Minding your Busyness

My dad with two of my kids around the time of this story
My dad with two of my kids around the time of this story

Getting a Lot Done is not Necessarily Good

..but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

Luke 10:42

I was preoccupied as I pulled up in front of Dad's trailer. My father had been through a lot of pain and was trying to rebuild his life. He didn’t have a car and he depending upon me. On this particular Saturday, he needed me to pick up some groceries. I was doing what he asked, but it was not out of love for him, it was out of duty.

My task list had grown so large, the joy of life was being sucked out of me. As I was lifting the bags of groceries from my car, I was already thinking of the other items on my task list. I had to mow the yard, take the kids to the park, check on a problem at work, prepare to teach Sunday school the next day and …

I charged into Dad’s trailer and began stacking the groceries on his kitchen table. When I was done, I told him I was running short on time and would need to be going. He asked me to sit a moment and chat. I agreed, but insisted I was on a tight schedule. I could see the disappointment in his eyes, as I sat down.

"Rob, you're always on a tight schedule. Where do I fit in?" Dad asked. "Put me on your priority list somewhere!"

My immediate reaction was anger. In fact, I think I even raised my voice at him. “Dad, you have no idea all I have going on!” I fumed, releasing some pent up pressure.

Later, as I reflected on Dad's words, my heart was pierced. He had nailed me. I had become so busy, people had dropped from my priority list. I was very dutiful, seeing people not as objects of love, but obstacles to my ever growing list of duties.

Looking back on the time now, I see that much of my busyness was self-imposed; adding task after task to earn God’s love and to avoid feeling as if I had failed in my roles as husband, father, brother, employee, friend and son. Truly I was acting more like a “human doing” than a human being.

Because of this, I wondered how God could be so merciful to me. He called me to be an ambassador of His love, yet I was not spreading his love. Even though I was doing things for Dad, he was not feeling loved. He felt disrespected by my indifference to him as a person. I suspected my wife and kids and friends were feeling the same thing. I was so busy, yet I was literally doing more harm than good.

I thought of Martha in Luke chapter 10, verses 38-42. Jesus was in her house, but she was so preoccupied with her duties she missed Him. Jesus told her she was bothered and worried about so many things.

But her sister Mary knew exactly what to do. While Martha was stressing over her tasks, Mary was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His words. Mary chose the one thing that was important.

But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-42 (NASB)

Now, years later, I’m convinced that if I follow Mary’s example, what needs to be get done will be accomplished. And though I still struggle at times with the Martha syndrome, I also know that activities, which do not spring from my dependence upon Christ, accomplish nothing of eternal value.[1]

Mary was not lazy. After the scene recorded in Luke, she would take a costly vial of perfume and anoint the Lord’s body for burial. This work, done in response to her great love for Jesus, will always be remembered whenever the gospel is preached.[2]

I want to be like Mary; to love and trust Jesus so much that He is the one focus of my life. After all, Jesus lives in me. His love is in my heart. I don’t have to do anything for Him to love me. I’m simply told to remain where He has put me: in His love.

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. John 15:9 (NIV)

Challenge: When you feel yourself getting busy, slow down. Follow Mary’s example of being with Jesus and listening to His words. And don’t stop resting in Him even when your activities begin. Depend upon the Indwelling Spirit of Jesus to love the people He brings your way. Let love be your focus. What needs to get done, will get done.

God produces extraordinary accomplishments when we depend upon His Spirit in us.

Lord, thank you for showing me that focusing on You and listening to You is the key to life. Please help me trust this fact, even in the midst of life’s responsibilities. Guard me from being bothered and worried about my tasks. Build in me the rhythm of sitting with you and listening to you, before I work and while I work. I love you, Lord. Keep me settled in Your love.

The man who remains in the love of Jesus is never a failure.




[1] John 15:5

[2] Mark 14:9


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