Many Things, Few Things, One

As many of you know my Mum was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor 13 months ago. We continue to pray and believe for healing miracles, and we will until her last day. Frankly, without a miracle, that day will be any day now.

One thing I’ve learned in this season is that when life affords you a moment to be present to something important, it’s important that you know what is important.

I got a fresh insight recently from Jesus’ encounter with Martha in Luke 10, when I noticed three phrases in his loving challenge to her….

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about MANY THINGS, but FEW THINGS are needed—or indeed only ONE. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Lk10:38-42 NIV)

Many Things… Few Things… One

I wonder if you’re worried and upset today? Martha was, and Jesus said it was because she was focused on “many things”. She wasn’t sinning but she was missing the point of the moment she was in. The problem wasn’t that she wanted to have dinner ready, the problem was that Jesus Himself was in the very next room and in her distraction she missed what was really important.

In his book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, Pete Scazzero shows us the heart of Martha’s dilemma, “Martha is actively serving Jesus, but she is also missing Jesus. She is busy in the “doing” of life. Her life is pressured and filled with distractions. Her duties have become disconnected from her love for Jesus.

Some moments are opportunities to let the dishes sit in the sink and to simply sit with Jesus. And as much as Martha felt justified in her anger towards her sister not pulling her weight with the chores, the truth is that Mary was simply clear on what was important in that moment.

There’s something liberating about simplicity… when we go from many things, to few things, to one.

Andi and I pastor a church and we’re planting several new communities at the moment. We live in New York City. We’ve got four kids. Andi’s first book just came out and she’s writing a second. In other words we have no shortage of opportunities to become “worried and upset about many things“.

I took this photo of holding my Mum’s hand last week as she lay in her hospital bed sleeping. Right now that’s my one thing. These are beautiful, precious, bittersweet moments. These are moments we won’t get again until we’re all in eternity.

So instead of running from my pain, burying myself in to do lists, or booking myself solid with meetings, I’m practicing just being present to the one thing. I wish I could say I’ve mastered this but sadly it too often takes a crisis to realign my priorities and pull me away from the many things.

Maybe that’s what the Apostle Paul meant when he declared “one thing I do” as a man who had clearly achieved many things in his life…

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But ONE THING I DO: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Phil3:12-14 NIV)

For us to reach our goal and obtain our prize in Christ, there will always be things to forget and leave behind, and things to strain toward and take hold of.

So here’s my simple encouragement to you today…

What’s your one thing in this season?

 


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