“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.” Luke 10: 41-42 NIV
“Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; Like a weaned child rests against its mother, My soul is like a weaned child within me. O Isreal, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forever” Ps 131:2-3 NASB
Jesus and his disciples were in the home of Mary and Martha in Bethany, a small village near Jerusalem. As you can imagine there would have been a lot on the household to do list. What kind of house cleaning do you do when Jesus on the guest list?!! I am someone who thrives on getting a job done. I like ticking off (mostly mentally) tasks done and then moving off to the next thing. When I have been able to tick off my to do list after a full day – I judge it to be a good day. This of course means, foolishly, I judge it the opposite when I am unable to tick off my lists.
Recently, uncompleted to do lists have been whirling about in my head. I also know I need to rest, I need to prune, I need to declutter, and I need clarity and focus. Stuff needing to get done were like cobwebs fuzzing up my focus. I could relate to Martha’s need to get things done and moving. However, the more growth, order and productivity I want is ONLY attained through pruning, cutting back, of thoughts, ideas, lists and expectations.
Martha was distracted with her preparations. Her getting ready to entertain Jesus clouded her focus. She had probably tried to catch her sister’s eyes from the kitchen, motioning the need for Mary to start doing her bit at reducing at the mega to-do list. Exasperated at the lack of reaction from Mary and Jesus seemingly obliviousness to her stress level, she marches up to Jesus and blurts out her annoyance. Jesus gently chides her. “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.” Jesus elevated relationship over activity. Every day we have an opportunity to choose relationship over activity. Indeed, the way and manner we choose to do the activity reveals whether we are operating from a relational heart or a need-to- accomplish heart.
Psalms 131:2-3 says Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; Like a weaned child rests against its mother, My soul is lie a weaned child within me. O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and for ever. Surely, I have composed and quieted my soul, in some Bible versions, that Psalm states I have calmed and quieted myself (NIV) I’ve cultivated a quiet heart (MSG). In other words, it all requires some action on my part. Composed, Calmed, Cultivate, all action words. Jesus wasn’t ruling out preparations and activity when speaking to Martha, He was redirecting her attention to the right kind. I have cultivated a quiet heart- that speaks to a gardening term – like when Jesus spoke about pruning a branch to bear more fruit (John 15:1-2)
Martha, Martha, you need to cut away, prune the unnecessary to get to the one thing that is needful. Cultivate, calm and quiet yourself so that you can get to the heart of the matter, Martha. It’s all about being with me, abiding with me. A relationship with me strips you of the false belief that what satisfies me about you, is you just doing. I want you to be. I created you a being. When you prune in order to be with me, that pleases me. Submission to me, that delights me.
A child who doesn’t submit to the weaning process aggravates itself, its’ mother and everyone around it. When your soul is like that of a weaned child, everyone benefits; you are blessed, the people around you are blessed. The weaned child is content to let the mother take charge of its feeding, the manner and the contents. Once it was milk, now its solid food. The child trusts the mother knows what she is doing and knows what is best. He or she is content to let the mother comfort him. “As a mother comforts a child so I will comfort you…” (Isiah 66:13 NASB).
Closely associated with the process of weaning is discomfort, because as a child transitions from one phase to another, discomfort occurs. He is used to having his food one way, now he must have it in another format. Sometimes there is a struggle as the child protests about the way nourishment comes. He is not grateful nor thinks – I am not being starved here, the only thing changing is the way my food is given to me. The weaning period is a time of transition and it requires faith and trust.
How do we navigate this period? How do we get to the state of being like a weaned child? What do I need to be weaned from that I might enjoy a composed or contented life? Just as the baby is required to do away with a certain thing so that he might grow into a fuller expression of his life. What things do I cut away or declutter? Pride, anxiety, fear, working mum guilt, unending to -do lists and demands etc?
- Cultivate your heart (soul). Get that one thing that is needful, necessary and will not be taken away. Prune away what clutters up your soul. Prioritise your time in God’s presence. Look forward to that time. He does. If, at the moment, that’s proving to be a challenge, ask the Holy Spirit for creative ideas and ways you can spend time in His presence. Mary in the middle of the busyness going on all around her, still found the space and time to connect with Jesus.
- Renew your mind through His Word, so that all the wrong thinking that we have like Martha’s will collide with His Word and give way to the Truth that sets free. This includes wrong thinking fuelling an activity- based heart rather a relational heart towards the Father.
- Be grateful, practise praise. The requirement of pruning away certain things means what God has in mind for you is better than what he is calling you to lay aside. Therefore, thank and praise Him as proof your trust in Him through the process.
- Rest! Rest! Rest! Even, after you have decluttered, sometimes you still need times of complete rest to be rejuvenated. Guard your rest periods. Don’t allow other things to distract from the purpose of that time. A decluttered soul is hugely beneficial to you and others around you.
Thank you for reading.