On June 4, 2001, in the Detroit suburb of Harper Woods (west of Grosse Pointe) 12 year old Robert Knight pitched the game of his life. Batter after batter came to the plate – each tried and failed, again and again, to hit a pitch off the 5’ 3”, 100 pound Robert Knight. He threw a perfect game – no a PERFECT game. All 18 batters he faced in the 6 inning game struck out. The last batter worked the count to 3-0 but Knight came back to strike him out. As the last strike was called, everyone from Knight’s team ran out to celebrate. Parents clapped and yelled, but not Knight’s parents. They were not at the game. It’s not that they didn’t care. Robert’s dad had driven his other son to another game, and his mom was at a softball game of her own down the street. When she arrived the coach said, “This wasn’t the game for you to miss.” Don’t you hate it when you are so busy that you miss something really good?’
In Luke 10:38-42, we find two sisters who will help us discover how to handle our ‘too busy’ schedule.
Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her. (Luke 10:38-42)
We can learn to set better priorities in our life from the example of Mary and Martha.
Martha allowed performance to drive a wedge in her relationship with her sister. Maybe because it was her house and she felt that work needed to be done but Mary wasn’t doing it. Rather than talking with Mary about it, she complained to Jesus (with Mary sitting right there). She asked one question and made one request to Jesus that revealed her heart: (1) Don’t you care? (2) Bid her. Her strained relationship with her sister extended to her relationship with Jesus. Don’t let your busy life negatively affect your relationships.
James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, tells the story of a 58 year old man remembering when he was 17 years old. He was one of the stars on his high school football team. But his father was a very successful man in the city and always too busy to come se him play. The final game of the season happened to be the state championship. As they were warming up, he looked up in the stadium and got excited when his father arrived with two other men, each wearing business suits. They talked awhile and then left. Even at 58, he had tears streaming down his cheeks as he relived that moment. When his father died, he stood next to the casket and said, “Dad, I never really knew you. We could have shared so much love together – but you never had time for me.”
Is your busy life affecting your relationships with other people? Maybe you need to stop and spend time with those you love. Take Mary’s example and spend time with people. The work will always be there.
It is interesting that both Mary and Martha were sitting at Jesus’ feet (see “also” in verse 39). Both were listening to Jesus but Martha got up to take care of some duties. She got distracted. She was “cumbered” which means to be ‘dragged away by distraction.” She wasn’t distracted from Jesus by something bad. It was probably good. But Jesus said these “many things” concerned and troubled her. She allowed a duty to disrupt her devotion to Jesus. She was distracted from Jesus by “many things” but Mary stayed with the “one thing” Every time we read about Mary in the Gospels she is always sitting at Jesus’ feet. In Luke 10, she sat at His feet listening to His Word. In John 11, she laid at His feet and poured out her heart because her brother was dead. In John 12, she came to His feet and poured out her worship with a fragrant oil.
Data was recently collected from over 200,000 Christians in 139 countries between the ages of 15 and 88. 4 in 10 Christians around the world say they “often” or “always” rush from task to task and 6 in 10 Christians say that it’s “often” or “always” true that the “busyness of life gets in the way of developing my relationship with God.” Christian author and speaker, Gordon MacDonald, says he believes that “busyness is a deeper threat to the soul than pornography ever was.”
If your spiritual life has been negatively influenced by your busy schedule, maybe you can try this. Turn off the TV at night and read your Bible. If you will give up one 30 minute show, you can read through the New Testament in less than 40 days. It’s called the New Testament 40 Day Challenge. Try it.
Martha chose to serve. Mary chose to sit. Jesus didn’t criticize Mary’s service. But He did say that Mary chose better. He did not tell Martha to quit serving. But He did say He would not take away Mary’s devotion. There will always be things to do. But to spend time with Jesus is something that will never be taken away. Everyone has a choice of what to do. Martha chose to be involved in things that would pass. Mary chose something that would last forever. When it comes to decisions in your busy life, choose what will last. Take time to sit and learn about eternal things.
A missionary once said, “Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at something that doesn’t really matter.”
I want to share an illustration that I saw Christian author Francis Chan do. Imagine a rope that goes on and on for eternity. It represents your eternal existence. But a small 2 inch piece at the end of that rope represents your life on earth. Everything you do in that 2 inch piece will impact the rest of the rope. How are you spending your time? Are you making sure that your short life span is comfortable and doing what you want or are you leveraging today for eternity? What will you do that will last forever and cannot be taken away?
All you have is time. When your time is up, you’re up. I want to encourage you to take a portion of your busy time and spend it for God. Here’s an idea: go to a Bible study or Sunday School. Get up an hour early on Sunday or go out for an extra hour in the evening and join with others to learn more about God’s Word. That will last forever. You can even do this online.
Wouldn’t it be great if more of us reflected on what we were really doing? Take some time and evaluate your schedule and calendar on how it affects people in your life, your devotion to Jesus, and what will last for all eternity. Make some changes. Slow down. Remove a few things from your calendar so you can replace them with better things.
I’m a pretty healthy guy with a busy schedule doing important work. But a few weeks ago, at 61 years old, my brain said, “STOP”. I had a minor stroke in the memory part of my brain.This experience hit me with the reality of my mortality. I’m feeling fine, now. But it could have been worse. It could have left me in real bad shape for the rest of my life. In fact, once you have a stroke you are more likely to have another. Nearly ¼ suffer a second stroke.
One day, whether a stroke, heart attack, cancer, car accident, or just old age, I am going to die. Most of the things that concern me now, won’t matter much then – what I eat for dinner, who wins the ballgame, what someone posted on Facebook, how I look in the mirror. Even things that are important like my job, my health, my hobbies, my finances, will no longer be as important. But what will be important are the people in my life, Jesus and eternity. I challenge you to make your today count.
Only one life will soon be past. – Only what’s done for Christ will last.