"You are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." -Luke 10:41-42The image of sitting at the feet of Jesus is one of my favorites. Because sitting doesn't require much. It doesn't require courage, or strength, or mountain-moving faith, or knowing all the answers, or completing a ten-step program to perfection. It doesn't require adequacy. And most days, I feel pretty inadequate.
It does require one thing though. It requires stillness. It requires putting away the cell phone, putting off the to-do list. For some reason we feel like we're better people if we're constantly busy. Especially if it's work within the church. Like if we're involved in enough outreaches and are a part of enough committees, we'll get the extra-spiritual award or something. Martha wasn't just working, after all. She was making preparations for Jesus. What could be better than that?
The one thing. The one thing that was needed. The one thing that Mary chose. Which was? "[Sitting] at the Lord's feet listening to what he said," (v.39). Martha was doing stuff for God, but rather than experiencing His Presence the way Mary was, Martha was "distracted by all the preparations," (v.40). If Martha had stopped long enough to listen to God's voice, she would have known exactly what to do. She would have known there was no need to worry. She would have been in the perfect position to go out into the world and be the hands and feet of Jesus. She would have been at peace.
Sitting at the feet of Jesus is not as easy as it sounds. I know this from experience. Even if you get rid of the external distractions, the internal ones remain. All those thoughts and worries and plans, crowding into your head, drowning out the Father's voice. I think that is why God says, "Make every effort to enter that rest," (Hebrews 4:11). It's a paradox: striving to rest. But an accurate one. We have to make an intentional effort to sit at the feet of Jesus. The rest of the world is constantly trying to demand our attention. And all too often, it succeeds.
But I can also say from personal experience that resting at the feet of Jesus is the most beautiful thing. Being in the midst of His Presence--in silence, or song, or prayer--there are no words. Or worries. Only peace.