us than the alternatives, but we have the option to choose what is better. Choosing the better combats being upset because in doing so, we decide that the things or people who have made us upset do not have mastery over us. For most people, sitting and listening to Jesus requires that we choose to do so — it doesn’t just happen.
Following the worship gathering, I spent a lazy afternoon doing as little as possible. Susan was not feeling well and had seizures throughout the afternoon, so I provided some comfort to her and eventually took a nap. With no photos being taken today, I chose one from Friday morning for today’s page. I had set my camera up to time-lapse photograph the sunrise while I worked in the building and when I came outside there were two deer that seemed to have an interest in my camera. They saw me and headed to the end of the field, but stopped there to pose while they continued to keep an eye on me.
As I reflect on the day, here are some thoughts/lessons that stand out to me:
- Change is difficult — especially when the change makes no logical sense.
- It is good to be reminded not only of the purity of the gospel message you have responded to, but to examine the purity of the gospel message you are sharing.
- We all make choices multiple times each day.
- It is good to have the wisdom to choose good over evil, but how often do we consider choosing what is better over what is simply good?
- Distractions can be reduced by learning to deliberately sit at the feet of Jesus.
- Worry can be reduced by learning to deliberately listen to the words of Jesus.
- Being upset at things and people can be lessened by learning to choose the better for our self and valuing the better choices of others.