I almost missed it. My dedication to checking off my to-do list nearly hijacked a precious opportunity to be with the ones I love.
My oldest son and daughter-in-law were traveling through my state on their way home from visiting my daughter-in-law’s family. They asked if they could spend the night since they had another ten hours of travel. Of course! I hustled around my house for the next few hours, scrubbing floors, changing the guest bed, and considering the food situation. As they pulled into the driveway, I greeted them with a smile, but my mind began fretting over finding time to grab groceries to fill my empty fridge and obsessing about the one pillowcase I couldn’t find.
As soon as they arrived, they announced their plans to go to the zoo. “Come with us, Mom,” they begged. My heart jumped at the thought, but my mind insisted that my empty fridge and unanswered work emails needed attention first. “No, you go ahead. It will be a disaster if I don’t get a few things done.”
The kids drove off and I grabbed my vacuum cleaner. Moments later, my mind changed its mind and screamed at me: “What are you doing? You see these kids a few times a year, and you’re worried about returning emails and cleaning the house?”
I wonder if Martha had this same type of “a-ha” moment but ignored it. In Luke 10, Jesus and the disciples stopped by her home to visit. Since this is described as Martha’s home, scholars suggest that she had the means to host several guests. Martha put her heart into creating a warm, welcoming environment, but frustration set in when her sister, Mary, sat down to listen to Jesus instead of assisting Martha with making their guests comfortable.
For all of the discussions around if she was right or mistaken for tattling on Mary, Jesus’ response to Martha is full of discernment and encouragement for those of us who can focus on the to-do list and forget about who we’re doing the list for.
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.”
Scripture describes Jesus and Martha as friends, so Jesus’ words aren’t spoken in rebuke or anger. Jesus doesn’t diminish Martha’s generosity or her giftings. Yet, Jesus offered a divine a-ha moment. Jesus taught Martha that if she stuck too closely to her expectations, she was in danger of missing the precious “it” Mary had discovered. What is that “it”? Whatever God wanted to do for her or around her at that moment for His glory and Martha’s good.
There will always be a tension between relationships and responsibilities. At times, we must lean more one way than the other.
Is God nudging you to do a little less hustling and a little more holding space so that you can be present with others?
What if the best way to live in your faith today is to be more present with your family or more focused on just sitting quietly with God? Most of the time, our to-do list can wait, but time . . . we can’t get back.
I called my kids and asked them to come back and pick me up. We spent a glorious afternoon at the zoo enjoying moments that weren’t particularly epic or breathtaking, but I’ll remember them for years to come. We walked around and pointed things out to each other, even though we’d gone to the zoo countless times. We laughed as we watched a 100-year-old giant tortoise who loved to escape at 1 mph to eat at the zoo café. Even though my son is thirty years old and an Army officer, my old mama bear instinct roared to life as we watched two giant brown bears fight it out over a stick. I stood ready to toss my kid over my shoulder and run if those bears got too rowdy.
I almost missed this experience because I thought that my emails couldn’t wait.
Today, you have chances and choices. Chances to be fully present with those you love and choices about what you need to do and what can wait. Where can you invite God’s Holy Spirit to discern what must be done and what can wait?
God doesn’t want you to miss whatever it is that He has waiting for you today, whether it’s seeing Him in a new and significant way or the chance to spend time being truly present with those you love.