Like you, I tend to live a busy life. Between my marriage, work, volunteer positions, family and writing, my schedule gets filled up pretty quickly. However, I’m probably farther down the line on the busy scale. Those of you who have kids most certainly find your schedules pressed up against the margins. But it doesn’t really matter who has the busiest schedule. The point is that we’re all busy.
But is that good?
I think we as a culture have greatly undervalued time. It’s a commodity to us. In America, we pack our schedules as tight as we can. Other cultures I’ve experienced don’t live this way.
I went on a trip to the Domincan Republic a few years back. The culture there is extremely hospitable. But more than that, they seem to value shared experience over being busy. It was routine for someone to have a guest come in for a meal that would stretch for hours. In that culture, they value being present with the person who is with them in that moment rather than being stretched in a million different directions.
Even in France I saw this. The culture just moved at a slower pace. Reading that sentence from an American point of view, you may consider that a bad thing. But I feel the exact opposite. It was so refreshing to slow down and enjoy the present moment wherever I was.
It’s easy to make your schedule busier, but it’s very difficult to pare it down. But as I look at the Bible, and especially the Gospels, it seems Jesus was much more focused on being present than on checking tasks off a to-do list. One of the most famous passages centered on this topic comes in Luke chapter 10. It’s the story of Mary and Martha.
Bible Gateway passage: Luke 10:38-42 - New International Version
At the Home of Martha and Mary - As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named…
Most of the time when this story is discussed, we bash Martha for being so focused on busy work when Jesus was right there in front of her. We praise Mary and obviously assume we would respond like her, not Martha. But I think we would respond EXACTLY like Martha did. Why? Because we do it every day.
Jesus wants to meet with us throughout our day. He is present with us. Not in the physical sense, no. We can’t see him or touch him like Mary could. But nonetheless, he wants to speak to us. Often, however, we are too busy to listen.
The One Necessary Thing
“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary.” — Luke 10:41–42
I certainly know what it’s like to be anxious and troubled about many things. That’s almost a daily occurence. Can you relate? But I wondered what would happen if I focused more on the one thing that is necessary — seeking out “Jesus moments” throughout my day. Moments where He wants to break through the clutter and speak to me.
Again, in the Christian faith, we believe that God is with us at all times. That is a powerful statement. At any moment of my day, I can speak with the Creator of the world. In fact, it’s almost silly to think about how much time I spend worrying about various things when God is literally right there for me to talk to.
I used to think that God was just kidding when He told us not to worry. But now I realize that He meant that. We don’t have to live in a constant state of anxiety, worrying about all the tasks we haven’t completed. He wants to release us from that. He wants us to come sit at His feet and spend time with Him. That’s the one necessary thing.
I don’t know what it will look like for me to simplify my life. I don’t know where God wants to take me. But I do know that He’s there, and He wants to spend time with me each day. He wants to break through the clutter.
When I read Luke 10:41–42, I hear Jesus saying, “Aaron, you pore over every task in your mind endlessly. You’re wearing yourself out when you don’t need to. All you need to do is spend time with me. That’s it.”
Does that mean I’ll just stop doing everything and sit and pray all day? No. While some are called to that life, I have not been. But that’s the amazing part — I can meet with Jesus anywhere! He’s always with me.
While I’m working or while I’m at home with my wife, Jesus is there too. So, instead of worrying about something I’ll have to do tomorrow or about the plans for the weekend, I can give that anxiety to Him. I can talk with Him about it. I can listen.
We live in a world and a culture that pushes us to our limits of stress. In America, it’s just a given that you’re going to be busy and stressed out all the time. I don’t think that’s necessary. Only one thing is necessary.
I think I’m going to go talk with Jesus about that now.
Aaron Charles is a writer and marketing account executive from Indiana. You can connect with him on Twitter, Medium or Instagram. Aaron and his wife Sarah run a Medium publication called Cooking With Sarah that documents their weekly cooking adventures.
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