All these details

As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”
But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Luke 10:38-42 NLT

After I read this, I couldn’t continue reading on through the next chapter. I had to close the bible and stew over it for a while, because it brought to light an unsettledness in my heart I didn’t realize was there before. It showed me that I have been striving too much lately. I have been trying to do everything perfectly. I’ve been trying to navigate my friendships perfectly. I’ve been trying to do perfect at work. I’ve been trying to be perfect at making meals for my family. I’ve been trying to manage my time perfectly. I’ve even been trying to control my thoughts and emotions perfectly.

When I read this passage, I felt like the Lord was saying to me, “Kristen, you are worried and upset over all of these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Spend time with me. That is the one thing that cannot be taken away from you.” 

I get so distracted by the “big dinner” I am preparing for the Lord. I get so hyper focused on doing my absolute perfect-best for God that I end up getting stressed and frazzled. I make great efforts to achieve great things, and I begin to believe that the most important thing I have going on is this thing I’m doing for the Lord.

But then the Lord whispers, “There is only one thing worth being concerned about.”

40a9798f-ef96-411e-a1c1-f2db367d410a

Time spent with the Lord is all that really matters. It is the only thing worth being concerned about. When we spend time with the Lord we learn how to put our hope in him and not in our abilities. When we spend time with the Lord we learn how to be patient and wait for his best. It is there, at his feet, that we learn humility and what it really looks like to offer mercy and gentleness to our enemies. In him we find strength in light of our weakness.

Our hearts are not at peace when we are doing things for him – our hearts are at peace when we are abiding with him.

How can we point others to Jesus if we don’t know who he is or where he’s found? How can we serve one another in love if we haven’t learned what love is from him? How can we offer mercy when we’ve never experienced his mercy? How can we ask people to repent when we’ve not repented? Maybe an ability to serve others and point them to Jesus will result from our time spent abiding. But in the end, our relationship with Jesus is all that is worth being concerned about. Our service to the Lord shouldn’t be our focus. We’re not hired salesmen trying to earn a big commission. We’re children of God. We’re heirs with Christ. We’re adopted into his family.

Our service to the Lord should be a result of the relationship we have with him, and come from a deeply rooted desire to invite others to experience what we have. God loves the people in our lives so much and wishes that as many as possible would come to know him in this way.

And he wishes that we would know him in this way.

So where do we go from here? We go to the Bible. We pray. We put down the details and spend some time a Jesus’s feet.

Father, I pray that you will help us to stop worrying about the details. Please put our eyes back on you. So much of what we do is born out of the need to produce – the need to be good at something or to be somebody of worth. But we find our worth in you. And we look to you to fill our hearts, and we ask that you would fill us to overflow so that other’s may be encouraged to look to you as well. You are the goal.  Should all else be taken away but you remain, still my soul would be at peace. May your kingdom come and your will be done here on earth, just as it is in heaven.

 

 

 

 

 

Remain in me

Since July, my focus has been on my marriage and my relationship with the Lord. It has been the single most transformative period of my life, and I was happy and content to continue as such. However, I had some changes in my schedule come up unexpectedly over Christmas. Changes I felt peace about making room for.

In the past, it’s been hard for me to have a lot on my plate. I just haven’t had the bandwidth for much more than the basics like work, marriage, and family. It’s usually ended badly when I’ve taken on more. But having peace about something makes all the difference. I wanted to follow where God was leading.

But even though there’s peace, there’s still a new rhythm and balance to find, which inevitably will result in trial and error. I’ve gone through this before without much luck. I don’t want to go through that rigamarole this time. Ideally, I’d like to have it figured out before it even begins.

I took to my journal to try to sort it out, and the prompt at the top of the page was, “God can do in a moment what we cannot do in a lifetime. Ask for God’s favor, power, and intervention today.” So I started asking for him to show me what my new life balance is supposed to look like. Instead of mapping out my weeks and trying a hundred different schedules, why not go directly to the one who has the answer?

What I felt was a whisper…Remain in me.

img_4587I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. – John 15:8

It’s not a black and white answer like, “On Wednesday nights you’ll do this and on Friday mornings you’ll do this.” But it’s an answer that I understand and that makes it so completely simple.

Remain in Christ.

Over the last year I’ve seen the fruit of spending hours each week in prayer and in the Word. I’ve been able to handle the curve balls of life unlike any other time. My focus has been on the Lord and I have hidden myself in him. God has indeed produced fruit in my life where otherwise I would have nothing.

I felt peace, so I know that he’ll provide what I need to see it through. He’ll give me the extra energy and time. He’ll bring the resources. He’ll supply my every need.

My answer isn’t a perfectly planned schedule. It’s residing in his presence.


Featured photo by Maja Petric on Unsplash